On the last City and Colour album, Little Hell, former Alexisonfire member Dallas Green played guitar, bass, drums, piano and Wurlitzer as well as singing. But on new album The Hurry and the Harm he limits himself to just guitar and vocals, having put together a band to do the rest of the work.
Even with all those other musicians in the room, the result is still deeply personal. Take the first verse of ‘Commenters’, for instance, in which he responds to terrible things people say about his wife on the internet.
“She’s a television presenter here in Canada,” he explains, “and when you’re a woman who’s in the public eye people tend to say really mean things about you. For me, I couldn’t care less what people say about me or what they say about my music because as a musician and as a songwriter you can’t honestly assume that by writing a song seven billion people are going to like it. I appreciate that when I write music some people are going to like it, some people aren’t. That’s OK. But it’s the hatefulness and the ignorance with which most people speak to one another on the internet that really gets to me sometimes.”
The rest of the song, with a naggingly catchy chorus of “I don’t want to be revolutionary / I just want to find the sweetest melody”, is about not caring how his music is received. “I don’t care if I make a top 10 list or Rolling Stone wants to put me in the magazine or not, I just want to write a song that I enjoy and hope that other people like it too.”
Then there’s ‘The Golden State’, in which he gently asks what the point of singing songs about California is when there are so many of them already. It’s not like sunshine and beaches are that interesting anyway, right? (“I need to see the leaves change and the snowflakes falling,” he sings.) “At the heart of that song is really just a jaded Canadian boy who’s spent 33 hard winters here in Canada. It’s my right now to complain about the weather,” Green says. “It’s obviously ironic and it’s supposed to be mildly tongue in cheek, based on the fact that I’m asking why everyone is still singing about California, while singing about California. I thought of the idea and I thought it would be a good song and I thought if I made it pretty enough no one would get that angry at me.”
Immediately after that playful number comes a much more serious one. ‘Death Song’ was the last thing he wrote before recording began. “‘Death Song’ is a little bit more morbid in title than it is in theme I think. Some people would hear that song or read the lyrics and think that it’s about my death but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about the death of the idea of moving into something else when people stop listening, because I think that you can easily – especially when you’re in a position like I am where I’ve had success and people seem to consistently be interested in the music I write – you can definitely get stuck in the idea that it’s never going to go away.”
Although Green’s realistic about the idea that someday people will stop caring about his music, it doesn’t seem to bother him. “Including Alexisonfire I’ve made eight records in ten years and I’ve been able to see the world time and time again. I’ve been to Australia nine times. I’ve done more in my life than I ever thought possible when I was a kid.”
BY JODY MACGREGOR
The Hurry and the Harm out now on Dine Alone.
Former member of post-hardcore band Alexisonfire, Dallas Green, is back with a second solo album exploring his folksy side.