Alexisonfire as part of the Warped Tour at Molson Park (Volcom Stage, Barrie), Saturday (August 14). $29.75-$39.25. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
When I call Alexisonfire's George Pettit for an interview at his home in Grimsby, Ontario, his father answers the phone with "George Pettit's answering and laundry service." "That's how it goes around here a lot of the time when I'm home," says Pettit Jr. "Answering and laundry service. My dad's a nice guy. He's very supportive of my career choices or lack thereof."
Every young would-be rock star should be so lucky.
"Yeah. They let me pretty much freeload. I can't afford to move out since I play in a band."
Musicians are so sexy, aren't they? Well, you can't say Alexisonfire ain't workin' hard, touring like mad, doin' whatcha gotta do. "There'd be no point in moving out anyway," says Pettit. "I'd be paying rent at a place I wouldn't even be staying at."
After playing the Warped Tour this summer, they head to Reading and Leeds, and in the fall through Canada, the U.S., Japan, Australia and the UK. In the meantime, Waterwings and Counterparts And Number Them, tracks from their self-titled debut, are getting airplay in Britain and Down Unda, and the single Accidents, from their recently released sophomore effort, Watch Out!, is getting heavy rotation in Japan.
Not bad for some kids barely into their 20s - two of them just graduated high school a year ago - from St. Catharines, Ontario.
"Yeah, it's pretty crazy," agrees Pettit.
The Accidents video may also be turning up in unlikely places. "We play ambulance drivers and we drive around in emergency vehicles and there's a heart attack and a drug overdose and stuff. This charity group that provides scholarships for people who want to be paramedics e-mailed me the other day saying they want to use our music video at their presentations."
On Watch Out!, Alexisonfire do the emo/screamo melodic hardcore thing pretty well. Pettit is the designated screamer, sharing vocal duties with Dallas Green, the designated singer. The two trade off atop metal/hardcore guitars and melodies that run the gamut from old-school rock to pop. The boys took a more serious approach to this record than to their debut.
"We spent a lot more time recording this one, and there's a lot more structure," says Pettit. "I think we got better at writing songs. The old songs were just like the first 11 we ever wrote, and while I love playing them, they were limited."
When asked why he has to scream so damn much, Pettit explains that it's because he can't sing. Plain and simple.
"I'm incapable of singing. The band started and Wade was like, 'I got this thing goin' on with Dallas. We're writing these songs and I think you should try and sing over 'em'.
"I said, 'I can't sing.' So he said, 'Well, you could probably scream over 'em.' So that's what I did.
"We've all been into a lot of bands that have vocals where you can't really tell what they're saying. We didn't pioneer it. People have been doing it for a long time."
Pettit's taste in music is far from limited, however. He just finished making a mixed tape for someone featuring Talking Heads, X, Johnny Cash, Radio Berlin, George Thorogood, Nancy Sinatra and Rick James.
Of course, we wanna know if it's for a boy or a girl.
"It's for a girl."
Ooh! George likes a girl!
Wait'll she finds out he lives with his parents.