Q&A: George Pettit (Alexisonfire)

George Pettit and Alexisonfire have been thrashing stages and wailing their post-hardcore hearts out for ten years now and as the vocalist told us, his incredible journey into it all started from deciding to never look back.

The band photo at the top of your MySpace page right now has Wade in flannel, Dallas in denim, and you in leather – I believe Chris is in a cardigan. Are your personalities as different as your taste in clothes?

We are all pretty different but we share a couple of really important things in common, like we all have the same sick sense of humor. I like that we are all individuals. I wouldn’t change anything about these guys. Whatever we are doing seems to be working. There haven’t been any fist fights yet. Well, there haven’t been any serious fist fights.
Does hosting the interview show Strange Notes on aux.tv allow you express yourself in a different way than as a vocalist in a rock band?

Strange Notes was a project I started working on a few years ago with Frank Guidoccio. I was sick of seeing decent bands not getting any air time on television to talk seriously about what they do. So the whole idea was to make an interview program where bands are allowed a full half hour to talk about the more important things about playing music. I’m not really a journalist but so few are these days, so I thought I would try my hand at it.
You’ve sat down with Shad K, Rise Against and even The Constantines. What has been your favourite interview so far?

My favorite interview was with Damian Abraham of Fucked Up. Damian gave us an epic, two hour interview so when it came to editing we decided that there was no point in trying to cram it all into a 22-minute segment. As a result, Fucked Up got a two part series. That band’s story is a fantastic ongoing saga. If I could have anyone on Strange Notes it would be Nick Cave, no doubt.
How was touring Australia with the likes of Faith No More and Jane’s Addiction as a part of the Soundwave Festival? What was reception from the Australian fans like?

Soundwave was a pretty amazing experience this year. There were lots of old friends kicking around which made things interesting. Dallas recieved some kind words from Sunny Day Real Estate, which he is still on cloud nine about. The Aussie fans are amazing. They braved the scorching summer sun to show their support for a bunch of goofy Canadians. Can’t thank them enough.

Coming from the small town of Grimsby, what’s one moment when you were younger that made you realize you wanted to become a rock artist?

I don’t know if it was ever an option. When I got in this band there wasn’t much of a chance that I was going to become a full time musician. I would have been happy to work at a record store. I think the moment when I realized that this was more than a weekend hobby was when I opted to not go to university so I could tour with the band.

Someone once told me “your worst case scenario is that your band will fail and you will be a 27-year-old freshman, but if you choose to dedicate yourself to this, the best case scenario is limitless.” That really stuck with me. So I focused on the band and I have never looked back.
What type of music were the young Grimsby locals into?

When I was young, it was a lot of classic rock like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and CCR. But then it was mostly mid 90s’, top 40 like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, etc. When I was in grade eight, my cousin introduced me to punk music and then there was no turning back.
It seems as though you’ve got two weeks without a show following your last date on March 28 in Toronto. Have you got anything big planned for those two weeks?

I’m going to spend time with my wife and son. It’s been a long haul and to tell you the truth, there is nowhere I would rather be right now than changing my son’s shitty diapers. I miss my family.

Since Attack in Black have been in Toronto recently, could 2010 be the year that you finally get The Bergenfield Four (which includes you and members from Attack and Black and Fucked Up!) back together?

I have four unreleased Bergenfield tracks on my computer right now. All I need to do is get Damian to sing on them. Every time I talk to Damian, he is all gung ho to play shows and put out more records but trying to get all members of the Bergenfield Four in a room together is a logistical nightmare. One day it will happen. One day
I read where, in discussing Old Crows / Young Cardinals, you said every album you guys have released sounds like Alexisonfire, but none of them sound the same. You also said that for the new album you wanted to shake things up. Any idea how you’ll keep yourself from falling into a pattern and continue to shake things up in the future?

It’s tough to say. Writing is so collaborative in Alexisonfire so we really have no idea what an album is going to sound like before we get into the studio. We have 4 songs for an EP called Dogs Blood which we are going to try to record in the spring. I think it is some of the heaviest stuff we have written. Hopefully it is out by the time we get back to Australia.
You’ve almost been a part of Alexisonfire for ten solid years. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned as an individual in this past decade and how has that changed/affected your life?

It’s important to find a balance between your life in the band and your life at home. It’s good to come home from tour and blend into obscurity for a bit. It keeps you grounded. One day you are playing to thousands in some country halfway around the world, the next you are vacuuming the stairs and going to a farmer’s market. I love every minute of it.

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