In March, I attempted a month long series of entries dedicated to the music that has struck a chord with me throughout my life. From A-Z, each letter represented one key artist that changed me in some way. ‘A’ ended up being the band that has had the most influence on who I am today. Support Canadian music!!
A is for Alexisonfire
Ironically the first entry ends up being dedicated to my favourite band to date. The first time that I saw the video for “Pulmonary Archery” on MuchMusic I was intrigued, and a little confused. At the time, my musical repertoire consisted of a strange mixture of genres and artists, from Good Charlotte to Eminem. This was unlike anything that I had heard at the time, and although I was initially turned off, something kept bringing me back to it and making me want to keep listening. It was messy, distorted, alternative and incoherent. After the release of “Counterparts and Number Them”, as it slowly began to grow on me, I bought their first album, and as they say, the rest was history.
From that point in time, at 14 years old, many aspects of my life changed. I started going to shows, discovering new bands and developing a deeper appreciation for musicianship in general. Alexisonfire was one of the first bands that made me pay attention to the instrumental layers, the vocals, the harmonies and the meaning behind the lyrics. The lyrics on their self titled debut album had no rhyme or reason, rather it was journal entries set to music. The followup, ‘Watch Out!” was far more structured and arranged in all senses of the word. The true talent of the entire group began to shine, from the precision and technique in the guitars to Dallas Green’s soothing vocals. I was officially hooked.
It was around that time that I really began to immerse myself in alternative music and started to leave my pop past behind me. Luckily, this was also around the time that “emo” music was having its heyday. Every band with bangs and a guitar was vying for a spot in our angsty hearts, and very few were talented enough to hold on. The bands that focused on the music and the message rather than the mugs of its members, those were the bands whos music still stands the test of time and continues to show up on my ‘shuffle’. AOF achieved a really perfect balance between melodic and mayhem, mellow and mad. Because of their influence, I discovered bands that I still keep in rotation, like Thursday, Underoath, Brand New and Alien Ant Farm. Stripped down sounds also started to resonate with me, bringing me to a love affair with Matthew Good, Dashboard Confessional and City and Colour. Going to shows and discovering new music became an intoxicating experience.
The doorway that they opened truly changed who I was.
After seeing them live twice in twelve years, in December 2012 I saw Alexisonfire perform one last time. They announced that they were disbanding-effectively breaking my heart-and at their final Edmonton show they proclaimed that “this is not a funeral, this is a fucking wake”. Though my heartstrings were twisting with every last song counting down to the end, after one of the best concerts of my life, I am optimistic that these guys will see it fit to reunite in the future.
Their music holds a special place in my heart and is extremely important to me. It is music that reverberates through my bones and generates an emotional response from my stomach to my heart. For completely changing the way that I listen to music, for allowing me beautiful friendships based around musical love and concert attendance, and for giving me four fantastic albums to repeat and cherish for life, Alexisonfire is the “A” of music that made me who I am today.