As heavy on talent as he is on tattoos, Dallas Green is the (very recent) ex-singer/guitarist for now defunct hardcore band Alexisonfire and the mastermind behind the softer, strikingly simplistic City and Colour. Just hours before the break-up of Alexisonfire was announced, the Juno award-winning St. Catharine’s native discusses how lucky he feels to have experienced both projects, the unlikely material that may necessitate yet another, and how his greatest song and best live show are still ahead of him.
Did you have a ‘career goal’ when you first started out?
My main goal was always just to be able to play and that was it. If I could somehow figure out how to write the songs then play them for people, then that was the dream come true. And that’s how I’ve always been…I set small, obtainable goals. I’ve never wanted to be a world-dominating pop star and I’ve never wanted fame; I just want to write a good song and then write a better song than that one. If I can do that then I hope that everything else will just fall into place.
City and Colour and Alexisonfire are miles apart – what do they each afford you artistically?
I just like music and I like a lot of different styles. I think it’s confusing for a lot of people and unexpected. To come from a hardcore band and then to move into an acoustic project, it’s like people were upset with me, saying, ‘You’re already in one band, how can you possibly put out another record that’s unlike the other one?’ To that I say, ‘I like music and I listen to lots of different things.’ As a songwriter I have a lot of musical ideas rolling around in my head. Anyone who’s played an electric guitar really loud knows that it’s really fun to do and to anyone who’s sang quietly while strumming an acoustic guitar knows that it can be very calming and beautiful. I just happen to have been able to do both of those things for a while.
Might those musical ideas rolling around necessitate yet another project?
Probably. I’ve got a bunch of these weird electro songs I’ve been writing on my laptop for like, 10 years. I do it late at night for fun when I can’t sleep. I make beats, slowly piece them together, then every once in a while go back and play with them a little more. Who knows if it will ever see the light of day? Maybe it will.
You once said, ‘going outside in the sunshine is nice, but it’s all about going through the s— that makes you who you are.’
Well, people always ask why I write songs that deal with such serious topics and it’s because I don’t really feel like writing songs when I’m happy, you know? I don’t want to write a song about the sunshine. Maybe one day I will, but when I’m thinking about something that bothers me then that’s when I want to be writing.
What’s a pivotal ‘s—’ moment to have shaped you?
Musically, touring with Alexisonfire for the first couple of years; playing to no one; sleeping on floors or in the van or cramming 10 guys into one hotel room because we didn’t have enough money was all pretty s—-y… But it shaped who I was as a musician and shaped my career path. It allowed me to appreciate working for something rather than just signing a major label deal and getting on a tour bus and playing in front of thousands of people right away. I appreciate everything that I’ve earned and everything that comes to me in my career.
And is there a pivotal ‘sunshiny’ moment that stands out?
I don’t know…I’d like to think that it hasn’t happened yet. There’ve been a lot of great moments in my life but I don’t know that I could pinpoint one perfect one, you know?
There’s something nice in thinking that it’s yet to come.
Yeah, I think so. I’d like to think that I’ll never write my greatest song and that I’ll always be striving to do so. I’d like to think that my best show is still ahead of me too.
*Originally published under ‘Interviews’ on MyTelus.com.