INTERVIEW: Gallows (UK/CAN), September 2012

Everyone was pretty pissed that Frank was leaving Gallows, but as someone who was just as potty for Alexisonfire as I was for Gallows I just knew that Wade would absolutely crush as the band’s new frontman. I think Wade appreciated that when we had a chat just as the self-titled album dropped. He probably had a lot of interviewers being all “So, you’re not Frank. Let’s talk about that.” So I like to think this one went pretty well. Still a fucking great band after all this time.

– DJY, December 2014


There’s a classic line from The Sound of Music where Maria says that “when the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” It’s a bit of cheesy blind faith, sure, but sometimes it can’t help but veer dangerously close to reality. Exhibit A: The closed doors. In 2011, Canadian post-hardcore band Alexisonfire announced their demises after ten years and four albums, and Gallows’ outspoken and ruthlessly aggressive frontman Frank Carter announced his departure from the band, leaving the future of the British hardcore punks in grave uncertainty. Exhibit B: The opened window. Shortly after both of these announcements, it was announced that Gallows had found a new lead singer: Former guitarist and vocalist of Alexisonfire, Wade MacNeil. A strange enough cross-over, but certainly not one that was written in the stars – at least, not from Wade’s perspective.

“I’ve always had a weird relationship with the band,” he says on the line from Toronto. “I remember the first time I met the bass player, Stu [Gili-Ross], at a bar in England, we almost had a fight!” He laughs at this memory, noting that Gili-Ross has gone on to become one of his closest friends. He continues to speak of Alexis and Gallows touring together around two years ago, where the earliest seeds of Gallows 2.0 were planted: “I remember the last time I did Soundwave,” he says, ‘I was walking through Melbourne with Frank [Carter], and he was telling me how he wanted to quit the band. His heart just wasn’t in it. There was absolutely no fucking way at the time I would have ever thought I was going to take that guy’s job!”

And yet, here we are, in 2012, with Wade doing exactly that; joining Gili-Ross, guitarist Lags Barnard, drummer Lee Barratt and Frank’s brother, guitarist Steph. The new line-up immediately set to work, quickly silencing their critics with a blistering EP, Death is Birth, and some of the band’s most chaotic live shows to date. “Everyone’s happy with the way things have panned out,” enthuses MacNeil. “I’m definitely happy that this band is still around, because they’re definitely not done writing songs.” As for the criticism that he has drawn, the 28-year-old couldn’t care less. “Gallows is the sum of its parts,” he affirms, “and we don’t care about any of the bitching that goes on. That’s always going to happen. I mean, you’re from Australia – I’m sure AC/DC still get it all the time, thirty years on or something like that!”

Of course, being with Gallows for just over a year has come with its various rough patches and tribulations. Not that it’s let Wade lose sight of what he wants out of his new career path – in fact, it’s invigorated him further. ““At the beginning stages, it was such a whirlwind, y’know?” he says as he recalls the first few months of frontman duties. “I think that’s why it’s worked, in a lot of ways. We had the studio time booked and then the tour a few weeks later – and I was pulling my hair out!” Because of this, MacNeil sees the band’s first recorded effort with their new line-up very much a result of trial and error, as well as being a product of its environment. “I very much look at the Death is Birth EP as a demo, just a scratch of what we were trying to do at the start,” he says.

By means of contrast, the band’s debut self-titled effort, released this month, has seen the new Gallows come into their own; creating an album that’s forthright, unapologetic and plate-shiftingly heavy. “I think with the new record, it’s a little more calculated,” says Wade. “At the same time, though, we didn’t over think things. If something wasn’t working, we’d just fuck it off straight away. It’s the record I’ve always wanted to make. It’s the record the boys have always wanted to make. That’s why it’s self-titled. It’s the best representation of what this band was always supposed to have been. I know that’s a bold statement, but… fuck off!”

He laughs at his last little outburst at his critics, but one can’t help but feel it comes from a place of great vitriol and frustration. Like it or not, Gallows are here to stay.

INTERVIEW: Alexisonfire (CAN), February 2010

I miss this band. As much as I love the other projects they’re all involved in, there’s no denying how special it was when these five were together. I went to both the farewell shows at the end of 2012 and it was such an incredible experience – I will never forget this band and the impact they had on my life. This interview, however, came before all of that was out in the open. AOF were still very much a band at this stage, full-swing into touring and promotion of the Old Crows/Young Cardinals record. I spoke with George, who was lovely. It’s not crazy insightful or anything like that, but this turned out pretty well. I wonder if he knew at that point that it would all come crashing down within 12 months?

– DJY, April 2014


George Pettit is a man with a lot on his mind. On a crackly, occasionally indecipherable line from his native Canada, the frontman of multi-faceted post-hardcore quintet Alexisonfire speaks in a tone that’s not so much distracted as full of thoughts and ideas about what’s going on. It’s nearly the end of 2009, and Petit finds himself reflecting on a year where he not only became a husband and expectant father, but also delivered his band’s fourth and easily most divisive record yet, Old Crows/Young Cardinals.

In spite of the controversy surrounding the band’s change in style (particularly in regards to George’s vocals), he still bestows his full confidence in the record itself.

“I was always happy with it,” he comments. “We took a lot of time to make it – we usually just come off the road, spend a month writing, spend a month recording and then go back on the road. This time, we took about six months. We set up our jam space, wrote all the songs and recorded there – we even had the songs in our cars to listen to. It had a lot of room for air.”

Discussing his influences when putting the OC/YC sound together triggers an interesting tangent of its own. He lists bands such as The Hot Snakes and Rocket From the Crypt as major influences, as well as determining the style he aimed to go for.

“When I decided to make the change from screaming to singing,” Petit explains, “I knew I couldn’t croon and I couldn’t sing pretty like [guitarist] Dallas [Green]. I thought I could probably try something like Chuck Ragan or someone like that. These kind of singers – they’re not crooners, but they’ve got that edge to it, which is what I wanted to go for.”

Interestingly enough, the idea of what Pettit doesn’t like also came into play. “It’s not like I was looking at singers and thinking, ‘I wanna sing like that,’” he muses. “It was more looking at screamers and thinking, ‘I DON’T want to scream like that.’ I didn’t want to sound like that anymore.”

“You’re kind of influenced by the things you don’t like,” he continues. “I feel like most of the time when I’m listening to something I fucking hate and I can’t stand it, I want to be the opposite of what that is. There’s a lot of reactions to what we found to be absolutely detestable on the record.”

Despite this seemingly negative inspiration, George insists that the album was not an exercise in hate. Rather, the album was a challenge to push the boundaries of what Alexisonfire could sound like. As George himself puts it: “I think all of our records sound like Alexisonfire; but at the same time, I feel like none of our records sound the same.

“I wanted to shake things up as opposed to just falling in line,” he notes when outlining the band’s intentions. “We just wanted to make something that we liked and move forward. I’m still really happy with the record, even at the end of this year.”

Following OC/YC’s release, Alexis have been touring all across America. Despite labelling the process as “kinda gruelling”, George maintains getting satisfaction from doing so. “We just did the Warped Tour,” says George. “That was fun. You’re only actually playing for thirty minutes tops, and the rest of your time can just be spent hanging out.”

When talk turns to the set-lists of their recent tour, he can’t help but raise a chuckle when it’s said that, even with a new record out, the band must still have fans craving older material. As it stands, Pettit outlines, the band’s current set-list works as follows. “We’ll do at least one off the first record, then one or two off Watch Out!, then we split the rest between Crisis and the new record.” He also adds that it’s in the band’s best intention to “try to put together a set that can please everybody”.

As for the band’s upcoming appearance at Soundwave 2010, Pettit is audibly hot in anticipation for returning to Australia. “This is a really cool festival to be a part of again,” he mentions. “We’re really excited to see Isis, Emarosa, Faith No More, Sunny Day Real Estate, The Weakerthans… it’s really cool. Jane’s Addiction is another one I’m interested to see.”

No matter what your stance on Alexis’ more recent studio work, anyone who’s seen the band live will guarantee you a powerhouse performance. Don’t miss history repeating as George and the rest of the guys from Alexisonfire become the unlikely heroes of the Soundwave festival.