Friday, May 26
MacEwan Ballroom (U of C)
The epitome of lovely depression, Southern Californias Alkalkine Trio is renowned for beautifully solemn, poetic lyrics. Its what has helped them carve out a unique pop-punk niche over the last decade a style that blends the infectious groove and drive of Jawbreaker with the sombre outlook and black-cloth moodiness of AFI. It makes them as alluring as they are graven, as dreamy as they are mysterious.
Too bad they blow it all when they actually have to speak. Currently on tour to "sort of" support the re-released deluxe edition of 2005s full-length Crimson, the band singer-guitarist Matt Skiba, bassist Derek Grant and drummer Daniel Andriano dont seem all that together.
At least not today. Slow and thick-voiced, one cant grasp the distinction between sleepiness, boredom or just plain obtuseness in Skibas roundabout answers that lack anything. Lets hope its just him saving the more lucid moments for the record they plan to hunker down and make once this tour is over.
Speaking of, with Crimson pushing the year-old mark and the band having already toured it, why are they out now instead of with this years Warped Tour as advertised?
"Well, we were never a part of this years Warped despite people saying it," corrects Skiba. "For this tour though, were just out doing our thing. For us, this is just the chance to stretch our legs a little before going back into the studio."
Utilizing this promotional downtime to pull out some of their personal historical favourites live, Skiba notes that the set list this time out has included a few rare gems, something that has spawned a re-energized interest from older fans.
"Weve had a lot of older fans coming out because we are focusing on older material on this tour. Im seeing a lot of familiar faces on this tour, which is really cool."
when coupled with Crimsons reissue, one can almost hear the naysayer cries of "nostalgic cash-grab" were it not for Skibas open disgust with such a sentiment. Hes ready to defend himself before the question even arises as to what justifies the deluxe Crimson other than a fancy outer sleeve and plenty of inconsequential demo material.
"Ive heard it already," he grunts. "A lot of people had the perception that we were just trying to sell more records and didnt care. The more records we sell, the better in all honesty, but in all honesty as well, we wanted to do it this way from the start. We just couldnt afford it at the time."
He continues, revealing more than hed like to admit. Reading into the subtleties, it sounds like part of the reason behind the revisit may be an attempt at personal justification of the bands abilities after much hoopla over the band working with famed producer Jerry Finn (Blink-182, AFI).
"When we originally wanted to put it out, we wanted a more elaborate packaging and to include the demos
. Not only that, but (we wanted) to give people insight into the process and how songs take shape over time with a producer like (him). The record did well enough that we could do a re-release and we finally got it done."
Then again, us critics are always quick to pick out the negative arent we? Sidestepping into a quick remark about the new album, Skiba picks the thorns out of his side, noting that being in a surviving band is a tough balance between smart business and great songs.
"People cant wait to judge and point fingers. I dont feel like I have to defend myself, but we try to be as smart business-minded as we do try to be good songwriters. Having people come out to the shows is our bread n butter. The listener is the most important thing and giving people quality music is key. We know that, so itll be interesting to see what happens with the new album. Nothings set in stone, cause were just starting to work on music. Itll be a surprise for us all."