Green drops heavy stuff and sees light

By Chris Schulz

Ex-frontman for hardcore band now happy to cover Bic Runga.

Dallas Green is bringing a new, all-star band to New Zealand.
Dallas Green is bringing a new, all-star band to New Zealand.

Up until 2011, Dallas Green was living a double life - and he ended up making headlines for it.

Green spent 10 years fronting Alexisonfire, a hugely successful Canadian post-punk act who provided the soundtrack for moshpits full of tattooed metalheads the world over.

But he was also moonlighting as an acoustic singer-songwriter for his solo project City and Colour, which performs in Auckland tonight and Wellington on Wednesday.

His decision to quit Alexisonfire in 2011 to focus on City and Colour was met with abuse from his former bandmate and co-singer George Pettit, who wrote a scathing Facebook post that made worldwide headlines.

Two years after the fracas was made public, Green said they were all friends again.

"The reason that Georgie wrote that is because it wasn't amicable - they didn't want the band to break up," Green told the Herald during a tour stop in Melbourne. The band broke up because I left. You couldn't fault them for being angry about it.

But they also appreciated and understood why I was doing it."

Green's obviously over it. And besides, he's moved on: He released his acclaimed fourth City and Colour album this year and tonight's show is his second New Zealand visit after a raved-about gig last year.

There's no moshing at Green's shows these days.

With his tendency to write tender melodramas and downbeat acoustic ballads, City and Colour lends itself more to comparisons with alt-folk artists like Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes, and the indie-pop of Death Cab For Cutie.

It's fair to say Green has left his Alexisonfire fans behind - and he admits his career has been one of "polar opposites".

"The well that I used to go to for Alexisonfire ideas was drying up, and I didn't want to stay and force myself to do a record that I maybe didn't want to be a part of.

"Every time I tried to write, these were the songs that were coming out of me," he said.

"My whole life I've always enjoyed different styles of music. Being that way as a listener you can't help but turn into an open-minded writer and that's sort of why I guess I was part of both these things."

Green initially had no ambitions for City and Colour. He fronted Alexisonfire alongside Pettit (Green sang hooks over the five-piece's emo-metal racket, while Pettit growled and screamed), then in his downtime wrote for City and Colour, releasing his first album Sometimes in 2005.

But things kept growing with each album, and his 2011 exit freed him up for his latest album The Hurry and The Harm. Recorded in two weeks in Nashville, it's full of swooping orchestral epics like Death's Song and Of Space and Time, both of which directly reference his decision to leave Alexisonfire.

The odd song out is the upbeat fuzz-thump of Thirst, a track initially destined for Kiwi pop star Kimbra.

"I think she's great [and] through the annals of major label publishing an email came across my desk asking if I could write [a song for Kimbra]. It turns out she had no idea about it, I was just [part of] the big machine working behind the curtain," Green said.

"It's good, she didn't hear it and I kept it for myself and I like it a lot."

It's likely to be the up-on-your-feet highlight of tonight's show, for which Green is bringing a new, all-star band with him that includes The Dead Weather's Jack Lawrence, Hacienda's Dante Schwebel and The Constantines' Doug MacGregor. "They're taking such good care of the songs," he said. "They've breathed new life into the live shows."

Also keep an eye out for a completely reworked version of Kimbra's Settle Down, which Green is known to play live occasionally, and a cover of Bic Runga's Captured, which Green recently released as the third part of his seven-inch "Covers" series.

Just don't expect to hear any Alexisonfire songs. Even though Green admits part of him misses the hardcore stuff, it's a rare City and Colour show that includes songs from his old band.

"I still listen to a lot of the heavy stuff that I grew up listening to on my iPod," he said. "But right now, when I pick up my guitar, this is the kind of music that comes out. This is what I feel my voice is suited to."

Who: Dallas Green, aka City and Colour
What: Alexisonfire front man gone solo
Where: Tonight, The Civic, Auckland; December 18, St James, Wellington
Albums: Sometimes (2005), Bring Me Your Love (2008), Little Hell (2011), Hurry and the Harm (2013)

- NZ Herald

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