On the third day of the Sasquatch Music Festival in George, Washington, Dallas Green (the frontman of City & Colour as well as member of Alexisonfire), took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about recording, skateboarding and life on the road.
Allyce Andrew: So, you just recorded a new album? "Little Hell?"
Dallas Green: Yes.
AA: And you named it that because you had trouble with your recording?
DG: Well, I wrote a song called "Little Hell" which is where the original idea came from but then as I started thinking about it more it just seemed like that's kind of how I feel about life. It's all sort of about little hells that you either put yourself into or have like, you know thrust upon you that you have to sort of get through it. It's all in how you get through those that like sort of builds your character, molds you into the person that you are and that's kind of why I called it "Little Hell."
AA: So, it's like underlying optimism kind of?
DG: Yeah, I feel like that's sort of how I write songs. They have this sort of stark melancholic feel but at their core there's like a light at the end of the tunnel.
AA: And you recorded it with Alex Newport?
AA: How was that?
DG: It was great. I recorded it all on tape, so it was important for me to have someone who was experienced in that field where he's been making records on tape for almost 20 years so that was good. And he's also very meticulous, very interested in getting the best possible performance that you can get as opposed to producers that just try to re-write your songs. He liked the songs already so it was all about getting them to sound as good as they could be.
AA: So, he just. Oh my gosh! - [Dallas swats a bee away from his face]
DG: I got it, I hit it
AA: Oh, please don't get stung!
DG: It's okay, I just punched it in the face.
AA: [laughs] Good, now it's angry. That's perfect.
So, it was kind of like you already wrote the songs and he just produced them basically?
DG: I had written all of the songs and demo'd them and stuff and sent them to him. I mean we worked a little bit on structures to like trim the fat, you know? Certain songs didn't have to be as long as they were or we could've extended certain parts but they pretty much stayed the way they were and he made sure they sounded good.
AA: Are the influences for Little Hell kind of the same as your older albums?
DG: Musically? There's definitely some different stuff going on, especially from the first record which is just me and a guitar. This record definitely expands on certain ideas There are songs that could almost be considered rock songs, just like full band kind of vibe. But there are still songs that are at its core me and a guitar.
AA: Yeah, because the two tracks that I've heard were "Northern Wind" and "Fragile Bird" and those were so different.
DG: Yeah, that's like the two extremes and then there's a lot of in-between those two songs.
AA: So, the albums like very diverse in that sense.
DG: Yeah, I guess so.
AA: So, what's, like, the hardest part about touring?
DG: Uh, just sort of the wear and tear like emotionally and physically that it can have on you - that's all. Because, you can go through long periods of time where you're just in and out of different time zones and not a lot of sleep and eating poorly and stuff like that so it's hard to stay healthy. But then, you get to play music every night so that's a plus.
AA: Well, what do you do on your downtime?
DG: I don't really have any.
AA: Really? Did you bring a skateboard, I read that you skateboard a little bit.
DG: I usually do, yeah now that the weather's getting nicer, yes, I will bring a skateboard.
AA: Do you have it with you?
DG: No, because I just flew in here and now I'm flying home so on those things you just bring as little as possible. The least amount of stuff that you can bring that the airport will lose is the better, you know.
AA: Yeah, exactly. So, who are you excited about seeing at Sasquatch?
DG: Well one of my favorite bands ever is called Archers of Loaf who have just recently started playing shows again. They're playing right after us and I've never seen them play.
AA: I've never heard of them, I'll have to check them out.
DG: They're awesome. I don't even care what they play because they've got a bunch of records so it's just going to be cool to see them. I never thought I'd ever get to see them because they broke up also I never thought I'd get to say, you know, up next is Archers of Loaf so that's pretty cool. And then um, I just got to see Basia Bulat who's Canadian which is cool. Modest Mouse is also playing, should be neat.
AA: Are you going to watch the Flaming Lips?
DG: Yeah, there's the Flaming Lips, too. There's lots of stuff to check out.
AA: So how is touring with City & Colour different than with Alexisonfire?
DG: Um, it's just different people, you know what I mean? It's pretty much the same, I mean touring is touring. The show is obviously a lot different, you know. One show is like let's see how loud we can be and how sweaty we can get where the other show is like let's see what kind of ridiculous stories I can come up with for in-between songs. Yeah, that's the difference.
AA: Do you feel like you're going to have to choose between Alexisonfire and City & Colour since City & Colour is growing so much?
DG: Basically for the last five years I've just been trying to do both as much as possible. I always kind of thought that one day, I would settle down. I used to call City & Colour my retirement project where it was like when I was older I would sit down with an acoustic guitar. So, I guess that's sort of like a cross that bridge when I get there kind of thing.
AA: Well, they're both great bands so either one is a great decision.