Solo projects are inherently a risk. Traditionally, few members of any prominent band have seen success in this sort of undertaking, and even fewer have enjoyed both critical and commercial success. Add to this the bizarre notion of creating stripped-down music that doesn't even reference the original band's genre, and you certainly have less examples of success to point to.
Until a couple of years ago, Dallas Green was better known as the dulcet voice of Alexisonfire. The band's feverish live shows and rabid fanbase quickly earned them the distinction of being one of the most exciting and talked about bands in Canada.
During some time off between tours, Green assembled a collection of songs he had been writing over the years. He released a very limited pressing of the songs which he recorded using only acoustic guitar and his plaintive voice. Something in these tracks resonated with people in a completely unanticipated way. Not surprisingly, the songs found their way onto the Internet where fans started passing them around. With none of the obvious viral marketing that goes on now, there was a groundswell of interest in this unassuming collection of compositions. It was becoming clear that there was serious interest in what Dallas was creating. In 2005, Alexisonfire's sophomore album went Platinum in Canada, the band won the Juno Award for New Group of the Year, and in his home country, Green quietly debuted his full-length album titled "Sometimes" under the solo moniker, City and Colour.
In a rare break between Alexisonfire outings that year, City and Colour undertook a cross-Canada tour, performing in intimate settings with only his guitar and a microphone. The same intimacy that Green offered in his songs was offered to fans across Canada, resulting in long line-ups for sold out shows. The fever soon spread across the Atlantic where City and Colour played a sold-out Barfly tour in the U.K. Exceeding everyone's expectations, "Sometimes" achieved Platinum certification in 2006. Remaining sincere and affable, Green gave a heartfelt performance at the 2006 MuchMusic Video Awards, where City and Colour won the People's Choice Favourite Canadian Artist award. In 2007, Green performed live on the JUNOS, (Canada's Grammys), taking home the award for Alternative Album of The Year.
Released in March 2007, "City and Colour Live" brought fans front row and center to experience the memorable moments of his performances. The combo CD/DVD package featured 13 heart-wrenching live tracks including a unique performance on piano of Alexisonfire's fan-favourite "Happiness by the Kilowatt"
"Bring Me Your Love" is City and Colour's sophomore studio album and first available in the U.S (2/12/08, Vagrant). It evolves and adds layers to the sentiments in those vulnerable moments shared by Green on his original independent release. Co-produced by Dan Achen (Junkhouse) and recorded at Catherine North Studio in Hamilton, the first song "Forgive Me" opens with footsteps on a wood floor, the whirling of a nearby fan, and the rustling of Green picking up his acoustic guitar and sitting on a leather chair to perform on the former altar of this church-turned-studio. Every instrument used in the recording is "pre-loved", vintage gear complementing the warmth and honesty of Green's compositions - an intentional approach to capture the essence and intimacy of how records used to sound. Instruments and vocals were carefully recorded live off the floor, giving the songs depth and intimacy, and eschewing the cut-and-paste approach that is so common in today's recordings. The album feels like a throwback to the days when an album's thrills and beauty were found not just in exceptional songs and musicianship, but also in its blemishes and simplicity.
"Bring Me Your Love" delivers Green's signature delicate vocals accompanying another set of candid musings, which continue to articulate his engaging perspective on love and life. It rings with frames of beautiful melody surrounding meaty indie, folk-rock landscapes. Gordon Downie (The Tragically Hip) adds his distinctive vocals to "Sleeping Sickness" and appearances by friends and label mates Dan Romano and Spencer Burton (Attack in Black) are a reminder that these are an entirely new collection of songs, written during a very prolific year. Green continues to demonstrate his talents as a musician, singer and songwriter moving comfortably and seamlessly between City and Colour and his role anchoring a successful post-hardcore band. The dozen tracks on "Bring Me Your Love" are a beautiful insight into the quieter side of an undeniable talent.
Interview by hstisgod
There's a lot of artists out there doing a lot of genres and quite honestly, very little can set them a part from each other in vast technological schemes of the 21st century. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Dallas Green, lead singer of City and Colour and Alexisonfire who is attempting to make that effort.
Of the instruments you played for the recording of Little Hell, which did you enjoy the most?
"I got to play the drums on the very last song [Hope For Now]. Whenever I demo'ed the songs, I knew that was the one, and I've never really got a chance to play drums on a song."
Though, they won't play live again til July 1st at the Hop Farm Festival in Kent, UK, Dallas sounded very much at peace with his current lineup.
"I've known Scott [Remila] and Dylan [Green] about half my life, we met through the wonderful world of skateboarding. They were already friends and became obvious choices for a great rhythm section. And of course Daniel Romano who comes from a band called Attack In Black. He's sort of like a wiz kid."
City and Colour's first single "Fragile Bird" has already become the bands highest charting single to date, getting to #1 on the Canadian rock/alternative charts this past April. The last album was based on a Bukowski book title. What about this one..
"I wrote a song called Little Hell a while ago and I dont know Little Hell just kept coming back to the forefront, as I thought about it more, it made more sense. For me Little Hell is sort of the trials and tribulations and how you deal with the personal problems every one has in life. Whether it be an emotional relationship or something with your parents, just life in general, do ya know what I mean? There's definitely some songs that deal with that (romanticism) but its about everything."
What was it like working with producer Alex Newport?
"With Alexis we recorded with Julius (butty). With Alex, he already has 20 years of experience recording with tape, which was greeat which is something i really wanted to try. He's very meticulous, he always hears things i dont hear, I would do a take and think i nailed, and he would say no do it again, which can be frustrating."
...so he's a bit of a slave driver?
"I guess, but there was that common goal. There's a lot of times, you feel, you've got it, but mentally its just cause youre tired... or you think you're saying you got it cause you want to get to the next thing. But thats the good thing about him, especially with tape. There wasn't a lot of lee-way, either do it well , or do it again....I feel the songs i write, benefit from that sort of warmth that tape provides, but also i wanted it to sound real. Its not like pro-tools where you can just move it around. I think I've always wanted to do it that way."
So why would we suppose that Dallas' approach may be more sincere than most?
"I really tried to go as far as I possibly could [on previous albums] but this time I wanted it to seem more authentic, is that the proper word?