You could say Dallas Green is finally free to make the music he was always meant to make.
After more than a decade as a vocalist and principal songwriter for platinum-selling hardcore outfit Alexisonfire, Green closed that chapter in his life last year when the band embarked on its final, farewell tour.
Now he's completely focused on his longtime acoustic side project, City and Colour, the moniker under which he recently released his fourth solo album “The Hurry and the Harm.” It's full of his signature haunting vocals and heavy lyricism, but Green says that while it's a million miles from the aggressive screamo that Alexisonfire was known for, it owes a lot to that band, since the breakup was a major lyrical inspiration.
Green, who on Thursday plays Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, recently called from a tour stop in Asheville, N.C., to talk about it.
TBO: It seemed like you were really done with Alexisonfire and ready to focus on City and Colour when it was first announced you were leaving. Why did you decide to do a farewell tour with them almost a year later?
DALLAS GREEN: It was because the way things ended didn't feel good at all. We had soured something we had so much fun with and spent so much time together on. The last tour (before the farewell tour) I told the guys I was leaving and it was very depressing. So when the chance arose to put it to sleep and gain the closure we didn't have before, and to rekindle my relationship with those guys, it was awesome. The difference between us and other bands that break up is that they hate each other. But for us, it was that I had this other thing to do and that I like it more.
TBO: City and Colour has always been mostly a solo effort, but how did having great musicians like bassist Jack Lawrence from The Raconteurs in the studio affect the recording this time?
DG: It allows the idea that I've come up with to be executed and taken to the next level. (Lawrence) can listen to the demos, and when we start playing, he can take a transition and try something different, and it makes more sense. In the past I played a lot of the instruments myself, and I played up to my limitations on certain instruments. I have lots of ideas for sounds I think would fit but I'm not someone who can play every keyboard.
TBO: Is “Hurry and the Harm” your best album ever?
DG: I think so, but that's sort of how I hope I feel about every record. I never want to think I've written my best song or played my best guitar. I don't see the point of doing this otherwise. People get emotionally attached and will say my first album is the best, or some earlier songs are my best, and that's OK, you're allowed to think that as a listener, but I'm very comfortable with where I'm at.
TBO: City and Colour isn't necessarily sad music, but it has a melancholy to it. Is that who you are as a person?
DG: Well I never approach lyrics like work. I know a lot of writers wake up and put on dress shoes like they're going into the office to hopefully write a hit that day. I don't do that. Lyrically I wait for things to present to me. But when I'm happy on the couch watching TV with my dog, I don't think about writing songs. It's when other stuff is going on that I pick up the pen. Plus I think my voice is melancholic anyway. Sometimes I'd love to write a pop song about Friday night or whatever. But I think this is what my voice is meant to be.
TBO: Where do you want City and Colour to go from here?
DG: Some days I'm happy, some days nothing makes me happy, but I've never really had goals, and I don't mean that disrespect to people who do, but I don't. I just want to play songs. World domination, to be the biggest thing in the world, that wouldn't feel good to me. I'm the antithesis of Lady Gaga, I don't live for the applause. I played these small bar shows for like 100 people in Australia recently, and I thought 'if it ever comes back to this, I'll be OK with that.' I'm very happy more people have found out about the songs, but I don't need to be on the cover of “Rolling Stone.”