Alkaline Trio swears it's not going through a mid-life crisis. As three individuals, Matt Skiba, Dan Andriano and Derek Grant could hardly considered aged, but as a band, the Trio is almost 10 years old, which translates to "I was young when I started this, but that was 10 years ago."
In band years, 10 years old could easily be considered mid-life, if not closing in on geriatric.
Nevertheless, after all these dark years Alkaline Trio has managed to achieve tenure in its topical realm of alcohol binges, death wishes and failed relationships and released its sixth full-length album, "Crimson," less than a year ago, following it up with "Crimson: The Deluxe Edition" six months later.
With a generation of new fans dying its hair black and ready and willing to soak up all its gloomy glory, it came as something of a surprise when the Chicago pop punk band announced it planned on celebrating its decade of death obsession and debauchery by ditching its spot on the Warped Tour and embarking on a nostalgia tour.
"The Occult Roots of Alkaline Trio: Early Songs for Eerie People" tour kicked off March 30 and finds the band digging through the dark trenches of its musical catalog.
"We've done the Warped Tour a few times and have had good experiences, but it's a lot more enjoyable for us to do our own tour where we can do longer sets and not be in the middle of a field every day," says drummer Grant. "We really wanted to do something special this time around."
As a shout out to not just the early songs, but also the early fans, each date on the "Roots" tour includes a song-by-song run-through of 1998's "Goddamnit!," followed by an acoustic set -- something the Trio has never done in the U.S. -- and concluded with fan requests previously submitted via The Blood Pact, which, for lack of a better term, is a fan club on the band's Web site.
"We feel that much of our older catalog has been neglected for far too long," says singer/guitarist Skiba. "There are people out there who have been loyal to the band over the years despite the many changes that have taken place. We feel that we owe our loyal following a chance to hear songs that haven't been played in years, and that we owe it to ourselves to revisit those songs that have gotten us where we are today."
A roots tour -- especially in the wake of a new album -- is undoubtedly a testament to the band's fan loyalty. But isn't it also admitting that your band has changed so much that there's a viable gap between the old and new fans?
"We've never denied the fact that the music of the band has evolved; that's sort of the whole point of what we do," says Grant. "We have no interest in repeating what's already been done. We have lots of new emerging fans but I'm sure there are a lot of people that would much rather that the band still sounded the way it did when it started. We feel like we are in a fairly unique position and figured that this is a good chance to stop and reflect."
Still, Grant denies there's much of a difference between the crowd of old-school fans screaming the unsettlingly wry opening line of perennial fave "Radio" -- "Shaking like a dog sh*tting razorblades" -- and the fan whose encounter with the "Mercy Me" video on MTV just recently spurred him to investigate the band.
"The whole climate of the music industry is just totally different nowadays. For the people who are just getting into the band now, there's a good chance that they may have heard us on the radio or saw us on MTV or in a magazine, whereas even five or six years ago, that just really wasn't a possibility. You can definitely see in the faces of a lot of the younger audience members that they're not familiar with some of the older albums, so it's been great for us to be able to play these songs for them. Plus it's just fun for us to do."
So far, he says, each set on the tour has been different due to the Blood Pact requests, and even if it means the band has to re-learn the oldies but goodies at soundcheck, Alkaline Trio remains true to its roots and, of course, fatally yours.
Alkaline Trio spews its jet black cynicism across The Rave on Sunday, April 30. Against Me! opens the 8 p.m. show.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”