It’s like the Canadians are rubbing our faces in it. First they gave us Alexisonfire, which in turn spawned the soulful, acoustic sounds of City & Colour and now AOF axe-man Wade MacNeil has delivered a top-notch record with his side project Black Lungs.
Wade was kind enough to donate some of his rare downtime to us…
Interview w/ Wade MacNeil (Vocals/Guitars)
of Black Lungs (Canada)
By Cameron Chambers
Hey Wade, how are you today
I’m great Mr Chambers, how are
Ha ha, I’m good man. Mr Chambers
is a bit formal though dude, you can call me Cam if that’s easier?
Nice, ha ha. I was trying to get
a little informal with the operator before… she’s called me like,
three times today for all these interviews and yeah, she wasn’t having
it, ha ha.
Both Alexisonfire and Black
Lungs are off the road at the moment, what’s been keeping you busy?
Well, I’m kind of actually going
nuts doing shit for both of them at the moment… just not in the full
on, touring sense.
The Black Lungs record just came
out and we’ve been doing shows all round Ontario and we’ll also
be doing the Warped Tour in Canada. We’re actually playing this Sunday
as well! Alexis are working on a new record right now too, so it’s
just music, music, music, man.
Considering how much time you’ve
spent touring over the last few years does it
feel a little strange to be chilling at home?
It’s a bit of a mind fuck really.
When we came back home and to not play every day… man, we’d been
on tour for five months straight up to that point and yeah, to get home
and not see the guys every day and wake up in my own bed… it’s a
It’s strange to wrap my head
around because we’ve kind of stopped dead and just taken some time
away, we didn’t even practice, no nothing! But I’ve been loving
it and just barbecuing every day, ha ha.
Living the life man, ha ha.
Right on man
For those that are new to Black
Lungs, the band actually started quite a while ago however you’re
the sole original members, correct?
It’s kind of gone through a
couple of different incarnations, but its definitely frustrating trying
to find people to play. I did as much as I possibly could on my own
and I’ve just had whichever friends I could play shows for me… it’s
been a revolving door of Ontario musicians.
Taking into account how busy
Alexisonfire got, did you think a Black Lungs record would ever see
the light of day?
It’s actually been done for
close to two years, with the artwork and everything, but with Alexis
touring so much there was no point putting it out if I wasn’t able
to do anything with it.
So yeah, it’s just been sitting
on the shelf and now I’ve got more than enough songs for another one.
Now that Alexis have some time off I’m finally able to tour the record,
so I’m just glad it’s finally out there.
Usually you’ve got four other
band members to bounce ideas off but Black Lungs is just yourself and
Sammi Bogdanski. Were you nervous about stepping into the studio and
showing the rest of the world your songs?
Definitely man. It’s like that
whenever you play a show or put a record out… it’s definitely all
on me. It wasn’t someone else’s voice, it was my voice. I’d be
like, “oh yeah, I definitely fucked up that guitar part”, ha ha.
Whether it’s praise or criticism
it’s all on my shoulders so it’s a little stressful, but I didn’t
really think about that kind of thing in the studio. Fuck it, ha ha.
Who are some of Black Lungs
key influences and do you approach your song writing in a different
way compared to when you’re writing for Alexis?
The thing that makes it clearly
a Black Lungs song is the simplicity of it all, and lyrically I wanted
to strip the songs down and just make them easy to grasp. They’re
simple songs… that’s the aim, you know, just three or four chord
songs that would sound great even if there wasn’t stuff on top of
The message is still the same
even though everything is stripped down… I just wanted it to make
the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and I definitely didn’t
want to go off on the deep end and make it too complex.
Now correct me if I’m wrong,
but members of the Cancer Bats, Moneen and George from Alexis have been
acting as your band for Black Lungs live shows yeah?
Well, this Sunday I have two of
the guys from Bedouin Soundclash playing with me and then the organ
player from The Archelles, who are another band from around here. We’ve
got some shows coming up with Anti Flag and then the Warped Tour, where
I’ll have a few of the guys from The Creepshow playing… they’re
this great psychobilly band from around here and then one of the Bedouin
Soundclash guys again.
Is it hard to get all of you
in the same place at the same time or do you just accept that you’ll
have a different line up for every show, ha ha?
Yeah man, completely different
line up for every show. Last weekend was with different people too.
I had Ian from Attack In Black playing drums and Ian’s dad Dave played
lead guitar, ha ha!
It’s awesome coz he wailed,
ha ha. I phoned Ian’s place to see if he was available and his dad
Dave answered and yeah, he wanted to play so I said “sure Dave, come
have a solo”… and he did!
The record’s been receiving
a lot of great reviews since its release man, what kind of reception
were you anticipating for it?
I wasn’t really sure. It’s
a bit of a stretch from Alexis and I think that a lot of people would
be surprised that I eve know how to sing, so I don’t know, I guess
I was going into it with lowered expectations, ha ha.
If it gets a good review
I’m like, “that’s nice”, even if they say something that doesn’t
make sense and compare me to The Clash or something, even if it’s
not the truth you’re like “yeah, good times”, ha ha. If someone
cuts you down then you’re like “fuck him, what does he know”.
He probably doesn’t even play music, ha ha.
You just do it because you want
to do it and because you’re passionate at the end of the day, so I’m
not too concerned.
Your voice is instantly recognizable
which gives “Send Flowers” a sense of familiarity, but did you think
fans of your other band would embrace something, which is rooted in
more traditional punk and rock n roll?
I don’t know. I want people
to know it’s me but at the same time I don’t want to use the Alexisonfire
trump card, you know? That always comes up in interviews, like, “you’re
doing a solo project, is it like Dallas’ solo project”? So those
two things almost do me a disservice.
It’s kind of funny though, at
a show the other week this kid came up to me and was insulting Alexis
and saying he wasn’t into it but then he was like “loved the show”
and then he’d go back to cutting down Alexis. You can tell me once
you don’t like the band and I’m glad that you like Black Lungs,
but take it easy, ha ha!
August and September sees you
hitting the road with Anti Flag for a small run of shows, do you have
any other touring plans for the rest of 2008?
Well, I have a headlining tour
in the UK after the summer and then hopefully we can get over to Australia
sometime in the fall, so that would be October. I’d love to spend
a whole bunch of time in Australia you know? Just play one show and
then just hang out.
The Canadian and Australian governments
seem to like each other so it would be pretty hard to extradite me,
We’re going to finish up
with a quick few questions if that’s cool man?
Favourite place you’ve travelled
to with the band?
I don’t want to sound insincere
because I’m doing an Australian interview, so I wouldn’t want people
to think I say this to everyone, but Australia is definitely my favourite
place to play. It’s like Canada on Spring Break!
It reminds me home, expect that
it’s a home that’s way more beautiful and has an interesting accent.
What’s your favourite gig
that you’ve attended as a fan?
One of the most eye opening things
I’ve ever seen was The Misifts playing when in was the ninth grade…
that’s what got me into punk rock. There were people getting into
fights and it was long enough ago that there were still Nazis at shows
and then the Sharp skins were beating up the Nazis!
It was dangerous and wild and
I wanted to be around that more often. It’s started my love affair
with punk. It was weird people and there was loud music and it was dangerous!
Favourite album at the moment?
My favourite at the moment? Oh
my god! Ha ha
The new Constantines record man,
I’ve been playing that like crazy so I’ll have to go with that!
Most ridiculous thing you’ve
done for a dollar?
Ha ha ha, I’m not that guy.
I’m not that guy that drinks tons of hot sauce or maple syrup, nothing
that outlandish. I’ve never done anything for one dollar though, I
set my sights around $100!
Best hangover remedy?
Greasy food man! Bacon and eggs
and a huge fountain of coke!
Most embarrassing onstage experience?
When we started the Warped Tour
about two years ago man. As soon as we started I jumped off the drum
riser and didn’t just split my pants down the crotch, but I pretty
much ripped my pants in half, ha ha.
I don’t know how it happened!
Aside from being lit on fire I can’t think of anything worse, ha ha.
It was like I was wearing ass-less chaps! One minute I was on the drums
and then I jumped and then bang, I was wearing ass-less chaps, ha ha.
That’s all we’ve got time
for man, anything else you’d like to add?
Listen to Otis Reading man.
I’ll spread the word. Cheers
For everything Black Lungs related head to the bands Myspace page.