Having split his time between Alexisonfire and City and Colour for the majority of his career, Dallas Green is now able to focus solely on City and Colour. Prior to the release of his fourth studio album, ‘The Hurry And The Harm’, Killyourstereo.com caught up with Green to discuss the new record, his plans to return to Australia, and why it’s okay to have a lack of faith in yourself.
The Hurry And The Harm is out really soon. How are you feeling about it?
Well, last night it officially leaked onto the internet, so on one end of the coin I’m happy that it’s finally out for people to find and listen to, but on the other side I’m like, could they not have just waited two weeks? I mean it’s been so long and the whole idea behind the name of the record is basically, I wish people could just cool it and have some patience. But I feel good, I’m glad it’s out. I’m proud of it. I mean, if I wasn’t proud of it I’d probably feel a little bit worse about it.
Yeah, I was going to say, I know you’ve said you’ve never been more proud of something you’ve done. What is it about this record in particular that you’re so proud of?
Well, I hope that that’s sort of how it should be with every new record that you put out, whether it’s me or someone else. You would hope that you’re constantly evolving and creating your best work, at least in your own eyes. And I don’t know, I just feel really good about it, and when I say that it doesn’t mean I don’t like the things I’ve put out in the past, it just means I feel the best about this as of right now, and I think that’s a good thing.
Are you concerned about peoples’ reactions or you’re not too bothered?
I could care less what people think.
(laughs) Well there is that song ‘Commentators’ on the record…
Yeah, that’s pretty much the answer. I mean, the thing is, especially nowadays and in my position especially, the way I write and the way I make records is sort of for myself first, and if I was in the business of making hits or worrying about how many records I was going to sell and this and that, then maybe I would be concerned about what people were going to say about it. But I’ve always approached records in the same way, so I don’t see why I would change that. Especially with today and with how short the attention spans of most people are, you can’t really rely or worry about what Johnny Twitter is going to say. All I can hope for is to make the best record, write the best song that I can and that I feel best about, and just hope that other people will like them.
What was the writing process like for this record?
With City and Colour, I’ve never really had the chance to just tour for a while and then sit down and say, "Okay, now it’s time for me to write a record." I’m always playing and always writing, you know, I’ve already got probably five or six bits of songs for new songs that I’ve been playing and my new record’s not even out. But that’s just how I play. When I’m home, I’ve guitars all over the house and I just sit and play them, and if ideas come to me that I think are worthwhile, I’ll record them and work on them and try to build on them and create a song out of them, and that’s kind of how this record came to be. I was sort of winding down the touring for Little Hell and got home and looked through my notebook and through my computer and realised I had twelve to fourteen ideas that I really liked, and were either done or on their way to being finished, and I thought, well, if I can really hunker down and finish these up then I’ll have a record. So that’s sort of how I always approach it, I just try to have twelve to fourteen songs that I really love, as opposed to writing fifty songs and picking the ten best ones. I don’t see the point in doing that, because there’s a good chance there’s a reason why forty of those songs didn’t make the record, so why spend your time writing them, you know?
You’ve mentioned in the past that you find songwriting difficult. Does it get any easier?
Nope! (laughs) No, I mean, melodies and chord progressions and things like that usually come, I don’t want to say easily, but I play guitar a lot and I’m always sort of singing and playing in my house and when I have down time. But lyrics are still quite difficult, I think just because I want it to be as good as I can make it. I’m sure that if I sat down, I could probably write a song every day, I’m just not too sure it would be good. So I take my time and really pine over the words and if that means I get one line a week or one line a month, then that’s what that means. But it’s always been the way I’ve worked at it, and when that stops working I’ll try a different approach. But so far, so good.
So you’ve been with Dine Alone forever. What is it about that partnership that works so well?
Well, it’s my best friend and manager, Joel, who started the label in order to put out the first City and Colour record. That was the first release and we started it just because I had made the record and we knew that no other label would really support me, based on the fact that I couldn’t tour or really do much for it because I was in Alexisonfire and touring full time. So we thought, let’s just start this label and we’ll put the record out through that, and it’s kind of been that way ever since, and now it’s just grown into a really reputable, bigger independent label here in Canada, and then obviously it has other little sections elsewhere in the world. But the origins are just me and my manager Joel driving his car and deciding to name a record label after a Quicksand song. So yeah, I don’t see why I would go anywhere else.
Yeah, fair enough. So you recorded the album in Nashville, and that was the first time you’d recorded outside of Canada, right?
Yeah, I’d always just sort of made records pretty close to home, usually based on time constraints, and the fact that it was a little bit more cost effective to make records close to home, based on the fact that you’re doing things on an independent label. And most City and Colour records were made with a month to spare between Alexisonfire projects or something like that, but this time I just wanted to go and do something different, you know? I wanted to have the ability to kind of live with the record as opposed to going back and forth to the studio from my house every day, and having those other things seep into it, I just wanted to immerse myself in the record and the record alone.
For the majority of your career you’ve had to split your time with Alexisonfire. What’s it like being able to just focus on City and Colour now?
I mean, that’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to leave and just do City and Colour, was because I wanted to see what it would be like to put all of my focus into one project, and into the project where I thought my heart and soul were headed towards. And I think I made the right decision, based on the fact that I have a new record so soon after my last one, because in the past I would have been trying to focus on writing songs for Alexisonfire, whereas now I have the freedom to just play guitar in my off time, in the weeks or days between touring, and I was able to write all of these songs.
Alexisonfire and City and Colour are obviously completely different, so are there other styles or genres that you might be interested in exploring as well?
Sure, yeah, I mean, I would love to make an R’n’B record, I’m just not sure that I’m capable of it (laughs). If I could make a record that sounded like D’Angelo’s Voodoo, I would, I just don’t know that I’m able to write the songs like that. I really love and grew up listening to bands like Mogwai and Bardo Pond, which are very instrumental laden, distortion, swelly, My Bloody Valentine style music. I have a couple of friends and we always talk about making a record like that. I don’t know if it will ever happen, but I listen to lots of different stuff, and as a songwriter, you can’t help but have ideas about how you would approach certain styles of music. But for right now, these are the types of songs that are coming out of me. These are the songs that I feel most confident about writing and finishing.
You’ve said you don’t have a lot of faith in something you’ve created. When it comes to putting your stuff out there, are you able to find faith in yourself somehow?
I mean, to a degree, yeah. I think that I’m able to find enough faith in myself that I can settle, that I can be complacent enough to allow it to go out, and sort of wash my hands of it. If I had the chance, I would probably just sit and overanalyse everything constantly, to a point where it just wouldn’t come out, so it’s kind of where I put myself. I give myself a few weeks in the studio and just try to get it finished as quickly as possible so that I can put it out and move onto the next song. But that’s okay, I think it’s okay to have a lack of faith in yourself, because you’re constantly trying to be better.
I know you were here fairly recently, but do you have plans to come back to Australia?
Yeah, as soon as possible really. I have a lot of touring booked up until late in the year… we were kind of hoping we were going to be coming for Big Day Out, but after months of talking, I guess it turns out that the people that are running the festival didn’t want us to do it, which I’m fine with because I would rather come and do my own headlining tour and play for people anyway. Hopefully soon. If I could come tomorrow, I would.