Headed back to Australia as part of Soundwave, punk legends Alkaline Trio will be hitting stages in our neck of the woods for the first time in three years. Ahead of the performances, we caught up with Matt Skiba for a brief chat about latest album ‘My Shame Is True’ and find out what keeps the band inspired after almost two decades together.
‘My Shame Is True’ has been out for around nine months now, what’s the response been like and what’s playing those new songs been like?
The response has been good, the songs are translating over well, it’s been great.
You recorded the album with Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore, how was that?
It was fantastic. We’ve been friends with those guys for a long time, and we’d been trying to make a record with them for a long time. Over the last few years we’d both just had really busy schedules so making those schedules coincide was a bit difficult. Once we landed it it was great. Bill has always been a hero to us, and it was a really great experience getting to make a record with him.
You’re headed back to Australia this month for Soundwave, it’s your first time back since 2010. Are you looking forward to getting back down?
We are, we’re really looking forward to it.
In addition to doing Alkaline Trio you’ve all been involved in side projects and solo projects, particularly over the past couple years. Was it important to step away and explore on your own a little to reconnect?
For sure. It’s good to exercise those other parts of writing and recording music. We’re all big bookworms and we’re all filmophiles, we all love movies and draw a lot of inspiration from those things too.
A couple more years and you’ll have been a band for around two decades – how do you think you guys have progressed?
Well, we’ve managed to stay together as long as we have, I think mainly through the very strong friendship, love and respect that the three of us have for one another. As far as progressing as a band, I guess that’s up to the listener to decide. For us, we’re always trying to improve as songwriters, storytellers and musicians. Not necessarily technically, or changing or sound or anything like that, but we never want to make the same record twice, and I’m pretty sure that we’ve managed to avoid doing that. To do that over the course of 17 years, to pat ourselves on the back a little, there’s something to be said for that. That alone I think shows a level of progression, I don’t think you can keep a fanbase for as long as we have, that’s seemingly always growing, by putting out the same records.
What keeps you inspired after so long?
We listen to a lot of stuff. I don’t listen to a lot of the music that people probably think we do, I listen to all different kinds of stuff. A lot of it doesn’t really apply to Alkaline Trio, it may spark an idea, but I think we’ve been a band long enough that we’ve been become our own thing. The band has its own life, and that very thing is inspiring to always try and make the best record. Whether the fans agree or not, I think ‘My Shame Is True’ is my favourite record we’ve done as far as the final product and end results go, and hopefully it’ll be the same with the next record. A progression isn’t always an evolution, or that we’re trying to change the formula, it’s more a change in our approach.
What’s on the cards for the next year or so, have you been writing at all?
I have been writing, not for Alkaline Trio. I’m working on a Sekrets record right now, but I just finished writing a screenplay, so I’ve been quite busy writing outside of Alkaline Trio. Now that the The Hell album is done, the Sekrets record is about halfway done, once that’s finished we’ll start working on Trio songs.
Alkaline Trio play Soundwave festival throughout February, as well as a pair of sideshows with Jimmy Eat World and Panic! at the Disco. ‘My Shame Is True’ is out now through Epitaph.