Published on August 7th, 2011 | by Alan Cross


AoF Break-Up: Should Have Seen It Coming

It was…odd.  

George Pettit and Wade McNeil sat nursing beers quietly in a booth at the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Toronto.  It was mid-June 2009 and we were talking about the soon-to-be-released Old Crows/Young Cardinals album.  

Fan and critical anticipation was freakin’ HUGE and a #1 debut on the album charts was a foregone conclusion.  National and world tours were already laid out.  This band, which many had initially chalked up as a niche-y screamo outfit with very limited appeal was at the peak of its powers.

So why weren’t George and Wade more excited? They were subdued, melancholy and almost…sad.


Must be tired, I thought.  Maybe they’re pre-emptively weary knowing what was ahead.

Turns out, though, George and Wade knew that it was the beginning of the end.

The reason for the somberness was revealed in the second paragraph of George’s official AoF break-up statement:

Almost a year ago, Dallas informed us that we would be leaving after we finished our Old Crows/Young Cardinals touring cycle.  Trying to balance his life between touring with us and at the same time quelling the success of City and Colour was a task too difficult to continue managing.  He informed us he wanted to focus his efforts on City and Colour.

Hindsight Revelation #1:  When Dallas started having a significant number of cross-format hits and began winning Juno Awards, we should have begun to really question the future viability of AoF.

Under the knowledge Dallas was leaving, we completed the Dogs Blood EP and toured Europe, Australia and Canada.  Our last show in St. Catharines, Ontario, on December 19, 2010 was poised to be the last-ever Alexisonfire concert with a line-up as we knew it.

Hindsight Revelation #2:  Was it the fans’ imagination, or was there an extra intensity to that show? It was hard to tell, given that it was hometown Christmas show.  But thinking back…

After much deliberation, we decided to continue and attempt the difficult task of replacing Dallas, but time got the best of us.  Over the last six months, we all dealt with a litany of personsal issues, which pulled us further and further from Alexisonfire.

Hindsight Revelation #3:  By the time of that St. Cathatines show, AoF had been around for ten years.  The friends that formed the band were older, wiser, had families and mortgages and probably looking for a little more out of music and life in general.  Given that the average life of a band is about seven years, AoF was already well into injury time.

In addition to that, Wade was recently asked to join another band [the very fierce and fine English band, Gallows] and he felt it was an opportunity he would like to pursue.

Hindsight Revelation #4:  I’ve talked to Wade several times about his Black Lungs project and I did get the idea that he was looking to stretch his horizons more than he could do within the confines of either BL or AoF.  But to leave the band for another?  Never.  Unless, of course, Dallas was going to go first…

Was the break-up amicable?  Not really.  Was it necessary?  Probably.

Hindsight Revelation #5:  If there was tension within the band, I didn’t hear about it.  Did you?  They sure hid it well.  Professional.  Classy.

But then I started thinking back to last November when and chat I was having with their label’s president was interrupted by a phone call.  When he finished, I’d never seen him more excited.

“We put City and Colour tickets on sale today for a show at Royal Albert Hall in April.  We figured we’d sell a couple of hundred out of the gate and then eventually get close to capacity.  But the gig sold out in three hours!  Royal F-ing Albert Hall!  And the show is five months away!”

Uh-oh.  How can you have a single member of a collective have so much individual success without it affecting the dynamics within the group?

As for myself, Jordan and Christopher, the future is largely unwritten.  I would say this is my retirement of playing music, but that feels too much like famous last words.  Keep your ear to the ground…We talked about several special releases around our 10-year anniversary

Dammit, this is sad but in hindsight, inevitable.  If these farewell shows do happen, better see as many as you can.

About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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11 Responses to AoF Break-Up: Should Have Seen It Coming

  1. houseofdavies says:

    Dallas was the lweak link in that band, anyhow. Addition by subtraction. Hopefully they figure that out…

  2. Joe says:

    AoF had a good run. All the band members brought something special. I'm glad I purchased a limited edition green vinyl record of "Dogs Blood"! I wish all the best to the guys as they move forward.

  3. Karl says:

    Nice article. Definite need for spell-check.

  4. Dawg says:

    I know people will be upset with me on this one. But i really hate the City and Colour stuff. It's so wishy washy…I can only listen to it for about 5 mins then i want to pull my f..in hair out! Sad day for AoF fans….oh well

  5. Doug Ralph says:

    The Northern, Young Cardinals, At The Birds Foot and Fragile Bird are the greatest songwriting I've seen from both AOF and CAC. Each outfit has done amazing in the last few years, and at this point it seems as if they can both expand from here.The split makes sense for Dallas, but I wish that they would not close the AOF door. If history can teach us anything, it is that the announcement of a band split is just the first clue towards a bands reunion tour. In the next 10 years, City and Colour will get bigger, and Alexisonfire will be fondly remembered by few. But as the popularity of CAC fades, and the memory of AOF becomes urban legend, the talk of an AOF reunion will surface. This might be the best thing for the band in general, but is it worth the lost music we will get from using the word breakup versus hiatus?

  6. Shane MacIsaac says:

    Wrote some new songs today. This shit's so heavy it's going to make dogs blood look like a ska record!!! @ratbeard

    Just got home from rehearsal. New songs are coming together well. I'd say they are doomy,sexy,boozy,ugly,heavy,noisy,hopeful and viscious.

    Breaks my heart, RIP Alexisonfire. The only band ever.

  7. Kevin Barker says:

    It definitely is a sad day when a band like AoF call it quits. They really helped to pioneer loud music into the mainstream and dragged many other great bands into the limelight with them. 4 solid records and 2 EPs is plenty of music for the faithful to keep listening to for years to come.

    Question: Is Wade joining the Gallows a legit, confirmed thing? That would be amazing, and plausible, but both he and Jay Malinowski have been talking on Twitter lately about writing songs together

  8. jallz says:

    Breaks my heart! I hope they have a last Canadian Tour for their fans, or a reunion tour. I wish I'd had more warning so I could have attended that last show. Though I love city and colour…damn Dallas right now lol, but all the best to their future. First band I ever saw in concert, have their tattoo on my back, the only band ever…rest in peace.

  9. Rob says:

    Why is there 'heat' right now between 102.1 The Edge and AOF?

  10. Tim says:

    I was at the last show in december – It definitely had an air of weirdness to it. Like something bigger was happeneing. Couldn't explain it at the time but obviously can now. Glad I was there. Here's a video I shot from the sidestage that night (its nice to have friends in good places): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2Ta3HigOEo

  11. Tim says:

    I read Georges message on Saturday and was truly heart broken. I'd been a fan for most of those 10 years, being introduced to them as the opening act for Disturbed. Then a few months later at very small show at the Burlington music centre. While in broadcasting school in Belleville I had the honour of doing my very first band interview with these guys (god it was horrible), they were amazing and the way they put up with me and my nerves was amazing. I loved this band, my wife has come to love this band, my sone loves this band, and now hearing that they're gone I feel that a part of my youth is gone as well. So much love for AOF

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