Alkaline Trio Biography
Review The Artist (22)
Follow me here: Punk rock is like Joan Rivers. In an ongoing quest for eternal youth, it continually tears at the flesh of its own face, pushing and prodding and tightening and twisting until what emerges is a boring old monster that, somehow, everyone is OK with looking at. And this far down the line, punk rock has been reshaped so many times it sometimes looks like a busload of 70-something sun-bunnies in coastal Florida, face lifted into an army of look-a-likes. Somewhere along the ride, its mean spirit left the tuneful bands for hardcore and metal, and punk rock filled with melody became nice. And funny. And safe. And dull as shit.
Enter Alkaline Trio, circa 1997. Right out of the gate, the kids realized that while this may still be loosely categorized as "pop-punk," it’s a full step beyond. There’s a dark side to this band, a world-weariness, and some honest-to-whoever honesty all balled up into a completely kinetic force. Even the jaded fucks can’t help but sing along to those two different-but-perfectly-complementary voices, singer/guitarist Matt Skiba’s triumphant rasp and singer/bassist Dan Andriano’s more measured, sweet croon as they combine to completely wreck audiences with bittersweet songs about love and loss, drugs and drink,God and Satan, happiness and pain. All of this comes from three young guys, about as many chords, and a healthy supply of beer, cigarettes, and heartbreak.
"There’s definitely a reason we play the kind of music that we do," says Skiba. "We offer kids a little darker slice of punk rock. Hopefully it separates us from bands that sing about going to the mall and chewing bubblegum." Two albums, both recorded on a shoestring for indie label Asian Man, delivered on the promise of Alkaline Trio’s early live shows: As fucked-up as they are wonderful, both 1998’s Goddamnit and 1999’s Maybe I’ll Catch Fire breathed new life into a music world rife with second-stringers and gonna-bes that thought (and continue to think) that looks and guitar tones were more important than feelings and smarts. The audience-band connection was both immediate and binding.
More and more kids started showing up, and watching them all simultaneously sing "I'd love to rub your back" along with Matt was pure magic every time. Vagrant Records showed up, too, in time to plunk the band into Minnesota’s semi-legendary Pachyderm Studios and release 2001’s set, From Here To Infirmary, produced by longtime Trio associate Matt Allison and expertly mixed by Jerry Finn, a man who’s made similarly minded bands (Jawbreaker, Green Day, and Blink 182, among others) sound extra fine. Then came 18 months of non-stop action: Warped Tour, Plea For Peace Tour, Vagrant America Tour, Blink-182 Tour. Is your city on the map? Alkaline Trio played there once or twice. A great looking video (for "Stupid Kid") hit the airwaves. Somewhere in there, drummer Mike Felumlee departed, and in stepped Derek Grant, an old friend of Andriano’s. The two met at legendary Chicago punk palace the Fireside Bowl. Grant was a perfect fit, and the new Trio started writing songs together almost immediately after he arrived. Says Skiba: "I feel like there’s three members of the band again for the first time in a while." Grant concurs, "The minute I sat down behind the drums with these guys, it felt right. There was no doubt that this was where I wanted to be." he says. Which leads us to where these record company bios always do: The New Album. Everything the Alkaline Trio has done has been gut-punchingly great and Good Mourning can sit proudly next to those other albums without having to hover above them. Let's talk about the songs, shall we? That’s why we’re all here.
In keeping with its title, Good Mourning reveals and reinforces a peculiar Skiba trait: He rarely sounds more alive than when he’s singing about death, whether it’s the death of a relationship, or in the case of Good Mourning’s "This Could Be Love," his own demise. On it, he cheerily describes how someone might kidnap and murder him ("Step one, slit my throat / Step two, play in my blood") and in the same thought gives shout-outs to his various hometowns. "Continental" tackles the subject from a more serious angle, distilling the frustration of losing someone to addiction into a charged rock song with a new wavey breakdown. On the hyper-speed "Fatally Yours", he gets whacked by the end of a relationship. The deliciously titled "Donner Party (All Night)" posits "I guess it’s for the better if you just can’t feel a fucking thing / fall asleep and die. It was a dark year, explains Skiba. "With the band it was great, but I definitely had some things to write about. It feels good to get some of those things off your chest rather than have them swimming around in your head all the time. Aside from playing music with my friends and traveling with my friends, getting those kind of things out has become necessary for me."
Then there’s the deep and dark "All On Black," a blasphemous stab at redemption and the song that Skiba describes as "the most personal and specific on the record." Oddly enough, it may contain the most triumphant and cheeky pro-Satanic message in the history of rock, culminating in the line, "What's upside down, coated in silver? / This crucifix, my four-leaf clover." Alkaline Trio has always employed sinister imagery to push buttons, something the singer relishes: "If it offends people who are afraid to question their own faith, then it’s a good thing. We were on the list of records that a church wanted a certain record store to pull off the shelves. I was pretty happy about that. I don’t actually believe that there is a Satan or a hell or all that kind of stuff, but the imagery more than anything is exciting and challenging. But if it’s gonna piss somebody off for me to say I’m a Satanist, I’d be happy about that." Dan is happy for more direct reasons, and he’s not afraid to let it out. On "100 Stories" he finds out that hell is actually pretty cold and that hurting yourself isn’t all its cracked up to be. We find out once again that he’s got the melancholy spark of a young Elvis Costello, and the voice to provide a perfect counterpoint. He’s always brought that balance, and he provides Good Mourning’s bits of sunshine with a pair of love songs: "Every Thug Needs A Lady" (yes, you can assume he’s being silly with the title, but not the song itself) and "Blue Carolina."
"The music I’ve been listening to probably has something to do with it, and where I’m at now. I’m feeling better about things but Matt’s still evil," laughs Andriano. "I’m happy that Dan’s happy," says Skiba. "More than ever, it’s definitely a pretty huge difference between where we’re at in our lives. It makes it kind of different, but hopefully it’ll be something that people appreciate more than something that doesn’t make any sense. I think Dan’s songs are great, some of the best he’s ever written ˜they’re definitely the happiest he’s ever written. We like to have a little hope at the end of the tunnel. We don’t want somebody to listen to the record and wanna go jump off a bridge or something." The album ends with the touching, solo / acoustic "Blue In The Face," which despite its complete lack of rock, manages to encapsulate both Good Mourning and Alkaline Trio perfectly. Though weary, drained, and dejected, it manages to bear something funny, touching, and believable in one simple line: "Your coffin or mine?" After an album this strong, that question sounds not only inviting but almost inevitable."We’ve already gotten leaps and bounds beyond anything I would’ve imagined with this band," says Skiba. "Hopefully this doesn’t scare anybody away, and hopefully it invites some new friends."
Photo: Jay Blakesberg
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not a current fan | Reviewer: wide-eyed, knee-deep in surprise | 9/1/11
anyone else feel like Crimson was the beginning of the end?
to me most of the songs on Crimson and almost everything else after has lost that sort of visceral energy that i'll never tire of on Goddammit and Maybe I'll Catch Fire
Alkaline Trio Bio.. | Reviewer: Mark | 2/26/09
Alkaline Trio Bio.......
Living on a diet of alcohol and Punk with extra substance provided by drugs. Alkaline Trio silence the people that plague their wisdom of producing marvel’s set around their analysis of the underbelly of Chicago and a strewn mindset. Catching their Faithful with hooks, the observers feel the emotion spill from minds profoundly gifted. Alkaline Trio proposed to punk, later marrying it. Taking its followers on a honeymoon with shit loads of compassion.
Alkaline Trio’s input progresses beyond cliché’s; they are a unit sent to address a Punk Army that bows in ecstasy. Commencing in early 1998 with Godamit, with a collection of raw, cranky songs burning with desire. Front man Matt Skiba, Bassist Dan Adriano, and Drummer Derek Grant formulated a tendency to barricade themselves off from other bands that tried to elevate to their league. Godamit was the start to a crusade were success beckoned.
Alkaline Trio brought forward ‘Maybe I’ll Catch Fire’ in 2000 to add another raw impose. Still as electric and lyrically immaculate as godamit, still previewing a brittle life. The albums main attraction was ‘Radio’ a song with a heartfelt centre. Fans eased themselves into its brilliance. ‘Shaking like a dog shittin' razorblades, waking up next to nothing after dreaming of you and me, I'm waking up all alone, waking up so relieved’ Matt writes about his sleeping pattern, haunted by a lost lust. ‘Taking your own life with boredom, I’m taking my own life with wine -it helps you to rule out the sorrow, it helps me to empty my mind’ He labels his life as an alcohol fuelled one, stating the substance as a suppressant to crush the strain of torture he feels. ‘I've got a big fat fuckin' bone to pick with you my darling, In case you haven't heard I'm sick and tired of trying, I wish you would take my radio to bathe with you, plugged in and ready to fall’ The chorus places the annalist into a thought provoking mode, leaving a lasting effect. Matt hits out, bellowing out his gut twisting feelings with an acoustic gem that offers a preview of the trenches he’s stuck in, with no release lever.
Matt Skiba was born to engage musically. Becoming a muscle stimulant for Music’s flabby outlook. Branching outwards in a world were pain is contagious, were drugs become a supplement for him to confide in. He has the reluctance not to lie down to the God’s, preferring the devil as a role model. His mind empties into his mouth, to spew an array of lyrical gems. He was responsible for the upraise of a band on the warpath to reach out to its fans, and that was as a priority above fame.
Trying to address Music that is harshly underdressed, Alkaline Trio developed a sound worthy of punk/rock’s approval. Fighting generic sounds like a raging bull, Alkaline Trio released follow up creation ‘‘The Alkaline Trio’’ in 2001. A self-titled album with a mysterious undertone previewing the battle with drugs and self-realisation. Matt Skiba developed into a true titan among songwriters; his lyrical content was a reminder of the musical ammo he placed in the gun of justice. The album contained ‘Goodbye Forever’ a song that stabilised the band as the dark gods of punk. A ferocious, articulate analysis of relationships full of heartbreak and scars. You can almost feel the vulnerability. This Chicago Trio could do no wrong; they enabled a fan base, starting a revolution in small paces with music Satan would bellow out in the shower.
Chicago’s drug culture is a rife excuse for the City’s poverty. The severity of the problem hits record scales. A city that is famous for its deep dish pizza, lies a upon a substance ridden underground. That is were the inspiration and driving lyrics surface, when Alkaline Trio pen down their thoughts. Drugs, alcohol and depressive motives all bundle in to a concoction, a cocktail with a potency to enlighten any dim party. Those raw contributions ignited a spark, burrowing the under-skin of Rock, juicing it for all its attention.
Alkaline Trio form a pact of listeners that feel the passions that stream. 3rd contribution ‘From Here to Infirmary’ enlightened a new found glory as the band nestled into the arms of the fans that witnessed the commence at the blood soaked banquet. A free-flowing melodic input with an underlining of profound expression and detail. Alkaline Trio hit a tender nerve without punching their routes in the face. ‘Private Eye’ starts the track-list as a true staple, ferociously pulling the reviewer in and engulfing them into a sway. The song bolsters an album that is nearly flawless, as the guitar intro marries the vocals with undying love.
Matt Skiba writes honestly with a dash of crudeness, he sings about love-loss, and disarming from reality as drugs barricade him. ‘New Years Eve Was as Boring as Heaven, I Watch Flies Fuck on Channel Eleven’ a poetic analyse of a severe drug intake. He ferociously balls out is on take on a Murder Scene. ‘‘I Dredged This Lake Looking for Corpses, Dusting For Prints Prying Up the Floorboards’’ The track has a spooky definition. He reviews how he smokes him-self to slumber ‘and there's no ring, there's no ring on the phone anymore, There’s no reason to call I passed out on the floor, Smoked myself stupid and drank my insides raisin dry’ the character seems to be a police officer falling from grace. Alkaline Trio tell a story with a defining plot in everything they produce, which is a unique and rare strategy in a Music World were look is more judged than lyrical content.
‘From Here to Infirmary’ was the defining collection that stated a protest, a protest against people who thought ‘punk’ was genre growing stale and surpassing its sell by date. Yeah Alkaline Trio don’t harbour the tongue and cheek inventiveness of British punk like the Sex pistols or the Clash, but pay homage to the dark side of the genre which makes them a rare breed. Not a superficial band with multiple e numbers or colourings to aid their ego, that’s were music is heading, into a sanctum of emulation. Where bubble gum bands take shelter, wrapped in a cotton wool overcoat.
Alkaline Trio moved away from media attention, quietly sitting back, sipping their success. The band took a spell to ready themselves for another assault. ‘Good Mourning’ edged into the array as a fresh new cause in 2003. Bearing all the darkness and growling vocals, the album was destined for 1st grade. Not relying on the same terms, Good Mourning was a productive marvel with a glittering new sheen. Lyrically imaginative, Matt Skiba writing style changed and became more direct, he issued out his feelings without any precaution.
The potent drench of Punk would be delivered by ‘This Could Be Love’ a song with a care-free attitude. Matt growls out his discontent of his lost-love and his shivering mindset, he sings of his lust killing him in a drastic fashion. It’s a brilliant track, describing a mind running riot. ‘I don't blame you for walking away i'd do the same if i saw me i swear it's not contagious in four short steps we can erase this’’. Matt Skiba showed his resurgence to form, bellowing out his gut feelings with precision and class.
2005 brought on ‘Crimson’, a collection bustling with Musical urgency and rock steady triumphs. The customer would venture into a World when inhaling ‘Crimson’ in all its glory. Could be Alk3’s tastiest array yet? With appetizers ‘Time to Waste’ and ‘Burn’ to get the punk soaked tongue’s wagging. But Sadie prominently made ‘Crimson’ the most endearing bible to date. A song surveying ‘Susan Atkins’ aka Susan Gutz’ partake in a gruesome murder in ‘Charlie Mason’s’ crime novel. Alkaline Trio describe the incident vividly adding catchy hooks for good measure. The preview sends a shiver of nostalgia, without digging deep into a story that is prominently grizzly. ‘You're on your own my little nightmare, Your job is done here, you've scared 'em all to death, If they revive them just sit there, just smile dear, Make them thankful for every breath’ the lyrics tell the story in such an immediate way without wearing the plot to mush.
Alkaline Trio pounced upon punk, adding their own brand. Maybe with a darker tinge but with an honest swagger. Rallying a new Rock order, addressing the youth that bow to them, Chicago dark princes tell their story of breaking personal barriers, dysfunction and battles. Fans lap up everything from their beloved trio, screaming and swaying when engulfed their prized assets magic.
By Mark McConville
PUNK ROCK? | Reviewer: Dead and Buried | 2/16/09
I cant believe somebody said alkaline trio wasnt punk rock..have you ever listened to the MISFITS? go put on walk among us and tell me alkaline trio isnt punk rock. Oh my bad, you probably think that bands like Yellow Card and Blink 182 are punk rock Huh? Alkaline trio is classic 3 chord punk rock w/updated lyrics and the best example of punk rock that emerged in the 90's if there were anymore that came out in the 90s lol
Cooking Wine | Reviewer: Nick | 2/4/09
Sorry i'm late i was out spoiling my liver, i couldn't wait the sun was up for far too long today and i can't see straight but the two of you look awfully pretty, but i couldn'e wait... been awake for far too long today... and it isn't strong enough to burn away the cooking wine, and i'm just tired enough, if i close my eyes i'll sleep for days... Repeat and you have the greatest song by the greatest band ever.
Punk? | Reviewer: Moses | 11/26/08
First off kids AT is not a punk band! Rock/metal maybe? If they were doing this music 25 years ago or so it may have been considered punk same as the Misfits, Christian Death, and 45 Grave, but in 2008 not a chance fuckos! I guess it's real safe to try and irritate Christians but if they really had any balls they should bust out some swastika shirts! Like Sid and Stiv did! Are Bible belters the only religious group they have the balls to attack?
Get over it! | Reviewer: Renners | 11/16/08
So what if they spread an anti-religious message? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and if they want to be atheist then why not? The point is, they are a kickass band with kickass music! If they're point of view is enough to annoy you because of your religious beliefs, then maybe it is your own faith faultering! Adolf Hitler once stated 'it is more difficult to fight against faith than it is to fight against knowledge' and if they are succeeding to fight your beliefs then that just proves how awesome they are! And before all of you religious people have a go at me for this, i too am religious... I'm a pastafarian and my religion is looked down on by most other religions so dont be hypocrytical! What Alkaline Trio do to your religion is no different to what your religions do to mine! Get over it! That is all i have to say! I'm just sick and tired of people giving bands shit because of what messages can be interpreted from their songs... If Alkaline Trio want to cause controversy, then why stop them? It takes 2 to argue and from people fighting back against it, it only re-enforces their message, so please, fans of Alkaline Trio will understand this, and hopefully support it, and religious people should hopefully understand what i'm saying as well... Anyways, yeah...
alk3 | Reviewer: boghdan | 7/22/08
alkalie trio is my fav punk rock band ive
ever seen acctually thier the best punk band there is to dman bad they are satanist you dont have to be a satanist to be dark him(band is an example of that).as for satan burn in hell.i hope alk3 would wake up and leave this satanism
Definitely Trio | Reviewer: C-Rock | 6/23/08
You know, there was a time when the Trio wasn't my favorite band... I was so into blink-182 and that was fine with me... But when I started growing up, blink-182 became something I couldn't hold my own emotions to anymore. "Adam's Song" was the only song by blink that I actually liked anymore... I found Alkaline Trio in my ears one day and instantly fell in love with their lyrics and themes. Sure, people may say that they're bad for their Satanic inuendos, but Matt said himself that he doesn't even believe it. He quoted once that all religions are silly, and he is agnostic or atheist more than anything. Hell, I make my own music, and I've thrown a few punches at religion, myself. It might not make me look good in the eyes of people who'd be offended by it, but I'm not doing music to please people... I'm doing it to please myself and put my message out. That's what Matt does when he says things in his songs, no matter how touchy they may be. So all of you who say that you wish they'd crawl away from the Satanic scene... I say you're wrong, because without the "fun of Satanism," Alkaline Trio wouldn't have a lot of things that they have. If you haven't noticed, the front cover of 'Goddamnit!' has three clocks, all pointed at six (as a 666 reference). There couldn't be an Alkaline Trio without a little dark side, or else they'd have to call themselves the Rainbow Trio... And that wouldn't fit them at all!
So if you don't like the Satanism bits, that's a little too bad. I hear religious reference in "Help Me" as well, and that is one of my new favorite Trio songs.
Keep on rockin' and doing what you're doing, Dan, Matt, and Derek!
PRAY FOR THEM | Reviewer: Jesus Rocks! | 4/12/08
they are a great band. Their guitar riffs, the bass lines, the drums are awesome!..
But i REALLY pray that they would stop those satanic stuffs or getting into something that is really satanic, it really makes me feel bad about them.
God bless Alkaline Trio In Jesus name!
also for the other bands like AT.
masters of punk rock but.... | Reviewer: boghdan | 3/25/08
you know i listen to many rock stuff but i vr oce to conclusion that alkaline trio are the best in punk rock .but u know htis fucking church of satan turns their image negative i wish they wouldnt talk about rligion and trying to insult people.
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