What have Alkaline Trio done in the 2000s?
After 1998’s Goddamnit debut and the rough-round-the-edges, anthem-filled 2000 follow-up, Maybe I’ll Catch Fire, Alkaline Trio got close to the mainstream in 2001 with From Here To Infirmary released through Vagrant. This sincere collection of dark, relationship-fuelled slabs of hilariously downtrodden poetry spawned two UK “hit” singles in ‘Stupid Kid’ (#53) and ‘Private Eye’ (#51).
The title of 2003’s Good Mourning encapsulated every double meaning the Illinois trio has put down on record and despite turbulent times within the band the album rocketed up the American charts. Crimson was released in 2005 to huge critical acclaim and further commercial success. Second single, ‘Mercy Me’ even reached the UK Top 30. At #30.
Their success meant the big boys called and 2008’s Agony & Irony was released through Epic. As expected, the album charted well initially but then label support fell away. No singles charted despite the album being yet another slice of Alkaline Trio brilliance.
Why are Alkaline Trio one of the most important rock acts of the past decade?
They took those three classic mainstream pop-punk chords made famous by Green Day and The Offspring and added the dark horror imagery of The Misfits. As a result, the music was as threatening as it was insanely catchy and the lyrics were inventive and often hilarious. The most important thing was that Alkaline Trio had the fallible rockstar genius that instantly made them a classic band.
Due to Matt Skiba regularly broaching the topic of heartbreak and depression, their music had a permanent, deeply emotional undercurrent. In an increasingly disconnected modern world, this inherently and inescapably human aspect married to the immediacy of their music has proved a massive and long lasting hit.
Watch the video to ‘Private Eye’ by Alkaline Trio
Andy Blyth from The Ghost Of A Thousand had the following to say about one of his favourite bands:
“The first time I ever saw Alkaline Trio was on music TV when i was teenager. I used to spend a lot of time sat in front of the TV with my guitar watching music videos. I remember ‘Stupid Kid’ coming on and being into it straight away. I think Alkaline Trio have an immediate appeal but unlike other bands that appeal never wears off. The hooks sound just as good the 100th time you hear them as they do the first time. I rushed out and bought From Here To Infirmary and it instantly became one of my favourite albums in that genre. I love the collaborations these guys do too, the Hot Water Music split and Matt appearing on H20 songs and his solo split with Kevin Seconds. The way they have influenced me probably isn’t that apparent in what I do in Ghost but I guess they taught me that simplicity often sounds a lot more effective than over-complicated riffs. Alkaline Trio’s song-writing is always what has set them apart from the rest with their no-nonsense approach. No part ever goes on too long and nothing about what they do is self-indulgent – it’s just honest and straight up. I think my favourite song would have to be ‘Private Eye’. I lived with a massive A3 fan for a couple of years and that was always on and many sing alongs were had.”
What is the legacy of Alkaline Trio and their music?
Ask any of the new wave of pop punk and hardcore bands and they will more than likely cite A3 as one of their favourite bands. Listen to the lead single, off Paramore’s latest album, ‘Ignorance’ and you’ll hear similarities in those guitars. Listen to the big breakthrough act of 2008, The Gaslight Anthem and you’ll hear the same deep, dark melodies. Take literally-just-reformed London indie punks, The Holiday Plan and brand new megastar Frank Turner and you’ll hear that bitterly clever lyricism. Alkaline Trio inspire the finest and the biggest.
What is next for Alkaline Trio?
Alkaline Trio are set to release their as-yet-untitled seventh studio album in 2010 on Heart & Skull – a joint venture label imprint with Epitaph Records. Expect lyrical themes on death and politics and a musical style more akin to their earlier work with, sadly, some synths and a bit of ska-punk thrown in. If anyone can make it work…
Are you an Alkaline Trio fan? Have you seen one of their incendiary live shows? What was the first song you heard and was it as instantly loveable as everyone is saying? Tell us below.