Q&A: George Pettit Awakens in Dead Tired
After Alexisonfire came to an end following a 2012 farewell tour, the band’s growling vocalist George Pettit took a much-needed break from the music industry.
Instead of going city-to-city and stage-to-stage, Pettit devoted more time to his family, went back to school and began to appreciate a much more normal life than one in a well-known band usually allows for.
However, after about two years out of the scene, Pettit began to get the itch again. Art of many forms began to inspire him to create music again, and without any concern for reaching the same heights Alexisonfire did, he started the hardcore collective, Dead Tired.
Pettit says that the band is currently in talks with a label and that an album should be out early next year.
Ahead of Dead Tired’s December 6 appearance at Boston Manor as part of Burly Calling VIII, Riffyou.com spoke with Pettit about his new band, the end of Alexisonfire, his time away, as well as how he’s changed over time.
RY: I read elsewhere that there was a point that you considered not getting back into music after Alexisonfire ended.
George: “Yeah, I spent a lot of time outside of music after that. I’m still a fan of music and I’d still take in a lot of records and enjoy it from that perspective, but I was not involved in the music industry…that was 12 years of my life. There were a lot of points that I didn’t really miss it, or feel the need [to do it]. But, things would happen. Records would come out that I would find really inspirational. Whenever I see a great piece of art, it doesn’t take much to then get me going. I feel like I want to contribute, or do something. That eventually happened and I ended up eating my words about how much I needed music in my life…because I think I do,” laughs.
RY: I guess sometimes a guy just needs a break. I could only imagine how intense Alexisonfire’s schedule was. It must’ve been pretty daunting from an energy standpoint to stay level.
George: “We were living on the road and it was pretty intense. But being in a band, that’s your career and that’s your non-stop goal in life, and a lot of keeping the ball rolling means being on the road a lot of the time. I don’t think that was good for anybody involved. I think we toured way too much on certain records and we could’ve benefitted more had we toured the way we did the last time…you got a month, you do the world, that’s it. Before, we’d spend 10 months slugging it out, playing and playing and playing, until you’re absolutely numb to it.”
RY: Did you get to that point where you became immune to what was going on while on the road with Alexis?
George: “Yeah, definitely. There was a time that my wife was out with us on a Canadian tour and we were watching a movie in the back lounge of this bus and we were on the brink of falling asleep. Someone came and knocked on the door and said, ‘George, 15 minutes.’ And, I went and played. I played an hour-and-a-half set, then got back to the bus, un-paused the movie and watched the rest of it. My wife was really taken aback by how I was able to walk on stage, do what I do, and then just let it go immediately. [Performing] didn’t phase me at all then…there was nothing to it. I didn’t feel much of anything. Now that I have some time away from that, it feels like something again.”
RY: Based on what you just said, I’d assume that you felt okay with the band ending when it did.
George: “There was some panic. Some members of Alexis had their futures planned out, but the rest of us were in limbo trying to figure out what our futures would be. But, it ended when it ended and it ended for good reason. I think that it needed to come to an end. We needed to take a step back and look at it. I probably would’ve kept it going, but mostly because I was institutionalized by it and because I was feeling really passionate about it. But, that’s not good. That’s not good to the fans, or anybody.”
RY: A lot of people viewed Alexisonfire as a very unique Canadian band based on the sound you had and the success you achieved. Did hearing that type of stuff make the band ending that much more difficult to handle?
George: “That didn’t really come into my mind when the band was breaking up. I was grateful and aware of the absolute lunacy that we were where we were, based on where we came from and the type of music we were playing. We shattered every goal we could’ve possibly had as a band. At the same time, I’m just as harshly critical about it. And as much as I think we may have done some good and maybe paved the way for a lot of bands to get mainstream media attention, we also probably paved the way for some garbage too,” laughs. “I’m definitely hit and miss about it. I’m proud of what we did, but I still have this knee-jerk humbleness where I want to sit myself down and say, ‘there’s always someone doing something better and cooler than you are.’”
RY: From the time in which Alexis ended, to the time in which Dead Tired began, did you learn anything new about yourself as an artist or person?
George: “Yeah, I grew up a lot. I went back to school and I got out of the music bubble that I was living in. That was nice. You spend a lot more time with people who are not constantly dissecting and consuming culture…that was great. You could sit around and talk about sports, family, or work, and that was beneficial…it changed me. It was so bizarre when I went back to school, because [I discovered] that everybody listens to country music! Young people are listening to country music! That world was so far beyond anything I’ve encountered.”
RY: Now with Dead Tired, is it important to you to make this band different from Alexis?
George: “If anyone were to compare Dead Tired to Alexisonfire, I would probably judge them as somebody who doesn’t listen to music very well,” laughs. “I’m fairly confident that anyone who listens to Dead Tired is going to instantly hear that it’s a different band. I knew that whatever I did now was not going to sound like Alexis. I feel like Alexis didn’t sound like Alexis at the end of it. We changed with every single record. I have no desire to repeat myself or hash out the same sound over and over again. That’s a bad place to be in. Dead Tired is supposed to be a fun band. We don’t have any lofty ambitions for it. I just wanted to play in a hardcore band.”
RY: You’ve mentioned that there is label interest now. Are you concerned about how that may change the idea of Dead Tired just being a fun project that you’re doing for a laugh?
George: “It’s certainly less of a laugh now than it was in the beginning. But, it’s also hard to avoid that. As much as I want to say that it’s a fun thing that we’re just going to do locally, I do recognize that I used to play in a big band that played enormous shows. I found out very quickly once I announced on Twitter that I had a new band, that there was a lot of interest immediately. It’s going to be more than something casual, but it’s not going to be as intense as Alexis. The second it becomes stressful, we can walk away or take a step back.”
RY: Are you okay with the Alexisonfire name helping promote this band, or would you rather get people in the door based solely on the music?
George: “It’s a battle to try and remove myself from Alexisonfire. I don’t think I’ll ever do that, so I’m not going to try. People are going to [bill shows that way] but I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. Obviously, I’d like people to hold Dead Tired differently, but if Alexis fans are coming out to see us, that’s fine too. I also believe in all-inclusive music. I’m not trying to escape a certain type of fan…this is for everybody.”
RY: When the album comes out next year, do you have any aspirations and/or expectations for it?
George: “I just want to have an LP copy of it. It also then becomes a vehicle for if we want to tour or play shows, so that people know the songs. That’s it, really. If it does well, it does well. I don’t think it’s particularly an accessible type of music that we’re playing, but it’ll attract a niche crowd of people.”