City and Colour is less a band and more an outlet for front man Dallas Green to communicate what’s on his mind in a musical language in which he is fluent. Originally started as a side project from his previous band Alexisonfire, four albums later he has released two Canadian chart-topping platinum records and is currently embarking on a country-wide tour with support from Hey Rosetta and Half Moon Run. On a drizzly Monday morning we had a lovely phone chat with Green, who was having to wedge interviews into his rare downtime away from a tour bus watching basketball at home.
The musical evolution of City and Colour is somewhat counter-intuitive. With the release of each new album the music becomes more lush and fulfilling, yet contrastingly the lyrics maintain the same intimate, relatable qualities first established when Green began writing songs as a teenager in his bedroom. The comparatively grandiose nature of his newly released album The Hurry and the Harm supports the lyrics in a very accessible way, by building on the nature of his songs, Green has made his moody melodies more approachable. As the band’s popularity builds, Green says he does his best to maintain the same honest intimacy as a songwriter and performer.
“I don’t think I ever appreciate how honest my music is when I’m singing it. A lot of people ask me, ‘How does it feel throwing your guts out there onstage?’ but I don’t really think of it that way, I’m just up there singing songs. People listen to it and don’t realize I’m singing about my mother or father, they can just sort of take what they need from it. Hopefully the song itself is enjoyable to listen to and it doesn’t just turn into a bunch of people crying. I’m not much of a performer or a showman, I sing and play my guitar the same way whether I’m playing in front of five people or 5,000 people, I just want to sing and play well.”
City and Colour have made a significant impact on the Canadian folk scene during their 12-year residency blaring in the headphones and car stereos of thousands across the country. As they’ve grown, new instrumental and production styles have developed, but the original concept of Green and his guitar has not been far strayed from. In sticking to his roots, Green is helping to bring back a style of music which fosters unlikely human connection and vulnerability in simplicity. Green notes that the musical process and qualities City and Colour have adapted are not the product of intention.
“I just continuously write songs, I haven’t taken my trip to the forest and sat there for a month to write my forest album. I don’t make records that way, I just write songs and wait until I have enough to put together. There’s constant influence from different things in my songwriting but nothing’s intentional. I don’t mean that in a snobby way – that’s just not how I do it. I get home from tour, sit with my guitar, try and get something new going, then go back on tour. If I have enough songs when I’m done, I’ll make a record!”
With a cohesive mix of heartbreak, anger and contemplation, The Hurry and The Harm offers a chance to bring out the brooding mustachioed vagabond in all of us.
City and Colour begin their cross-Canada live tour this May and will be stopping by at the Scotiabank Saddledome (Calgary) on the 21st and Deer Lake Park (Vancouver) on the 23rd.
By Maya-Roisin Slater
Photo: Dustin Rabin