What: City and Colour with Jacob Banks and Ben Rogers
Where: Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, 1925 Blanshard St.
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $51-$81 from Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre box office (250-220-2600) or selectyourtickets.com
Dallas Green doesn’t feel compelled to write songs when everything is in order. That would undermine the role songwriting plays in his life, according to Green.
“I don’t write when I’m in a happy, happy place. I write when I’m in a bit of a restless place. That’s how I get myself out of it.”
A Pill For Loneliness, the singer-guitarist’s new album under his City and Colour moniker, was written about “this era of fear” currently plaguing the world. Green saw bringing to life songs such as Living in Lightning, Difficult Love, Mountain of Madness, Song of Unrest and The War Years as a form of therapy.
“I think that’s when I started to realize I should paint beautiful landscapes, soundwise, that I can sing these dark images over,” the Toronto performer said. “At first, I was going to make this really quiet, sombre record that matched the tone of what I was singing about. But early on, it became apparent that it was not necessarily going to be the funnest process.”
Green, 39, said he wasn’t planning on making a new record until he found himself in Nashville, and the studio team of Jacquire King and Karl Bareham convinced him to.
After hearing some material he was working on, the two producers — with whom he has worked in the past — kept at him until he relented. “I have always done a 10-day, 12-day approach where that’s it. Them convincing me and me putting my trust in them was cool. Over a year, we did sessions whenever we were all available, and sat and worked on the tunes. It was a real labour-of-love record, which I always wanted to make, but didn’t think I had the freedom or time to do so.”
The four-year break between 2015’s If I Should Go Before You and A Pill For Loneliness represented the longest stretch between records for either City and Colour or his other band, the hardcore punk act Alexisonfire.
But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t active: Green toured If I Should Go Before You for two full years before taking a break from both the road and the studio in 2017.
“I was not giving myself a serious deadline this time. I wanted to give myself the freedom to do what came naturally, as opposed to jumping right back in the studio so I could go back on tour.”
Green’s concert with City and Colour in Victoria on Friday kicks off his first full-blown tour since the break, and he’s looking forward to playing songs from the album, which arrived Oct. 4, with a newly minted lineup.
He completed a brief sold-out tour of the U.S. in October, which gave him time to work new members Anna Ruddick (bass) and Leon Power (drums) into a lineup that also includes guitarist Dante Schwebel and multi-instrumentalist Matt Kelly. The recent shows were a series of back-to-back concerts in major centres, which meant Green could fly into each market, avoiding long stretches of driving between distant cities.
Not that he was trying to avoid the roads of North America, which were his home for the better part of a decade. “I haven’t been on a tour bus for two years, which is crazy for me,” Green said. “I’m looking forward to it. There was a long period of my life where not touring for that long wasn’t even in the cards.”
Green has spent more time than most artists his age in vehicles, shuttling to and from concerts with his pair of successful musical projects. That came to a halt when Green found himself away from both City and Colour and Alexisonfire for the longest stretch of his 17-year professional career. The respite gave him time to look back on his two careers, and he marvelled at how much has changed.
His solo material — notable, at first, simply because it was from a member of the hugely popular Alexisonfire — came out in the Napster era, nearly 20 years ago, after Green started selling copies of his demo recordings at coffee shops in his native St. Catharines, Ont. The material eventually found a home on Sometimes, his City and Colour debut, which celebrates its 15th anniversary next year.
“I feel very grateful to still be doing it,” Green said. “And doing it the way I want to do it.”