Stepping out of the shadows

Ex-Alexisonfire guitarist/vocalist proves his worth with U.K. punks Gallows

Though he isn’t bringing Alexisonfire’s farewell tour to Winnipeg, Wade MacNeil is bringing the band he now fronts, Gallows. Supplied

Alexisonfire’s farewell tour won’t be hitting Winnipeg in December, but Wade MacNeil hasn’t forgotten about us. 

You can still catch the band’s former guitarist on Friday, Nov. 16 when he takes the mic and performs with the rest of Gallows, the U.K.-based hardcore punk band comprising Laurent Barnard and Steph Carter on guitar, Stu Gili-Ross on bass and Lee Barratt on drums.

“I’m excited for both tours,” MacNeil says. “With each band I just go out there and try to play as hard as I can.”

Gallows formed in 2005 and built up quite the reputation before MacNeil joined.

The band is known for its intense live shows, releasing Orchestra of Wolves through Epitaph in 2006 and Grey Britain through Warner Bros. three years later.

Dropped from the major label in 2009, the band continued on until former front man Frank Carter left last summer, around the same time Canadian post-hardcore group Alexisonfire announced its demise.

Losing a lead vocalist can be a challenge, but Gallows seems to have successfully transitioned into its next phase.

“I think we’ve kind of moved past the stage of me being the new guy at this point,” MacNeil says. “The new songs are going down well and it just feels like second nature now.”

The band’s third LP, Gallows was recorded earlier this year at Broadfield Studios in Watford, a town located a few miles northwest of London, England.

The band previously put out an EP with MacNeil, but this self-titled record is his first full-length. Bridge 9 released it in North America this past September.

“For the other guys, it was cool that they got to record in their hometown with some friends they’ve grown up with,” he says. “For me, it was just the most English experience I’ve ever had.”

MacNeil also says the hardest part of recording was going back and forth between the studio and the stage.

“We just kept on getting all these offers we couldn’t refuse, offers to play with bands like Mastodon, Refused and Rancid. We’d write for a few days, head to mainland Europe and then come back to do it all over again.”

Still, the band finished the record and ended up with 11 tracks in total.

MacNeil’s personal favourite is Outsider Art, a song that should appeal to fans of both bands with its slow build-up and harsh chorus.

“We took the same approach with every song,” he says. “We didn’t really fine-tune anything. We were just like ‘That’s working, this is the song, press record,’ or we just didn’t bother. I think that military way of writing songs worked for us on this record.”

As for 2013, Gallows plans to spend even more time on the road.

“We’re going to head to Australia, Southeast Asia and do a ton of touring. The record hasn’t been out for too long and there’s still a bunch of places we haven’t even played yet.”

Published in Volume 67, Number 11 of The Uniter (November 14, 2012)

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