Alkaline Trio have always had a love affair with theatrics. "The Temptation of St. Anthony," a centerpiece of the punk act's upcoming ninth album "My Shame Is True," is no exception. The song, premiering here in lyric video form, pulls straight from guitarist Matt Skiba's well-worn chest of themes — love, agony, carrion — and eases them into 2013, where the band finds itself in its most vital place in years.
"I went through some pretty rough patches in my life and I've come out of them a stronger, more inspired and energetic person. I don't personally feel that I've lost my fire," says Skiba, confident he once again found a way to channel "the young, angry, fuck-everything, who-cares kid that had no responsibilities," a fellow that Trio fans grew to know and love on 1998's now-classic "Goddamnit."
Recording at the Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado with drummer/producer Bill Stevenson of the Descendents and Black Flag, "My Shame Is True" heartened Skiba. "I could feel that thing again, and I don't feel it every time we make a record," he says. "The more scientific a record gets, the more it loses that fire within the band for me and that very subliminal chaos. When things get too under-the-microscope, you lose that."
"The Temptation of St. Anthony" -- not the only art reference on the album, with a lead single titled "I Wanna Be a Warhol" — is an exemplary slice of Skiba songwriting. "The first line of the song is always the hardest thing to write," Skiba says of his process. "And then after that, the song should -- unless it sucks -- it should write itself. There's a magic to that urgency and I think it comes across through the song. Those are the kind of songs that I like to play live, people in the crowd like ‘em more."
As is the case with so many Alkaline Trio songs, "St. Anthony" features a monster chorus and almost immediate catchiness throughout. "The feeling that you want the listener to get, you should get yourself when you first hit that chord and that melody comes to mind," Skiba says. "I completely go blank — even if something's on TV I'm seeing through it, I'm not there anymore, and my hand's doing the work. It's an interesting thing, but I'm definitely not going to argue with it or fight it."
"My Shame Is True" will be released April 2 on Epitaph Records. Stay tuned for Billboard's full conversation with both Skiba and bassist/vocalist Dan Andriano.
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