Dallas Green, who performs solo under the moniker City And Colour, says he only has one reason for making music: “I just want to write a better song.”
Green, perhaps best known outside of his native Canada as a singer and guitarist in post-hardcore/screamo band Alexisonfire, has been writing music since he was 16.
“But I don’t necessarily write one type of song,” Green tells Billboard.com. “And I had all these acoustic songs I’d written that were never used for anything. I didn’t know what to do with them.”
A few years back, Green finally decided to record some of those songs “just for myself, just to have them on tape. That was the original idea.” But with the encouragement of manager Joel Carriere (who also runs Dine Alone Records, the label City And Colour calls home), Green ended up cutting an EP from those solo studio recordings. “And then it snowballed,” Green says.
A debut full-length called “Sometimes” appeared in 2005, which led to a People’s Choice Favorite Canadian Artist award at the 2006 MuchMusic Video Awards and, eventually, a 2007 JUNO award for alternative album of the year.
Despite the acclaim, Green says a certain group of Alexisonfire fans rejected his gentle, country- and folk-inflected solo material. “There were those people who thought the whole project was contrived, that it was put together because it would sell more records and be more appealing to a wider audience than Alexis,” Green explains. “But I can’t help what kind of songs come out of me.
“Anyway,” he adds, “I don’t expect everyone to like everything I do. All I can hope for is that somebody gets it.”
And clearly, the detractors are in the minority. The new City And Colour album, “Bring Me Your Love,” which hit streets Feb. 11, debuted March 1 in the No. 11 spot on Top Heatseekers, earning Green his first solo chart ink.
Written in less than a year and a half — mostly while on tour with Alexis — “Bring Me” is a “snapshot of where I was at one particular time,” according to Green. “That’s really what separates it from the first album. ‘Sometimes’ was written over a span of 10 years, with no plan behind it. I had a vision this time.”
With musings on everything from his own insomnia to death, Carriere says what unifies “Bring Me” is the quality of the songwriting. “It’s a little bit country, it’s a little bit folk, it’s a little bit rock –- it’s a fusion. But if there’s one thing Canadians do well, it’s write a good song.”
With the album done, Green now turns his attention to getting the “Bring Me” material onto the stage. He appeared at the South By Southwest music festival this week and then plays his first U.S. club shows as a solo artist with bicoastal performances at the Knitting Factory. In April, it’s on to Europe, while May has him criss-crossing Canada.
From there, Green says he’ll play it by ear. “I don’t really decide when it’s time to make an Alexis song and when it’s time to make a City And Colour song. I just never stop playing guitar. I’m always working on writing a better song.”