City and Colour has a band’s name but has always been the province of Dallas Green. Until now.
The Canadian singer-songwriter, a recent transplant to Nashville, made his fifth City and Colour album — If I Should Go Before You, whose title track is premiered exclusively below — with the musicians who accompanied him on the last stages of the tour for 2013’s The Hurry and the Harm. It’s an august ensemble that includes bassist Jack Lawrence from the Greenhornes, Raconteurs and Dead Weather, Spanish Gold and Dan Auerbach cohort Dante Schwebel on guitar, the Contstantines‘ Doug McGregor on drums and multi-instrumentalist Matt Kelly. And the impact on the new album was enormous.
“This is sort of what I’ve been looking for the last five, six years, since I really kind of started to focus on City and Colour,” the former Alexisonfire member tells Billboard. “My goal is to always have, for lack of a better term, a shit-hot band, and it was hard to find that at first because I was juggling with the other band, Alexisonfire, a lot. This time I found guys who are not only great players but became great friends, and now it feels like a band to me, and I honestly believe that I wrote all of these songs because of the band.”
Listen to “If I Should Go Before You” below.
In fact, the current City and Colour lineup even helped Green through what he feared would be a period of writer’s block after his collaboration with P!nk as You+Me in 2014. “After I had done that record, which was in the middle of touring for The Hurry and the Harm, I kind of thought I had dried up the well for what I had to offer at the moment,” Green explains. “I’m not much of a bulk writer, and I didn’t think I’d be able to churn out a bunch of ideas soon. But knowing I wanted to make the record with my band this time, and I was itching to make sure we could go on tour as soon as possible, I just started writing and it really just started flowing.”
Green’s feeling about the album is reflected in the title track, “a love song with a little bit of a morbid feel to it” but also with a dual meaning that relates to the music itself. “You never know what this business is going to be like,” Green says. “I never know when it’s going to end. You can’t take anything for granted. So the title is a way of saying, ‘If this is my last record for some reason, if I should go before you, here’s a record I’m proud of to leave you with.'”
Such fatalistic notions aside, however, Green does feel confident that City and Colour has demonstrated staying power for the foreseeable future. “I feel like I do have some loyalty and people who have been with me this whole time, and I’m grateful for that,” he says. “The best part for me is that it seems like everyone is willing to evolve with me. Obviously there’s people who don’t want me to play with a band and still want me to be by myself with an acoustic guitar like my first record. But most people who are into it seem to be OK with the rock n’roll songs as well as the quiet, introspective stuff.”
City and Colour hits the road to promote If I Should Go Before You, starting Nov. 5 in Detroit and with Europe and other territories slated for 2016. And more music from You+Me to follow last year’s Rose Ave. will come when — and if — the time is right. “We talk about it every once in awhile,” Green says. “Alecia is really in full-on just being a mom mode and trying to live her life now because she spent the last 15 years just going and going and going, living in that crazy world. So I think because of how spontaneous the first record came out, we would be doing a disservice if we tried to plan to do anything else. If the time is right and the ideas are there, we’ll do another one. As of right now I’m just really happy we were able to do this one.”