Alexisonfire’s Wade MacNeil has announced an as-of-yet untitled split EP—with Cancer Bats—for his side project Black Lungs, currently being recorded in Burlington, Ontario. When AUX caught up with the singer and guitarist, he promised the album would be full of “fast, bratty punk-rock songs,” jokingly admitting that their practice space needs a special episode of Hoarders based on its current state in preparation for the release.
Though a producer isn’t locked, a new line-up is, and MacNeil says the band now consists of former members of Hostage Life (Patrick Mathers), Bleeders (George Clark) and Keep It Up (Phil Waring).
A clear departure from the band’s 2008 debut, Send Flowers, that had Black Lungs straddling the Alexisonfire sound, the songs they are working on now are straight up punk rock. “When I started the band in 2005, it was a stripped down record, but the more we toured the more it sounded like a punk band,” says MacNeil. In comparison to the grant-funded multi-Juno award winning outfit that is Alexisonfire, MacNeil says that if necessary Black Lungs new EP will be self-released as a return to a more DIY ethic. “We just started to book some really sketchy shows, like a house show in Sudbury, Ontario.” He laughs, “It sounds like a bad teen comedy.”
Despite Black Lungs beginning as a solo project, MacNeil says he did not create the band to rival Dallas Green. “I was not necessarily interested in becoming a front-man. I just wanted to start playing fast-bratty punk songs,” he said. “Dallas and I used to have a tattoo rivalry, but now I’ve got more. We’re polar opposites [musically]. I’m interested in playing basements and house parties.”
MacNeil’s connection to the local hardcore scene of St. Catherine’s, Ontario—which he’s been involved in since he was 14 years old—and his nostalgia for it, is refreshing. “We were in a Misfit’s cover band,” he says laughing, “We had gotten bored with punk and thought hardcore was more intelligent music.” Now MacNeil says Black Lungs new goal is trying to write songs shorter than 30 seconds. “I blame our bass player being a big metal dude. We thought we had written a 23 second long song—which was perfect—but turned out it was 32 seconds.” He sounds momentarily disappointed but is excited about the new album. “We really want to return to the 1977 British punk thing. Cut out the guts and make the songs really brash and really quick. I don’t see there being any love songs on the next record.”
Songs like “Stay out of Parkdale” from the Valley of the Dolls EP have a lot of raw energy similar to bands like DOA, Black Flag, and even oi groups like Strike Anywhere. “Growing up [in Southern Ontario] listening to crass records and attending hardcore shows shaped the way I look at the world more than any teacher I had,” says MacNeil. On his biggest struggles of the band MacNeil says, “Because I write all the music, not changing what I want it to be every five seconds was the most difficult.” The fact that, until this most recent recording, the band members were not permanent was a challenge, “It was great because every time we were on the road it sounds different, but it was incredibly frustrating because I was always teaching new guys songs.”
MacNeil says Black Lungs is planning a North American tour and will be returning to Europe for the second time this May. After touring consecutively for the last three years with Alexisonfire, Black Lungs will remain a side project MacNeil can get behind, “I want to not shy away from opportunity. I just want to do something different. We’ll put out the record on colour vinyl and just play more.”
Photo by Chris Payne/AUX TV