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Good punking
Alkaline Trio stay the course
BY SEAN RICHARDSON

" Thatís it, weíve had enough/Please turn that fucking radio off/Ainít nothing on the airwave, end the despair we feel, " wails Alkaline Trio singer/guitarist Matt Skiba on " Weíve Had Enough, " the first single from the new Good Mourning (Vagrant). With the overall quality of commercial radio at an all-time low, those time-honored words of punk-rock protest have never been more warranted. But according to Skiba, the trackís most important line is the one that follows: " Put Walk Among Us on and turn it up. " Itís a song about finding your own favorites somewhere else ó in this case, on an old Misfits album thatís as relevant today as it was when it first came out.

" I found punk rock at a time when I was really dissatisfied with pretty much everything around me, and that was the one thing I had to hold on to, " Skiba explains over the phone from the bandís native Chicago. " The things that were acceptable in the majorityís eyes were extremely distasteful to me. ĎWeíve Had Enoughí is about what a record like Walk Among Us means to me when I hear something like, you know, that new LL Cool J single on the radio. Itís kind of using corporate radio as a canvas, but itís more of a song about how punk rock affected my life. "

" Weíve Had Enough " also features a boisterous guest appearance by legendary Circle Jerks/Black Flag frontman Keith Morris, who shared a couple of bills with Alkaline Trio last summer. " Circle Jerks played the last week of the Warped Tour, so we got to meet Keith and became friendly with him, " Skiba continues. " We needed someone to do the song, and luckily he was willing to do it. Having him come in and sing for our band was very surreal. It was amazing ó you know, we grew up on Black Flag and Circle Jerks. "

Profanity-laced chorus, anti-establishment rhetoric, punk-renegade cameo ó Alkaline Trio might be one of the biggest pop-punk bands in the country, but like AFI they eschew the cuddly angst of Good Charlotte and New Found Glory in favor of something darker and harder. After making a name for themselves with two albums on the Bay Area punk label Asian Man, the group ó who perform next Thursday at the Palladium in Worcester ó teamed up with Vagrant for the release of From Here to Infirmary, which cracked the Billboard 200 chart two years ago.

Before they headed out on last yearís Warped Tour, Skiba and singer/bassist Dan Andriano replaced drummer Mike Felumlee with Derek Grant, formerly of Detroit ska-punkers the Suicide Machines. Heís their third drummer on as many albums, and Skiba credits him with the expanded array of instrumentation (church bells, organ) on the disc. " Derek is responsible for all those production treats. Itís cool to have him in the band on so many different levels, but primarily for the fact that he has appreciated our music for years. Heís a good outside source to see how things can be better. "

As always, Skiba and Andriano split the singing and songwriting duties roughly in half on Good Mourning. Andriano handles the mushy stuff, including the plucky " Every Thug Needs a Lady " and the swooning pop highlight " Blue Carolina. " Skiba remains obsessed with his own death, usually at the hands of an estranged lover. On " This Could Be Love, " he matches his stormy guitar melodies with a chorus thatís as macabre as it is catchy: " You took me hostage and made your demands/I couldnít meet them so you cut off my fingers/One by one. "

" Making metaphors between life and death and love and hate comes very easily to me, " Skiba allows. " When I was in English class, they introduced me to Edgar Allan Poe at an early age, and it was something I was actually excited to read. Same with a lot of the cinema Iím into ó things like Rosemaryís Baby, a lot of Satanic and horror films. The permanence of murder is very interesting to me. Iíve always been attracted to death and blood and guts, so itís just fun to put things in that context. Itís more interesting to write about my girlfriend killing me than about how stoked I am to play in the grass with her. "

Skiba ends the discís unplugged finale, " Blue in the Face, " with one of his funniest lines ( " What do you say/Your coffin or mine? " ), but itís the heartbreak that lingers. " Itís definitely been one of those years, " he sighs. " But I donít want to come across like a cry-baby, because I know how trivial my problems are, and Iím thankful for that. "

Alkaline Trio perform next Thursday, May 22, at the Palladium in Worcester; call (508) 797-9696.

Issue Date: May 16 - 22, 2003
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