This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on August 29th, 2018. I’ve decided to make it free to all users of the website. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.
I figured with the album coming out on Friday this was really the last time I had to try and get some early thoughts down on this album for everyone before you’ll be able to hear it. Hell, there’s always the chance this leaks while I’m typing this up. Then everyone can join in with me.
At a high-level, this album works for me more than any of their albums have since Crimson. I’ve liked the stuff that followed, but it never really captured that same magic as their earlier work. I would find myself listening to them for a few weeks (with the exception of This Addiction, which never really grabbed me), but after that, when I wanted an Alkaline Trio fix, I’d go back to Crimson or something before it. That’s just how it played out for me. I can’t predict with certainty that this is going to be an album I come back to in the future, but there’s something about it that hits me just right and gives me that feeling. There’s an energy here, a feeling of immediacy that they touched on with My Shame is True, but one that feels much more rolled into a “classic” Alkaline Trio-sounding album. This urgency to the songs is really resonating with me at the moment.
I’ve been around really, really famous people – legitimately where you walk down the street and people start screaming and stuff – and that doesn’t look like any fun to me. A lot more people know who I am, but I feel like fame isn’t a real thing. It’s an idea of something. I think you can chase fame and you can inflate it or you can shy away from it. I think it’s a lot easier for men, because they make women sex symbols when somebody becomes really famous. But people are always pretty nice to me and I’m friends with the same people I was before. It’s all about how you treat it. I think the one thing that blink does that Alkaline Trio didn’t is… my parents have always been very supportive, but now that I play in blink, all of my parents’ friends are so jazzed that it makes my folks excited. From the outside looking in, it is a huge new step – it’s definitely a point in my life that will always stand out. It’s been fucking wild. But I haven’t really let fame into my little weird world.
Now, there’s a bit of a rebirth of the band. Again, we don’t really know what’s going to happen — we’re just really excited about these songs. I think there’s a sort of freedom to not making a record in five years and coming back to it and just writing in the studio. There was no talk of a single. There was no “What song are we going to work on to push on the radio?” That’s not something we really focus on ever, but it is something that gets brought up by the producer, or the record label. People want to sell records and that’s 100 percent understandable. But this time, it just didn’t come up. We just made a record.
Well, it looks like Interpunk spilled the beans. Alkaline Trio will release their new album, Is This Thing Cursed?, on August 31st via Epitaph Records. The lead single “Blackbird” is up on streaming services in places like Brazil. My guess is it hits everywhere shortly. I’ll update this post with more information as it comes in but our forums will probably be first to the news if you want up-to-the-minute information.
Oh, and holy fucking shit.
There was a movement going on with the Vagrant America tour and the label signing new bands. “Saves The Day, the Get Up Kids and bands like that. We were all on the same label; we were doing it at the same time, from different parts of the country but exploring different sounds,” he says. “Something cool was definitely happening.”
Crimson is one of my favorite Trio records. It’s the last record we made with Jerry Finn and, for a while, I couldn’t listen to it. There was so much of Jerry Finn in the production. Now, when I listen to Crimson, sometimes I think about Jerry, and I miss him, but for the most part I’m just really grateful that we had the opportunity to work with the most amazing producer for our genre that there’s ever been. I’m really thankful for that album, and I’m really thankful for Jerry’s friendship. He was one of my best friends.
Romantic Rock has announced the second annual “Punk Rock & Paintbrushes Holiday Art Show.” This year will feature artwork from Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio and Blink-182, Chali 2NA of Jurassic 5, Hunter Burgan of AFI, Warren Fitzgerald of The Vandals, Matt Hensley of Flogging Molly, Jennie Cotterill of Bad Cop / Bad Cop, and more. The full press release can be found below.
“But mostly, I’m very happy and grateful to say that Alkaline Trio fans have been very, very supportive even when they do get a little homesick missing the band. It’s still very supportive and it’s not like I’m not Alkaline Trio for some selfish or no good reason.”
Grammy-nominated guitarist and vocalist for Blink-182 and Alkaline Trio, Matt Skiba, joins Neil and Gabby in The Truth Barrel to discuss his career, his relationships, and the life philosophy that has led to his success. It’s not what you’d expect. In this powerful interview, he discusses facing the disappointment of his father when he decided to become a musician, the exact moment he quit drugs and alcohol, the surprising reason he asked a bandmate to leave the group, and what it was like to take over as frontman for one of the biggest bands of its genre. Along the way, you’ll learn Matt’s secret for staying positive, connected, and powerful – and the difference between a nice person and a good person. Hint: A good person isn’t always nice.
It’s a really interesting episode. Recommended.