Alkaline Trio to Preview Songs From Its Forthcoming Album at the Agora

Alkaline Trio, a veteran post-punk band whose roots date back more than 20 years, came through Cleveland in 2015 for the Past Live tour for which it played eight albums over the course of four nights. The ambitious tour found the band playing two albums in their entirety each night; the live recordings of the concert series have recently been released to Spotify.

The idea was brought to them by management. Singer-bassist Dan Adriano says he and his bandmates were intimidated by the concept at first.

“When the idea was presented to us we thought, 'That sounds like a lot of work and a lot of lyrics to remember and a lot of songs to learn,'” Andriano says of the 96 songs included on the tour. Alkaline Trio returns to town to perform at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 9, at the Agora Theatre. “At first it was a little daunting and we only did Los Angeles, Chicago and Brooklyn. While we were in Brooklyn playing the last few shows, we talked about doing a bunch more cities. We did eight more, and that’s when we threw Cleveland in.”

The band came to the Grog Shop for all eight of the shows because it wanted a “cool, intimate” vibe for the tour.

As much as the band enjoyed revisiting its past, Andriano says the forthcoming album, Is This Thing Cursed, takes things up another notch.

"I really think it’s our best, and I know that’s what everyone says, but I’m really excited about it and I really think everyone’s gonna really, really enjoy it," he says. "It’s super fun, it’s weird. It sounds like Alkaline Trio. The lyrics are great.”

The energy of the band and the chemistry they shared during the creative process make this project so close to Andriano’s heart. The writing and recording was more of a group effort than anything the band has ever done.

The band recorded the disc in April, and the guys kept it a secret until they knew that they liked what they were creating and felt confident about sharing it with the world.

It's set to come out Aug. 31. “Blackbird,” the Smiths-like melodic first single that features an undulating guitar riff and soft vocals, is out now.

“We wrote most of the album in the studio, but we wrote [‘Blackbird’] a little differently," Andriano says. "I had written the music for it, and I sent it to Matt [Skiba], and he wrote the lyrics and melody. Normally, Matt and I will write the skeleton of the song and then we will finish it when we get together, but on this record there are actually a few songs that came about very differently. We decided pretty quickly that we were gonna do this, and we were there within weeks working on it. We maintained that spirit through the course of it. We wrote quickly, we wrote in the studio together and we didn’t try to beat any dead horses. We just wrote and got excited about something and once we were excited, we moved on.”

When asked about how covering such heavy topics affects the mood in the studio, Adriano shrugged it off as a necessary evil.

“[Matt and I] both are pretty sensitive people. We both take things pretty hard. When we’re writing, it’s a way to get it off of our chest. A lot of people have asked why in some songs the music is so fun, and the lyrics are such a downer. We don’t want to always be morose. We’re fun people,” Adriano says, “These things that I’m writing about, I don’t want to be sad about those things forever.”

It’s not all darkness all the time, however. Songs like 2013’s “Kiss You To Death” show the softer side of the trio and let them display love instead of pain for a moment.

“We write pretty heart-on-your-sleeve kind of shit. We base a lot of things in metaphor. Sometimes, people might think we are writing about a girl when we are really just writing about a friend and vice versa. If we’re writing something we are going to be all in either way. If we’re writing a sad song, that might be a total drag, but if we’re writing a love song, that’s what we’re feeling and that’s what we’re trying to convey. So I would hope there’d be a different sentiment,” says Andriano. “The catalyst for the song has to be real. If I’m feeling something, I like to get it down. I need to always be working on something. Even if I’m not gonna use it, I want to finish it and make it a song. If I don’t pick up the guitar and mess around for a few minutes a day, I feel different.”

The 13-track album came together over the course of two months. On the new record, Adriano says the band sought to stay true to itself.

“If the three of us make an album, it’s gonna be an Alkaline Trio album,” he says. “I don’t think Matt and I are capable of writing the Beatles’ White Album or [Kendrick Lamar’s] To Pimp a Butterfly. It’s gonna sound like us.”

The first new record in five years is also bringing the first tour that we’ve seen from the band in a while.

“We haven’t toured or put out a record in a long time. So I’m hoping to see some new faces in the crowd and say hello to our long-time fans. I just miss [the band],” says Andriano. “We live spread out around the country, with our families or wherever we want to be.” “That makes the chance to get together that much more special.”

Andriano credits the fans as well.

“We’re really lucky to be able to say that we have a lot of fans that have been coming to see our shows for a long time and that means everything to us. That’s the main reason why we still do it [after 20 years]," he says. “The fact that we’ve been able to see a lot of these people grow up with us, that are still coming and now they’re bringing their kids…that’s insane to me and beautiful. But I still see younger faces that are coming out, and that means the world to us because we want to keep doing it as long as we can. I know a lot of people thought we were done, but I don’t think we’re ever going to be done.”

Alkaline Trio, together PANGEA, Ogikubo Station, 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9, Agora Theatre, 5000 Euclid Ave., 216-881-2221. Tickets: $27-51.50 ADV, $31-$51.50 DOS,
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