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The scream and steam life of George Pettit



Alexisonfire frontman takes the screamo game seriously

Who: Alexisonfire

With: Spitalfield and Death From Above

Where : Garfinkel’s

When: Friday, Oct. 3. Doors at 9 p.m.

Tickets : $10

Turn on MuchMusic. You’re bound to hear a "coming up next" announcement for a video from Alexisonfire before too long. The video watching demographic loves the southern Ontario five-piece band, named after a lactating contortionist porn-star, and their devotion has given the band a solid berth in the audience-voted PowerShift Top 30 chart.

Quickly, before the video comes on, hit the mute button. There they are – five high-energy kids in their late-teens/early 20s. The next Not by Choice/Simple Plan-Blink 182 incarnation? Hit the mute button again.

Surprise. Instead of the punk-pop du jour it’s a frenetic, edgy metal-punk mix topped with intense screaming vocals. A blast of aural adrenaline. The kind of music that makes older generations give up on pop culture.

Some call it ‘screamo,’ a hybrid term describing the thoughtful lyrics of the emo-set yelled with abandon. But George Pettit, the 20-year-old, dorky-cool frontman isn’t too concerned with classification specifics.

"I’m pretty comfortable with whatever anyone wants to call us," says Pettit. "I have no problem with genres. If someone wants to call us screamo, they can call us screamo. They can call us ‘emo-core’ they can call us ‘scream-punk’ they can call us ‘punk-core’ they can call us ‘punk-scream-punk-core-scream,’ and ‘yell-punk-core-scream.’ I don’t care. If it makes it easier to describe us to someone else, just call us whatever."

So just how does Pettit himself describe Alexisonfire’s music?

"I just say we’re a yelly-screamy rock band."

Mr. screamy-yelly himself speaks rapid fire, like a hyperactive pixie-stick junkie who’s lost his Ritalin. To compound the situation, he’s currently at West Edmonton Mall: over-stimulation central. Dolphins are flipping through the air as he speaks. Later that night the band will play Mall superclub Red’s, the Chuck E. Cheese of the Edmonton nightclub scene complete with arcade games and its own bowling alley. Pettit is stoked.

"It’s absolutely fantastic. All the money we make tonight can be blown on video games," he enthuses. "West Edmonton Mall is an absolute trip. It’s crazy here. There’s a shooting gallery. I shot firearms earlier today."

With his dark shag and thick black glasses, Pettit could be the fourth Hanson Brother. But looks aside, it could be argued his band is the Canadian music industry’s own version of the iconic Slapshot goons. They’re young, in your face, and are selling out venues with their aggressive style.