Is This Thing Cursed? – Alkaline Trio
Formed by ex-Jerkwater and Traitors drummer Matt Skiba (vocals/guitar), former 88 Fingers Louie percussionist Glenn Porter, and Rob Doran (bass/vocals), Alkaline Trio was brought together in 1997 by heartbreak, angst, and the companionship of drinking. The original lineup issued a short EP, For Your Lungs Only, just prior to Doran’s departure in late 1997, and Sundials followed one year later on Johann’s Face Records. Slapstick’s Dan Andriano climbed aboard to handle bass duties, adding a complementary voice and songwriting style to Skiba’s that would soon become the group’s signature dynamic. The three then started making a name for themselves all throughout the Midwest with their emotion-fueled, angst-ridden, dark pop-punk. With this lineup firmly in place — and with Skiba and Porter working as bike messengers to make ends meet — Alkaline Trio made its full-length debut in 1998 with Goddamnit!, an album whose heartbreak tales and anti-cop rants earned a modest following.
Both Maybe I’ll Catch Fire and a self-titled singles collection followed in early 1999. Glenn Porter left the band early the following year and ex-Smoking Popes drummer Mike Felumlee joined in his absence, making Alkaline Trio a three-piece again. From Here to Infirmary arrived on the Vagrant label in spring 2001 and was met with a lukewarm fan response, but a split EP released by Jade Tree one year later found the Trio in top form alongside Hot Water Music, with both bands contributing original tracks and covers of each other’s songs. Good Mourning was released two years later, marking the band’s first album with drummer Derek Grant (ex-Suicide Machines, Thoughts of Ionesco). Good Mourning fared well, grazing the Billboard charts and scoring Alkaline Trio several spots on late-night TV and summer tours. Crimson followed in 2005 and prompted the band to return to the road that summer, both as a headliner and as an opening act for My Chemical Romance.
As their 10 year anniversary approached, Alkaline Trio hit the road in 2006 with a set that emphasized material from their earliest releases, including an entire run-through of the fan-favorite Goddamnit! By that fall, they’d also found a new home at V2 Records and began work on their next album, although label restructuring problems in January 2007 led to the band’s dismissal from the label before any material was released. That same month, Vagrant issued a CD/DVD compilation named Remains, which rounded up B-sides and rarities, and the Trio used their downtime to secure new home with Epic Records. They also worked on a new album, Agony & Irony, which was relesed that summer and debuted at number 13, marking Alkaline Trio’s highest chart placement to date. Despite such success, the band left Epic’s roster one year later and launched their own label, Heart & Skull, which they used for the release of This Addiction in 2010. The following year the band released their eighth album, Damnesia, which featured acoustic renditions of some of the bands most beloved songs, as well as a pair of new tracks. In 2013, Alkaline Trio returned with My Shame is True, featuring production from The Descendants’ Bill Stevenson. ~ Mike DaRonco