The Untold Truth Of Alkaline Trio

Alkaline Trio may not be as well-known as Green Day, Blink-182, or even Yellowcard, but no one can deny that the band members are pop-punk veterans through and through. While many of the more famous acts in the genre have had a much lighter feel and sound, the trio has always distinguished themselves with a dark, somewhat gothic image, singing way more songs about getting trashed and enduring the throes of depression than the others

Formed back in 1996, as per All Music, the band has evolved over the years as the musicians have become wiser and more mature with a brighter outlook on life. Yet even after two decades, Alkaline Trio, ultimately, kept to their roots, pleasing the same fans with their music today who rocked out to their early shows years ago at small gigs in Chicago. Nine full albums have been produced by the band on their journey from then until now with all sorts of fascinating behind-the-scenes stories and side quests, some involving Satanism, car accidents, or destroying hotel carpets with paint.

The members have played in many other bands

The current members of Alkaline Trio have been playing together for over 20 years now, releasing several albums. Yet even with their dedication to the band, the members have all been involved in several other projects as career musicians who genuinely love their work.

Singer and guitarist Matt Skiba is a founding member, but he originally played in the bands Traitors and Jerkwater, says All Music. Plus, bassist and singer Dan Andriano previously performed in Slapstick, and drummer Derek Grant was a member of Suicide Machines and Thoughts of Ionesco. Though when Alkaline Trio was at the height of its popularity, the members also started the solo projects Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room and Matt Skiba and the Sekrets.

Much more recently, Skiba became an official member of the hugely successful pop punk band Blink-182 in 2016. Then later in 2019, Andriano joined the rock supergroup The Damned Things, which includes members of Anthrax, Fall Out Boy, and Every Time I Die.

Matt Skiba used to be a drummer

Before the formation of Alkaline Trio, Matt Skiba grew up as a percussionist and played the drums for his former bands, Jerkwater and Traitors. The singer's musical training began when he was a child, and his mom signed him up for piano lessons. It made a huge impact on his music career because the singer continued to use a keyboard synthesizer to write music for both Alkaline Trio and his solo band, the Sekrets.

As a kid, Skiba was hesitant at first since the piano was simply not cool for a rock fan. But now he is a firm believer that the experience made him the musician he is today. In an interview with Music Radar, Skiba says, "I did it for three years and because of piano I learned percussion, I learned scales, I learned how to sing. Piano gives you all of the basics of those things."

Matt Skiba has been hit by five cars in his life

Since Matt Skiba was not always a famous rock star, the singer worked as a bicycle messenger to make ends meet when he was young and living in Chicago. This was a great job for someone who preferred to bike everywhere, even in a city with some of the best public transportation. But it could also be ridiculously dangerous, given the incredible fact that because of the job, Skiba has been hit by cars a total of five times and lived to talk about it.

But it is not like Skiba did whatever he could to avoid risks. In fact, the guitarist did quite the opposite, like a proper punk rocker. In an interview with the A.V. Club, Skiba said that he would get high and ride on the street that should be avoided the most, Lower Wacker Drive. He was able to pull it off but also admits, "It's sketchy as hell."

Once Alkaline Trio was rising in popularity, Skiba moved to California in 2001. On the West Coast, the guitarist became an avid surfer with little fear. In an interview with Surfer, Skiba says the reason was, "I think getting hit by cars prepared me for getting smashed by waves. After being hit by the fourth car, everything became less intimidating."

The band played at the historic Fireside Bowl

Before Alkaline Trio became one of the top pop-punk bands of all time, they began to get recognition after performing at the Fireside Bowl, where the careers of several other famous Chicago punk bands also took off, including Rise Against, the Smoking Popes, and Fall Out Boy.

It was the audience's positive reaction at these shows that gave Matt Skiba the confidence to pursue Alkaline Trio as his full-time job, according to The A.V. Club. Skiba fondly remembers the place and said, "The Fireside was definitely extremely important to the bands I played in and play in. It was a great place where any band could play, and it was run by real punk rock kids" (via "My So-Called Punk," by Matt Diehl).

Skiba did say that it was in a bad area where your stuff might get stolen out of your car and still reminisces that, "I was sad to see it close, but it's almost a miracle it stayed open as long as it did."

The band has mixed feelings about Warped Tour

Even though Alkaline Trio were a major part of the Warped Tour scene for several years, the band members' memories of the punk shows were not always fond for a few reasons. First off, it was difficult to play in the extreme summer heat, but even worse for Dan Andriano was that they had to be away from their families for several weeks at a time. Plus, Matt Skiba was not impressed with many of the other bands' music at Warped. According to Matt Diehl in his book, "My So-Called Punk," when Skiba was asked if there was a kind of music commonly played at the tours, the guitarist answered, "Yeah. S****y."

On the other hand, Skiba greatly appreciated the exposure Warped Tour gave the band. The guitarist also said, "Warped Tour is, like everything else in the world, both good and bad. Warped helped us out a lot, and is great for new bands to get heard. But by the time it's over, you never wanna see another band as long as you live. It's a blast, and I feel lucky to say I've done it, but I never wanna do it again."

Andriano also said (via Rolling Stone), "But some of the best times that we've ever had were on the tour." And the bassist is grateful for the friends they now have with members of other bands, like Bad Religion, Every Time I Die, and Bouncing Souls.

Two major record labels shut down during the release of their sixth album

Before the release of the album "Agony & Irony" in 2008, Alkaline Trio had just signed to V2 Records after leaving the record label Vagrant to become free agents. However, the company unexpectedly ended up restructuring and dropping a lot of their artists in 2007, according to Alternative Press, leaving the band without a label again.

The band then switched over to Epic, but only months after the album debuted, that company also restructured to get rid of their rock division. It was not a pleasant experience, as Dan Andriano said, "It was just a whole mess. It's just like everything you hear about the industry."

Fortunately, Epic still respected their agreement and devoted the necessary resources to promoting "Agony & Irony." But Alkaline Trio was still left without a label, so the band then created their own record company called Heart & Skull, an imprint of Epitaph, and have released their albums through that ever since.

Derek Grant and Matt Skiba have Satanist "leanings"

Alkaline Trio, and Matt Skiba especially, have gotten a lot of heat from Christian radio stations after their announcement that two members of the band were also part of Anton LaVey's Church of Satan for several years (via Spin). Even worse, the band nearly called their fifth album "Church and Destroy" but instead chose "Crimson." In an interview with MTV News, Skiba said, "My attraction to the Church of Satan ... is the same thing that initially attracted me to punk rock. It was something that wasn't very entirely popular, and it was sort of like the adversary to mainstream culture and beliefs."

Yet although it is true that both Derek Grant and Skiba did purchase membership cards to the church years before the release of the album "Crimson" in 2005, Skiba later stated several times that it was all blown out of proportion. The two really just bought each other the cards as Christmas gifts so that they could avoid paying the roughly $300 fee it cost to officially join. Basically, both of them never really took it that seriously.

Instead, the band's attraction to the religion was based purely on the aesthetics involved, giving Alkaline Trio their desired, sinister look. Skiba has been highly critical of all organized religion, so as he has said from the very beginning, it's just "really fun" to him.

Matt Skiba cursed Fyre Festival using witchcraft

Matt Skiba is certainly not a hardcore Satanist, however, he does consider himself a pagan and a self-proclaimed fan of both black and white magic. But even though the guitarist does not take witchcraft and the occult too seriously, he is very open about his deep fascination on the topics. Which has been no more apparent than in his public response to the infamous Fyre Festival.

When asked to comment on Blink-182's near participation at the disastrous event in an interview with Spin, Skiba went so far as to claim that he is a witch and used his power to shut down the Fyre Festival. The guitarist said, "With every inch of my energy I wanted Fyre not to happen. I put all the electricity and energy in my body against that thing happening." Since the festival utterly failed, maybe it worked?

Skiba was mostly joking and said Blink-182 pulled out early because they knew it was going to be a dumpster fire, as per Rolling Stone. He then used the same publicity to give a harsh, yet accurate, critique of both the festival and the conditions in the Bahamas. The guitarist admired the beauty and culture of the place but said, "There's a lot of poverty. It is a largely black population then they build these places like Atlantis and The Cove that are walled off. It's classist and racist and then they decided to park a bunch of yachts with models to show off in front of those poor people."

Alkaline Trio hates Donald Trump and George W. Bush

The band has always been very liberal, going back to when they were a part of Rock Against Bush in 2003. The concert was part of an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the re-election of George W. Bush by encouraging younger people to vote.

But in an interview with Rolling Stone, Matt Skiba did not mince words when describing his even greater dislike of another former president, Donald Trump. That hatred strongly influenced several songs on the album "Is This Thing Cursed?" released after Trump won the election in 2018.

Skiba went into detail over his hatred of Trump by saying, "He was a sexist, rapist ... will always be one. I'm having a hard time saying his name, but his followers, and the state of this nation that I love and that I'm proud to be a citizen of — he's attempting to pull the fabric of its being apart and letting foreign nations have a turn."

Matt Skiba no longer drinks like he used to

Especially in the early years, Alkaline Trio used to give many fans the impression that they were both drug addicts and raging alcoholics, mostly because of their lyrics. But in an interview with The A.V. Club, Dan Andriano admitted that was not true even back in 2005 and said it was kind of sad when the band had to sometimes turn down fans' offers to have a drink or smoke a joint.

On the other hand, Matt Skiba certainly regrets how much he used to drink when he was younger. When asked what advice he would give his younger self, it was to not drink so much. Skiba went into further detail about his past and said, "I would finish a painting, and sometimes I'd just drunkenly do something really stupid and destroy it. But I was doing that all around — I was messing up shows, I was making a spectacle of myself and it was not cute anymore. It became shameful," as per Kerrang. So, now he rarely ever drinks and is much happier.

Dan Andriano struggles with depression

Around 2015, Dan Andriano was officially diagnosed with having depression, which is also not surprising given the lyrics to many of his songs. Up until then, the bassist had not only always assumed that he had it but also that everyone else close to him knew he suffered from depression, as well. But one of the main methods Andriano has always used to get through difficult periods is expressing his feelings through his music to great effect.

In fact, Andriano's experience with depression was the inspiration for the title of Alkaline Trio's ninth album, "Is This Thing Cursed?" When asked by Rolling Stone about his depression, Andriano said, "Being stuck in those moments, looking around and feeling like it doesn't matter what you do or where you're at, things don't seem to be going right. And a lot of the times, we look for things to blame and we look for other things instead of looking inward."

Divorce was a major influence in writing the album "This Addiction"

Before Alkaline Trio began working on their seventh album, Matt Skiba was having major issues in his marriage. The guitarist claims that he was being bled dry both emotionally and financially leading up to his divorce. This painful experience drove him to write much of the lyrics for the songs on "This Addiction" in 2010. For the title, he likened trying to kick a heroin addiction to breaking up with someone you used to love, as per Spin.

In an interview with Kerrang, Skiba went on to further explain, "I've heard the word ​'divorce' all throughout my life and as I was growing up, but until it happens to you, until you go through it, that word looks, sounds and means something completely different. Breakups are a mother*****. People kill themselves over them and there's a reason why it can be really painful, but the good news is we have songs to write about that!"

Matt Skiba has recovered from having surgery for his voice

Even though Alkaline Trio is blessed to technically have two lead singers with distinct voices, the band would not be the same if all the songs were only sung by Dan Andriano, or just Matt Skiba. So, it has no doubt been stressful for both the singer and everyone else involved that he has had to get surgery for his voice not just once, but twice.

While recording the album "Good Mourning" released back in 2003, Skiba had major issues with his voice for the first time, so he had surgery to relieve his acid reflux. The singer recovered from the procedure shortly after, but in early 2018, the singer had to undergo throat surgery again. It took longer than expected for him to heal, forcing the band to miss a show at the Self Help Festival in San Bernardino, but by the summer he had fully recovered, says All Music.

Matt Skiba is a prolific painter

Although much better known as a musician than an artist, Matt Skiba did go to design school for a year until the industry was becoming too digital for his liking. But even though he dropped out, Skiba has continued to paint ever since and over the last several years, he has exhibited his work more frequently.

The guitarist does not paint while on tour with Alkaline Trio because it has been way too messy and difficult to pull off. And it is not like he didn't try, but hotel bills for ruining carpet with paint convinced him to stop. Instead, Skiba has a room devoted to painting at home. Kerrang notes the pentagram on the floor of his art room, where Skiba honors important women in his life — the pentagram has the initials of his grandmother, sisters, mother, and one of his best friends, the actress Asia Argento.

Skiba is not the only punk rocker with another artistic side, for he has participated in an traveling group called "Punk Rock And Paintbrushes," with art by Matt Hensley of Flogging Molly​, Hunter Burgan from AFI​, and Warren Fitzgerald of The Vandals, along with Jesse Hughes from Eagles Of Death Metal.