Usually, every smidgen of indie-rock success is hard-won through gigs in grimy basements, cross-country van tours on scrimped-together budgets, and electronic fliers posted on the walls of disinterested Facebook friends. Usually, but not always.
City and Colour emerged as effortlessly as Athena leaped fully formed from Zeus' forehead in Greek mythology: It's the successful solo acoustic side project launched by Dallas Green, a guitarist/vocalist in the fairly egalitarian five-man Ontario hardcore band Alexisonfire.
Green co-founded Alexis in 2001, and during the band's shows started selling cassettes of basement demos he'd recorded in his late teens. Fans uploaded the music to file-sharing servers, and the response was positive enough for Green to re-record some of the songs into an album called Sometimes.
"That's how City and Colour was built: People hearing songs I thought they'd never, ever hear," Green says.
The disc of heart-on-the-sleeve sentimental acoustic tunes won a Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy) for Alternative Album of the Year in 2007; Green followed it up with a smattering of Internet-exclusive offerings and two well-received LPs. The success of City and Colour began to exceed that of Alexis, whose fourth album debuted at No. 81 on the U.S. Billboard charts in 2009. The following year, City and Colour's Little Hell entered at 28.
"City and Colour had just grown into this thing I never thought it would ... almost with me trying to not let it do that," Green says. "I rarely toured. I didn't really focus on it. I played some shows here and there between Alexisonfire tours, and still it was kinda growing and growing."
So a year ago, with his "heart shifting to one side," Green told his bandmates he was leaving Alexisonfire. They announced their breakup in August, after their final tour.
Now solely focused on City and Colour, Green wants to correct a perception caused by the duality of his career up until now. "[P]eople have been sorta trying to categorize me into these two separate sections," he says. "There is this quiet, dulcet version of me who writes these acoustic songs, and there is this loud, aggressive, angry side of me who plays in this hardcore band. I really don't think that's the case." He's attempted to integrate his tastes on Little Hell, which features a full band more often than his previous albums did. It also sports a few guitar solos and "loud, big vocal parts."
Another misconception, says Green: "I think a lot of people get the impression I am a sad person because of the music I make. I'm not. I'm quite happy and jovial and I like to think I am very funny."
CITY AND COLOUR with HACIENDA. 8 p.m. Sun., Dec. 11. Mr. Small's Theatre, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. Sold out. All ages. Mrsmalls.com.