Limewire. How good was Limewire? Ya’ll remember that shit?
Way back when I started playing in bands and leaving (finally, thank Christ) high school, the t-shirt and shoe combination of choice for young, punk/emo guys and gals was Atticus & Macbeth. Black, ideally.
In the early 00’s, Atticus would put out these compilation cd’s of artists they were endorsing. I remember that’s how I got into Rival Schools, but Alkaline Trio, they were something else, man. The Chicago three piece appeared on this compilation. The song was “Jaked On Green Beers” and it kicked my pimply ass. So, as any kid with zero funds would, I immediately went home and illegally downloaded as many of their songs that the internet speed at the time (dial-up) allowed. I remember I’d get pissed if the phone rang, breaking the connection to not just the telephone line but, more importantly, the song I was purloining from the ether. Limewire didn’t allow you to download whole albums, so basically, I just made mix-cd’s of every single Alk3 (as the diehard fans would refer to them) song I could cop.
It took a fair bit of investigation for me to piece together what song belonged on which albums, but I got there and had most of “Maybe I’ll Catch Fire”, the whole “Self Titled” album, some of “Goddamnit” and all of “FHTI”.
Incidentally, that was the first cd’ of theirs I bought legally, second hand, at the store I would end up spending 12 years of my adult life working.
My grandfather was sick around then, and I remember travelling 4 hours to visit either where he lived, or in the hospital in Sydney. He died the day before my first tour, and that was a bummer, but that’s another story. I just remember, vividly, every time I would go see him, i’d have Alk3 punishing my ear drums at obscene levels. He’d ask me what I was listening to, or, between fits of anger, if I was writing lyrics or trying to figure out guitar parts, he’d ask me what I was doing. When I told him it was music related, or that I was trying to finish a song, he’d be stoked because he was rather passionate about music, so he encouraged me a lot. The last time I could’ve seen him alive, I was buying guitar strings and spare cables as we were literally leaving for the tour the next morning. That kind of shit stays with you, so maybe, that’s also why I’m so attached to “From Here To Infirmary”. It’s dark. It’s catchy. It’s full of humour and most importantly, it’s honest.
At the time, Matt Skiba’s voice was unique, in that it was unlike anything else I was listening to, which was Face To Face, Pennywise, Millencolin etc, and to this day he still has my favourite voice in punk-rock. It’s melodically melancholic in a way that you have to hear to understand. I think the reason “From Here To Infirmary” means so much to me is that it appeared at a weird/important time in my life. Maybe it appeared at a time when I needed it most, so that why this album matters to me.
If you haven’t heard it and enjoy bands like The Lawrence Arms & Crusades, I implore you to check it out. It’s of print on vinyl, so you’ll need to either ask me to get you a copy, hit up discogs or do what I did at first: go to Limewire, if it still exists, that is.