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Alexisonfire, ink 

The beloved Canadian screamo outfit plays a hotly anticipated show this weekend. Jodie Barnaby knows how you can get in for free.

Tattoos are serious business. They hurt. They're expensive. And they're on you forever. So what if certain tattoos came along with some pretty sweet perks? Alexisonfire is a band which is offering their fans just that—all they have to do is get themselves inked.

The band has offered free admittance to their shows for life to fans who have Alexisonfire-themed tattoos. All fans have to do is email a photo of their tattoo to the band a few weeks before a show in their town and they will be granted a free ticket. Although the idea sounds pretty wild and innovative, Alexisonfire, surprisingly, isn't the first band to do it—Rocket from the Crypt and AFI have been offering their own fans the same deal for years.

Liz Yorke is one fan who could take advantage of this offer when AOF stops here in Halifax on July 20. She got her Alexisonfire ink years before the offer was made. She has a large chest tattoo—a sacred heart and two sparrows holding a banner that reads ".44 caliber love letter," which fans will recognize as a song title from AOF's 2002 self-titled album.

Yorke got her ink done shortly after moving to Halifax in 2003. She says she was sexually assaulted and contemplated taking her own life. Like a lot of people in tough situations, Yorke turned to her favourite bands to help her along, one of which was Alexisonfire.

When the band rolled into town a few days later, Yorke was there to show her appreciation. After emptying her wallet on a bunch of the band's merchandise, Yorke went to talk to the band members about what she had been going through. "They spent a good deal of the night with me, gave me my money back for the show and the merch I had purchased and just really seemed to care about my well-being. At that time, in the state that I was in, it meant a lot to me," she says.

"It was amazing that a girl like this, who had just gone through this monumental event, spent the last of her money on a t-shirt 'cause she wanted to wear the merchandise and she was so excited and happy," says Alexisonfire guitarist Dallas Green, who remembers Yorke immediately when she's brought up during our interview. "She told us that listening to our music brought her away from that. And that is the most amazing feeling in the world."

Yorke says that the band's response to her that evening had a huge effect on her and she decided to get the chest tattoo to commemorate them. "They, as people and musicians, helped me through one of the worst parts of my life," she says. "I just thought they deserved to permanently mark my body because I probably wouldn't be here without them."

This offer was nothing the band planned for, it just kind of happened. "Kids just started showing up to shows with the band logo or our lyrics tattooed on them. It was pretty unbelievable," says Green.

Now, however, Alexisonfire has started to become a little selective about who they grant comps to because so many fans are heading to the tattoo parlours. Green says one tattoo they do favour is the Alexisonfire logo, which is a heart-shaped skull, because both he and fellow guitarist Wade MacNeil have one.

Green says he can relate to people who get a band's logo or lyrics tattooed on themselves. He has quite a few himself, including the lyrics "Keep it together" from one of his favourite bands, Elliott, wrapping around his wrist. He also has tattoos paying tribute to Jeff Buckley, Bruce Springsteen and Hot Water Music. So, when fans started showing up to shows with Alexisonfire lyrics inked on their bodies, the band figured a free entry was the least they could do to show their gratitude.

"We think that if someone goes to the extent of getting a tattoo like that," says Green, reflectively, "then they are kind of like family to us."

Alexisonfire w/Cancer Bats, July 20 at the Civic Centre, Halifax Forum, Windsor at Almon, 8pm, $28.50,


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