“With the wives, out go the groupies,” says Alexisonfire’s lead screamer George Pettit, just days before the band released its fourth album Young Cardinals/Old Crows.

While the Hamilton-based vocalist sounds like he might be reassuring his wife that he’ll be a good boy on the road, he’s also expressing just how much the band has grown up in the eight years since it stormed MuchMusic’s airwaves.

When the group first began touring in 2002 the band members were known as much for their hard partying ways as they were for their aggressive, hardcore-meets-emo sound. But now, close to a decade later, the band is older and wiser.

“We were kids when we wrote that first record,” says Pettit. “Over time everything changes. We have this wealth of travel behind us, we’ve spent years on the road living in a van, we have wives, houses and more adult responsibilities.”

All that translates into less debauchery on the road, and that’s fine with Pettit. “Those things are fun in their own right, but if you’re into music strictly to screw groupies and get drunk, that’s a very superficial reason to be involved.

“What keeps us here is not the wild lifestyle,” he adds. “It’s more about the spiritual journey that is loving music and trying to have that never-ending thirst for new records.”

Moving from fast living rockers to property tax paying husbands, can turn a once exciting act into a safer, watered down version of itself (see Gavin Rossdale, David Usher), but if anything, the opposite has happened with Alexisonfire.

The band’s music is somewhat tamer than it used to be — Pettit’s throaty yells have given way to almost scratchy singing — but the music is more complex, and Dallas’ smooth vocals are cleaner and catchier than ever before. It’s easily the group’s best album yet, and while some might miss the frantic, youthful energy, the more focused, thoughtful Alexis has created something that, finally, transcends the screamo tag.

“Screaming paints yourself into a corner,” says Pettit. “I’d been trying new stuff in the jam space and when it came time to recording demos I just tried to see how many songs I could do with this type of vocals. It felt really good.”

To get to where they wanted to be musically, the band had to make changes to more than just its sound. In the past members would rush through recording sessions, but this time they spent eight months writing. Pettit says the longer timeframe meant less mistakes and stronger songs.

“When I look back on our older records, if we thought about those songs for longer they would have turned out very differently,” he explains. “With this, there’s not a lot that really irks me. Or, maybe in a couple months from now I’ll hear something and say maybe I shouldn’t have done that. But right now this is great.”

Warped Tour
• Toronto: Alexisonfire plays Arrow Hall on July 10 as part of the Vans Warped Tour.