PropertyOfZack Interview : : Anti-Flag

by Zack Zarrillo - Jun 12, 2012

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Anti-Flag played the second day of The Bamboozle Festival this past May, and PropertyOfZack had a chance to catch up with Chris #2 before their set. Chris #2 and I discussed the band’s recent touring endeavors, the possibility of the band parting ways before their last album, going back to what they do best, ideals, and the future. Read up on the great interview below!

So you guys just got back from a European tour with Hostage Calm. Can you talk about that? That’s the first of a run of tours for the new album.
Yeah. We started the year; we did southeast Asia. That was kind of the beginning of us getting ready to release the record. Then the record came out in March. It’s called The General Strike. I mean, we’ve been a band for a long time and when you’ve been a band for a long time, you kind of do two things. I don’t mean to sound negative right off the bat but you either do what you’re supposed to do or you say, “Okay. How do we sustain being a band for this long and still actually enjoy it? Not just put out records and tour.” So that conversation was had probably a year and a half ago amongst ourselves. We decided: “Let’s just go play the places we enjoy. Let’s go play with bands that we really like and let’s do some things that will keep it exciting and new to us.” 

Were there thoughts of stopping the band? It is hard to keep things fresh.
I mean, no one has asked me that, as upfront as that. But yeah. We’ve always said that as long as it’s something that we love and enjoy, we’d keep it going. It got to the point, especially when we left the major label. We went from Bright Lights of America right into People of the Gun because we were so happy to be able to put out records with our friends again. But it was like a year apart. We never stopped touring. We were just putting out records because we got this cycle in our head of what we were “supposed” to do. I think we’re in a fortunate position where we can go out and tour and play songs from Die for the Government and The Terror State and For Blood and Empire and people will come to those shows. Is there a need for us to make a new record? You know? So after coming back and saying, “We still want to do this. How do we do it right?” We went to China for the first time, we’re going to go to South America later this year; Costa Rica for the first time; doing the clubs we played in Germany, in a place that has historically supported Anti-Flag more than anywhere else in the world. We went into 400 cap rooms with our great friends Hostage Calm and just blew them out. That’s the kind of shit I want to be doing, you know?

So you guys are happy with the decision to keep going?
Yeah. As of today. We only have 30 minutes tonight so there’s a chance that we’ll get to tomorrow. 

With bands that have been around a while, the original fans don’t necessarily want a new album. How has the reception been?
The reception has been very good. I don’t know if anyone is buying it or if everyone is just listening to a Youtube rip or what’s happening. But, again, I found myself getting concerned with that stuff the last few years and I just had to remove myself from it. I never expected to leave Pittsburgh or leave my mom’s garage playing music. Whenever you start worrying about Soundscan and worrying about…
POZ: Facebook likes.
Chris #2: Yeah. It’s like, what am I doing? This is not why I play music. We’re going to play a show while My Chemical Romance is playing songs. It’s not going to be earth shattering. But I know that there’s going to be a few hundred kids in front of this stage that A) are there because they love punk rock, B) they’re there because they believe in equality and ending racism and sexism and homophobia. That to me, is bigger than a band or a record or a t-shirt or a record sale or a like on Facebook. I’ve just been trying to shake some of the things that have been in the back of my mind for a little bit here and really focus on the things that are genuinely important. 

So did that decision a year and a half ago shape the writing and recording process too? A different mentality when you decided to go for it?
Yeah. Absolutely. I think it was us just saying what records were the reason that we started playing music and listening to those. I also know there was a conscious decision to be more efficient in our song writing. When you’re in a band and people like your band, you think that you can’t do things wrong. You can do things wrong. So it’s like, “Let’s go back to writing songs that we like.” That’s one of the things too. I hate to sound like a broken record in this interview, but people’s comments and the things they are saying about you… you become cognizant of them. When someone expects you to re-invent the wheel on every record, then you start to believe that you have to do that. After we had this conversation, I was like, “Nobody sounds like Anti-Flag. Why don’t we just be fucking Anti-Flag. Why do we, on every record, have to do something that re-shapes or re-defines our career or our lives as a band? That doesn’t make any sense. Let’s just do what we know how to do.” That’s why you find that the songs really do sound like Anti-Flag. It’s probably a true statement that if you didn’t like the band before this record, you’re probably not going to be converted. But I’m okay with that. The goal isn’t to write songs that everyone in the world likes. I can’t do that. I wish I could write the song to make the whole world sing, but I can’t. I know I can write songs that I like and can perform in a way that I believe in them. I think that that belief and that confidence in those songs is going to rub off on other people. I’ve heard the whole world sing along to some shitty songs. 

This kicks off a busy touring schedule for you guys: Australia and then Warped Tour. Are you excited to do world touring? That’s got to be half the fun if it’s anywhere near successful.
That’s the thing. We’ve been doing it in such a way that broke it up and almost made it choppy and unable to get into a rhythm. This year we just kind of cleaned the slate and said, “Okay. The record comes out now. We’re going to go to Europe, Australia, Warped Tour, back to Europe for festivals, we’re going to do Fest this year, South America like I said, Costa Rica…” Then at the end of the year we can rub our eyes and see where we’re at; take a look around and reassess all of it. We just want to be like, “We believe in this album. Let’s prove it.” 

So everyone seems way more excited for Warped Tour this year.
Right!

So being the band you are with the beliefs you have, it seems like the lineup makes more sense. Is that also something you are looking forward to?
Yeah. At this point I feel like we’re in that little bit of unfair advantage bro-down with the people that run Warped Tour. And it’s only because we’ve done it so many times. So we’ve been through the meat grinder of the last couple of years where we felt like the odd man out on a tour that we were then on for our eighth time or something. It’s going to be nice to feel included in what’s happening and what’s important to the tour. I know that when Kevin approached us this year, he was like, “We want you on it. We want to build it this way.” There are bands that I’m very excited about with the future of our community. When you talk about someone like Koji being on the tour or Hostage Calm, Title Fight, and even The Wonder Years. These are bands that came out of our scene. I don’t know how many of those guys have come up to me like, “I saw you at the Troc in Philly in 1999 and you’re band’s great!” That to me, is like…
POZ: It’s full circle now.
Chris #2 :Yeah. For a bit, there was a knee jerk reaction to the social conscience that bands like Anti-Flag and Rise Against and even NOFX for a bit, like in that 2004-2006, there was a really heightened social conscience in the punk rock scene. I think that turned into the knee jerk reaction of bands of the opposite genre and making offensive t-shirts to make offensive t-shirts so that they could be the antithesis of what NOFX was doing. It’s nice to see it come even more full circle where there are bands that have a social conscience that are working on the other level. Koji’s doing the Fire Hall thing and that’s where I was born. I am much inspired by it. As maybe he was by us. 

So the plan is just to tour and to…
See where we’re are at the end of the year. I think in December, January, we’ll start to reflect on some stuff. But right now the plan is just to go and play our songs and hopefully play them well. 

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