Music Interview: No one’s against Against Me!

By Logan Niehaus

We’re all aware punk isn’t what it used to be. Our noses are rubbed in it every single day with the likes of Good Charlotte and Simple Plan mucking up the airways. Loud, political, poetic and refreshingly original are just a few descriptions of what these albums, made for bed wetting teenagers, are not. However, there is one band who continues to embody what they have grown up to know as punk rock.

In 1997­­­, Gainesville, Florida teen Tom Gabel started what would eventually become Against Me!, a punk band owing more to the Clash and the Pogues than the Offspring.

“There have been a lot of changes,” recounts bass player Andrew Seward. “It started with Tom, then he picked someone up, then it went back to just him then another person and then it was four. It’s been this line up for about three years now.”

It’s been about as long since they released their powerful debut album Reinventing Axl Rose.

“I’ve always been in a band, and a few years back the band I was in played a show with Against Me! Later on I left a drunk message for Tom saying ‘Kick out your bass player and I’ll join!’”

From these innocent beginnings a small band with a love for music and the message they could spread exploded out the gate. Album sales didn’t break records, but the band received something significantly more important–critical respect in an often unforgiving industry. Their rock-solid debut, Reinventing Axl Rose, opened many an eye and reminded people what made punk vital in the first place. It was not long before they were commanding respect from industry leaders and facing a growing line of record labels. Ever since signing with Fat Wreck Chords the band has seen their star rise, gaining a strong reputation the world over thanks to their strong output and incessant touring schedule.

“We were in this small mountain town called Regensburg in Germany, it’s about two hours from Frankfurt,” reminisces Seward. “We started playing and all the kids already knew the words. The best part of being in a band is playing the shows.”

Regensburg surely isn’t an isolated experience. After Reinventing Axl Rose came the critically acclaimed As the Eternal Cowboy and then Sink Florida, Sink, whose powerful lyrics and fuck-the-man attitude have laid the foundations for a huge fan base. Playing shows with such respected acts as Anti-Flag and Rise Against, combined with feverish touring, has also established Against Me! as a force to be reckoned with. In the last few years, Against Me! has achieved more than most bands ever hope to achieve, a course they intend to maintain.

“We usually tour nine or ten months out of the year and after a while there is some frustration, but that’s when I put it in context,” admits Andrew. “I don’t see how anybody would rather work a shitty office job than touring ’round the world with their friends.”

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