By Nolan Lewis
At the tender age of 17, armed only with an acoustic guitar, Tom Gabel captured the audiences of his guerrilla concerts with potent anarchist anthems. From these humble beginnings, Against Me! developed their knack for writing and performing powerful protest songs that didn’t need an amp to get your attention. Moving away from the Laundromats and bonfires, Tom found three other ramblin’ men and took his show on the road. The guitars are now plugged in as Gabel fronts one of punk’s most original bands, while managing to stay true to the roots the genre was built on.
With three critically-acclaimed albums under their belt, Against Me! has a solid archive of songs in which to sing along to with your fist in the air. Getting around more than the beloved Canadian television icon of the ’70s, the Littlest Hobo, Against Me! have brought their high energy live set of genre-bending punk to fans the world round. Having recently taken a break from their constant touring to record their fourth album, they have set out to craft some new songs for their every-growing
legion of fans.
“It’s always kind of weird throwing a new song into the set,” explains Gabel. “Usually, with our live shows, people like to sing along and dance to the songs they know. So when we throw in a song that nobody knows we’re kind of met with dead stares.”
Regardless of the awkwardness, the new songs fans are treated to from their forthcoming album New Wave have been getting very positive feedback. New Wave marks the first release by the band after being signed to the label the Ramones once called home: Sire Records.
“From talking to people and looking at their track record, they were definitely a label geared towards rock music, if you want to call it that,” says Gabel.
One of the biggest advantages for the band being signed to a major label is the opportunity to work with some new people, like the man behind Nirvana’s Nervermind—and arguably the best producer in the business—Butch Vig.
“We had demoed a couple songs and had sent them to Butch and he responded pretty immediately. We talked on the phone, he came out to see us and he was really into doing it,” Gabel recounts. “It was amazing. I can’t say enough about him as a producer. I think his track record speaks for itself; he’s awesome and I’d love to make another record with him.”
Against Me! is known for their ever-evolving style that seems to be most widely categorized as folk-punk. However, being believers in releasing albums that capture the moment and the energy in the band at that time, Against Me!’s sound changes as much as their mood. New Wave is no exception, even going so far as to feature Tegan (of Tegan and Sara) as a back-up vocalist.
“I try to jump all over the place, I don’t like to write the same song over and over again,” explains Gabel. “We were on the Warped Tour this summer and on one of the Canada dates she came out and interviewed us and jokingly said that if we ever wanted someone to do backing vocals with then to give her a call. I wrote the song thinking about the way her voice would work. Once we demoed it I sent her a version and said I’d really like her to sing this song and be a part of it, and she was
really into it.”
With a fresh record deal on a major label coupled with relentless touring, Against Me! is ready to share their music—and their message—with a wider audience.
Against Me! plays Thur., March. 29 at the Warehouse.