Proving that punk rock and politics can co-exist within mainstream culture, Anti Flag are here to get you thinking… and maybe have a little bit of fun along the way.
Drummer Pat spoke with us about major labels, major shit talkers and opening for the most dangerous band on the planet…
Interview w/ Pat (Drums) of
By Cameron Chambers
how are you today man?
Good man, how are you?
I’m doing well mate.
Where are you guys at the moment?
We are in Lancaster, Pennsylvania,
so we’re not quite home yet. Tonight’s our last show on this tour
and then we’re going home tomorrow which will be nice!
Where are you at man?
Nice! What time is it over
10:30am man, so it could
Ah yes… it could always be
worse, ha ha.
You just finished a Canadian
tour with Alexisonfire, Saosin and The Bled. How did it all go?
The tour went great! Alexisonfire
are huge in Canada so the shows all went really well. There were lots
of people and we rocked them all, ha ha.
We got a chance to play a few
new songs and people seemed to think they were pretty cool so it was
a success all the way round!
I’ve heard a lot of horror
stories about close minded US audiences. Did the Canadian crowds respond
well to such a diverse line up?
That’s definitely true. The
Canadian audiences are a bit more European than the Americans are. They
are open to ideas such as socialized medicine and freedom of press…
so the Canadians are usually more into what we have to say.
Anti Flag have been on tour non stop since “For Blood And Empire” was released
in March 2006. What have been some of the highlights, for you as an
individual and as a band?
Wow. That’s a really interesting
I try my best, ha ha.
Ha ha. Well, we’ve been really
lucky and we’ve had some amazing people come into our lives. We’ve
had some people come to our shows and talk before we play.
Some people… we actually
had Jim McDermott come and speak… he’s a congressman from
the Seattle area. So that was another exciting thing!
Things like that are exciting
for me. Don’t get me wrong, rock shows are great but the exchange
of ideas and being involved with people who are trying to make things
better was the highlight for me.
Your second record for RCA, “The Bright Lights Of
America”, is scheduled for release early next year. Can you tell us
a bit about the themes and issues you’ll be tackling on this album?
It’s a little bit different
for us. I’m not sure if you’re aware of much that’s happened in
our lives, but in January of this year number 2’s (bass player Chris) sister was murdered… and that definitely hit us in a profound
It changed the way we were
thinking about things and it influenced the things we wanted to talk
about on the record. This record is more introspective and more personal
than our other albums.
We’ve been working on…
we thought well, let’s give it a go and do it differently. We’ve
made good punk records in the past so this time we were looking to add
a bit more texture. We already know how to record bass and drums and
guitars so let’s try something else.
We got Tony Visconti to produce… he’s done stuff for T-Rex and David Bowie, and he added some more texture to the songs. We rented a bunch of orchestral instruments too! It’s amazing you know… you give someone $100 and they’ll let you fuck up their timpani, ha ha.
A bigger label usually affords a bigger budget for recording. Have you
experimented with anything on your next album that you hadn’t had the
opportunity to previously?
For sure! It wasn’t the budget
that had the impact though. It was more a way of thinking for us…
what we can do and what we haven’t done previously… what would be
cool for the song, you know?
We actually had a children’s
choir come and sing on one of the songs… and by children’s choir
I mean our nieces and nephews which is cool because it didn’t cost
us anything, ha ha.
We were just like, “what
sounds creepy”? Kids singing is creepy… let’s do that! Ha ha
You guys justified your
signing to RCA by saying that they gave you complete control
of your music and lyrics. Has the label kept up its end of the bargain
as far as staying out of your affairs and letting you do what you want?
Amazingly they have! I was
actually just talking to someone about this over dinner… which is
why I forgot to look at my phone, sorry about that.
Anyway, my friend’s worked
with a bunch of shitty record companies and we’re so lucky because
the ones we’ve worked with over the year have been amazing. RCA
has stayed out of our creative process and they haven’t tried to push
us in any one direction. They’re an amazing label compared to some
of the ones we’ve worked with.
We’ve worked with Fat who
were amazing and we have our own company… but RCA has been
great up to this point. I’ll be the first to tell you when they’re
acting like bastards though! Ha ha
It’s been almost two years
since the transition from indie to major. Has there been a noticeable
difference in the crowds at Anti Flag shows, not just as far
as audience sizes but in their willingness to hear your point of view
and better understand your message?
You know what, you think the
crowds would be less friendly to our ideas but I’d argue that they’re
more accepting of our ideas. It might just be the era of history that
we’re in right now, but when we were a younger band people didn’t
know what we were about and they’d come to a show and want to beat
us up because they didn’t like what we were talking about.
Now it seems that the people
at our shows have seen an ad for the band, or read an interview or their
friends have told them what we’re about… they get it before they
walk in. They may still be pissed when we talk about this issue or that
issue, but they know what they’re getting before they come to the
“A Benefit For Victims Of Violent Crime” EP was released this year.
The circumstances surrounding the record are obviously horrific but
have you been happy with how the EP has been received? Are you able
to tell us how much has been raised for the
“Centre For Victims Of Violence And Crime”?
Yeah man, it’s gone great!
I don’t know how much has been raised because I’ve been on tour
so I haven’t been watching it… but when I get home I’ll look at
the books. Ha ha
It’s been great though. Everyone
we’ve talked to has been so supportive. Fortunately issues like this
don’t have to a lot of people but a lot of people have had some kind
of tragedy in their lives, so this is a way of talking about these things.
It wasn’t necessarily about
anyone else… it was a way for us to deal with the situation. In those
situations you’re completely helpless so it let us say what we needed
to. It makes us happy and we’re excited about making music and releasing
Labels and bands who are
involved in charity and fund raising are few and far between these days.
Do you think more punk and hardcore bands need to take an active role
in this area?
No, ha ha.
I don’t actually. I think
that bands work their arses off all the time and there’s so many bands
that we know who are struggling to make enough to pay their rent and
eat. I think it’s expected of punk bands to be charitable and do everything
for free and for a benefit, and it’s unfair.
At the same time, we’re lucky
enough to be in a position that I know I can eat tomorrow so I can use
my… whatever it is I do, my work or my passion, to help other people!
It’s not fair to say that
because you’re a punk band you have to give your money to someone
else. I’ve often though about this and I think we should do a punk
show to benefit punk bands, ha ha.
In a couple of weeks you
guys will be making your third trip to Australia as part of the BigDay Out. A lot of bands treat this tour like a holiday
because you have so many days off. Do you guys know much about the festival?
I don’t know much about it
but I know people have called it the big day off, ha ha. So yeah, I
hear there’s a lot of days off so hopefully we can do something fun
and cool. I haven’t really been thinking about it though to be honest.
Is there anything to do in
You should probably just
drink a lot and go surfing, ha ha
Well, I’m un-athletic and
don’t drink so that weeds that out, ha ha.
Last time we went to a wildlife
park and saw some kangaroos… although most bands probably do that
Pretty much, ha ha.
Ha ha. It was fun and amazing
but probably tragic for the kangaroos. You have no idea how uninterested
the kangaroo looked with me trying to feed it. It was just like “stay
away you jackass”. I’m sorry Mr Kangaroo, ha ha.
Are there any other bands
on the bill that you’re keen to check out?
I know Billy Bragg is
doing some shows. We were lucky enough to drink with him a year and
a half ago and he’s a hero of ours and we love his music.
Obviously Rage Against The
Machine will be there and Tom will be playing with his NightWatchmen stuff too.
I think the days will be pretty
packed between our rocking and seeing our other bands.
Apart from the festival
dates Anti Flag will also be opening the Rage Against The Machine side shows. Musically your bands are
completely different so am I correct in assuming it’s your shared interest
in all things political that has ensured you’re playing together?
It’s friendship man. We’ve
been friends with Tom for a number of years now and he’s been
supportive of our bands. We obviously have some shared social views
of the world but we’re definitely friends with them as well.
Tom came out and did some shows
with The Night Watchmen a few years ago with us, so I think they
like us as a band and Tom likes us as people.
I think it’s safe to say
the audience will be champing at the bit to see Rage, do you think you’ve got a fighting chance of winning them
We’ll just tell them to fuck
off, ha ha. We don’t care!
I’ve been told I wasn’t
cool my whole life so it has no impact on me. One thing we’ve learnt,
and I’m not trying to blow my own horn here, but very people, regardless
of whether or not they think my band sucks and they don’t care about
the music, can just ignore us.
I’ll just play drums and
scream at them for fifteen or twenty minutes.
You guys will also have
your own club shows. Do you still have a say in the support acts?
Um, we do actually, but to
be honest, I was not involved with that decision this time round. Number
2 usually figures that out.
We’re working on another
tour right now and deciding who’s going to be on the opening slots
so yes, we do, but I just can’t remember right now.
That’s all we have time
for mate, is there anything else you’d like to say?
Just that we’re going to
playing a couple of shows in Australia and that even if you don’t
believe in our band or what we have to say, come to the show and it’s
still a good time!
We have a lot of ideas but
it’s a lot of fun too!
Hopefully people will come
to the shows, ha ha.
I’m sure they will…Thanks
for your time.