By far one of the most politically motivated, modern punk rock bands you’ll ever find is Anti-Flag. Formed over twenty years ago in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the group has made a career out of speaking their minds through their music on various political issues, most commonly their distaste of the American government. The band just released their latest album The People or the Gun at the beginning of the summer on indie label SideOneDummy after briefly siding with a major record label. The guys have been touring this summer on the Vans Warped Tour and will depart for Europe in mid-August to play a number of dates there. We were lucky enough to catch up with Anti-Flag’s bassist and co-vocalist Chris 2 for a quick chat about what the band is currently up to.
The roots of Anti-Flag go back now over twenty years. How does it feel to still be doing the band today? Did you ever think you’d be where you are now?
Chris 2: Being in Anti-Flag is very similar to how it was when we started. We all believe in our songs, we all work hard to share them with anyone who will listen, and we only hope that someone finds solace in the ideals and messages of the band. To answer the second part, no, never in a million years did we ever think we would play shows and release records outside of Pittsburgh, let alone Russia and the other various places we have visited.
After your decision to sign a major label deal with RCA records a few years ago, the band received much criticism due to the band’s past anti-capitalist views. What do you make of this? Are you happy to have signed with a major label?
Chris 2: We still believe the capitalist environment we live in is poisonous. We believe that people all around the world should be compensated fairly for their work, and that exploitation is the basis for global economies. Signing to a major changed nothing about those beliefs. The major label decision was a great experiment. We went in, spent their money on our ideas, they released our albums all over the world in places we have not had releases in before. In the end I believe we got more out of them than they got out of us.
You’re now again on an independent label called SideOneDummy. What made you decide to sign with them?
Chris 2: We’ve known Sideone for years, we knew we would not be releasing this album on RCA as our deal was for only two records, but we wanted to record without structures, so we wrote, recorded and put the record together before knowing who would release it. Sideone is the only label we sent the record to, they were as excited to release it as we were excited to release it with them.
Your debut album on SideOneDummy titled The People or the Gun was just released. What was the writing and recording process like for the new record? How long did it take to complete and how many songs did you demo for it?
Chris 2: We love the record. The writing process was swift and ferocious. We were focused, a lot of important issues have been happening around us as well. It took only a few months to build the studio, write and record and build the album package.
What would you say is perhaps the greatest difference between The People or the Gun and your past releases?
Chris 2: It’s the most Anti-Flag record we have released. It is just the four of us, no other influences.
The People or the Gun is a very interesting album title to say the least. How did you come up with this title? What is the meaning behind it?
Chris 2: It’s a reference to the fact that our society spends more on warfare and weaponry than education or health care.
I read that you self-produced the new record. Why did you decide to do it this way instead of going with a big name producer?
Chris 2: We’ve done records in other studios, with “big name” producers, this record we preferred to be in control of our songs.
Yet again, you’re going on tour this summer with the Warped Tour. What would you say is your favourite thing about going on the Warped Tour?
Chris 2: The shows. Lots of kids who may have never heard of us before or seen us live. It is a great opportunity to meet new people and educate them on the ideals of Anti-Flag.
What’s next for Anti-Flag? What do you have planned for the fall and early 2010?
Chris 2: We’re on tour through 2010. Warped Tour and Antidote Tour in Europe with Alexis on Fire. And we’re going to headline North America early 2010.