Bending the rules before it was cool, one of the most outspoken, raw, political and downright obscure punk bands of all time, Anti-Flag, has a knack for educating their listeners and the naively oppressed that showcases punk rock at it’s best. Taking action has never been foreign terrain for the group of outspoken activists that have dished out some of the greatest anti-war jams of the 21st century. On the brink of their winter tour, I caught up with the guys to discuss their perception of punk rock, the 2016 election, tattoos and more.
Your Winter tour with Reel Big Fish, BALLYHOO!, DIRECT HIT! & PKEW PKEW PKEW is bound to be an absolute riot. What are you looking forward to this time around?
Honestly, this is the longest tour in North America we have done in FOREVER! For it to be happening at a time when more people are interested, focused, and feeling a breadth of emotions over American politics is very exciting to us.
The “Get WITHOUT END” remix that you just released features P.O.S. and one of the most unique musicians of all time, Tom Morello. What was your experience like working with the mastermind?
He’s been our friend, ally, guru for almost two decades now. He is not only the smartest person I know, he’s the best musician I know. We learn so much from him and have since we met touring with Rage in 1999.
Let’s talk tattoos. Tell us about some of your favorite personal pieces and the artists that brought them to life.
My tattoo from Lionel at Out Of Step Tattoo in France is one that I treasure having been a huge fan of his for so long. Being able to bring his kid to our show and get tattooed by him at a festival was just an awesome experience. My friends Marcus and Nadine at Stay Gold in Pittsburgh have filled all the space on my body that doesn’t get an artist from when on the road. And Mike Ski at True Hand Society. He’s done so much art for the band, to have him tattoo me as well brought shit full circle
How has punk rock changed from your perception of your career?
Well, no one gets the shot of optimism that we get daily at their work. This is not lost on us. The empathy we see from the punk scene, the fight for social and economic justice, every day we are reminded that we are not alone. Punk rock gives us that lesson.
I can only imagine the amount of batshit crazy chaos that you guys have experienced over time. Tell us about one of the craziest moments you have ever encountered with a fan.
To bring it to tattoo world. Kids asking for autographs on their skin so they can get them tattooed. I feel awkward enough just giving an autograph already. I get sick almost thinking about it that way! Let’s just high five and hug it out! No need to take it to that level, please.
Are there any newer punk bands that you are listening to that deserve and have earned some credit?
Homeless Gospel Choir. Endless Mike and the Beagle Club. We run a label (A-F Records) for the sole purpose of sharing art that we think flys under the radar.
What do Anti-Flag fans have to look forward to over the next six months?
We are on the road!!! Australia. US. Canada. Europe. Oh and by the way, we have this awful human being who was just elected president. So we have to go and interact with people every day to find solace. To be free to be ourselves. To support our brothers and sisters in marginalized communities, ones that on the campaign trail this awful human worked to further marginalize.
This election cycle has been absolutely insane. What one aspect of it racks your brain and what do you perceive is our country’s greatest opportunity for change?
We’re at it. The crossroads of all feeling disenfranchised with American politics. This is our opportunity for 3rd and 4th parties. No more next time. No more lesser of two evil. Remove corporate money from American politics and the landscape of candidates becomes VERY different.
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?
Just that if you feel alone, if you feel that need to find comfort in your own skin, there’s a community for you. Punk rock is a place where sexism, racism, homo, and transphobia are at the top of our list to combat. Creating space for us to all be ourselves and care about more than just ourselves is the goal.