Anti-Flag Peforms Anti-War Punk in the Obama/Drone/Wikileaks Era
Punk bands have a tendency of burning out long before fading away. Pittsburgh's Anti-Flag has proved to be an exception to the rule. The band has been writing politically charged punk and touring relentlessly for the better part of 20 years.
Cory Morton Anti-Flag
"I really love the old records," says vocalist/guitarist Justin Sane, who's taking the band on tour and revisiting songs from its extensive discography. "They're a great representation of where we were at the time."
Before Anti-Flag embarks on its big anniversary tour, the band is scheduled to stop by Tempe as part of annual Flogging Molly's Green 17 tour. We spoke with Sane about politics and the band's plan to spend St. Patrick's Day partying in Tempe.
Up on the Sun: I was kind of surprised to see you guys on the bill for our St. Patrick's Day show, since Flogging Molly and Pepper both seem like party bands. How does Anti-Flag fit in on that bill?
Justin Sane: Anti-Flag is pretty well known for our live show being an energetic good time. Even though Anti-Flag isn't, "content-wise," what you'd call a "party band," I think we put on a set that's exciting and fun. In that respect, we fit in well on the bill. I'm Irish, so it just makes sense that we would play around St. Patrick's Day on that kind of festival. I'm literally an Irish citizen, so me and the Irish roots go way back. I gotta have a little bit of that in me every year.
Given your political stance, you guys have been pretty generous about playing in Arizona. Do the state's politics have anything to do with that, or is it a just place you'd hit between California and Texas, anyway?
It really has to do with the geography, to be totally honest [laughs]. But also we have a great fanbase in Arizona. The Tempe/Phoenix area -- we've always had some amazing shows there. Arizona as a state is quite conservative, [but] I think part of the reason Anti-Flag has been successful in Arizona is that our shows also work as a gathering place for people who have a different point of view. I think that's an important aspect of punk rock. Punk rock shows are meant to be a place for people with common ideas gathering together and be reminded that they're not alone in the world, especially for people who live in a crazy, conservative, frightening state [laughs].
I think that's part of what made the commercial boycott of the Sound Strike difficult. Fans weren't able to have that sense of unity at live shows because the bands weren't coming. You guys were part of that boycott.
We signed onto Sound Strike, but for me Sound Strike wasn't about literally never playing in Arizona again. What the Sound Strike was about for me was making a symbolic gesture. It was a symbolic gesture to make a statement. I guess some took it literally, like "We're not going there." That wasn't my point of view as far as how Anti-Flag wanted to approach Sound Strike.