With Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne now taken care of, Anti-Flag resume their Australian tour in Brisbane tonight. Joined by Strike Anywhere and The Flatliners you can catch them at The Zoo tonight, Coolangatta Hotel on Thursday, Manning Bar in Sydney on Friday and Uni Bar in Wollongong winds up the tour on Saturday night. Just prior to their arrival in the country, Cassie Walker had a quick chat with Chris #2 from the band. Expand this post to take a read. Head along to the shows if you get the chance, tickets available at the door.
After a slight delay Chris apologetically answers:
Sorry about that the call service was an unknown number so I didn’t answer at first and when I got this message I remembered I’ve got rock’n’roll duties tonight.
So what un-rock’n’roll duties were up to?
Well I really try and I’ve worked really hard in my life to build up the ability to do nothing, that’s where all of this comes from. That’s why all of the travelling happens and all the work goes into being in a rock’n’roll band so that I can really do as little as possible.
So people have this expectation of you being this punk rock super star, at home you smash bottles and paint political murals, but you’re actually at home knitting and cooking stir-fry.
That couldn’t be closer to the truth, don’t forget a little bit of gardening.
I think you and my Nan have a lot in common.
Oh yeah! Very much so and it’s an aspiration of mine to be as good at it as your Nanna.
As you did mention Anti-Flag are such a busy band, constantly writing and touring, how long has Anti-Flag been a job for the band members?
Well I mean it’s been, three quarters or more of my life. Every year since I joined the band, and I joined the band when I was 17, just as I was finishing high school and I had to do a lot of work in my life so I was allowed to leave high school early so we could go on tour and not have to drop out, and that 14 years ago. So it’s been this schedule and this pace for a long time.
And why did you think it was important to finish high school rather than dropping out to pursue the music career?
For me it wasn’t pursuing a music career. I just knew I was friends with these guys and they had a tour booked and we were playing some pretty small places and at the end of it we were spending far more money than we were making so I don’t think we ever had it presented to us like… you hear of some bands they follow the path and there’s the moment where they’re like “ok are we going to jump all in because people want to invest in us”, we never had that moment we just built it all up ourselves and it’s a bit of a slower process to just rely on yourself and learn how to book your own shows and learn how to put out your own records, but it’s more fun and rewarding and I believe we’ve been able to maintain and actually have real lives outside of the band because of that work that we put in.
And rather having other people invest in you it was yourselves, which I feel makes you appreciate and understand every angle of the industry.
If you look at it now, we all went through this whirlwind of the rise of political punk rock and we saw Anti flag and Against Me! and Rise Against and a lot of other bands signing to major labels and that was 2006 and I have a lot of friends in bands who were a part of that explosion of punk rock, but they’re having a hard time going back to van touring and going back to putting out records themselves and being creative and savvy and for us we’re cool with it, because that’s how we grew up. We know how to do it, we have the infrastructure that if no label wanted to put out the next Anti Flag record we could put it out ourselves, so I think we’re in a better position to be in after going through that meat grinder than our friends who haven’t been through it, maybe they’re breaking up, maybe they’re not working or touring as much and you get accustom to a certain life style and if you can’t go backwards, then you’ve kinda gotta get out of the game. Unfortunately I’m seeing it happen a lot more now, but fortunately for Anti Flag, we’ve done everything from sleeping on floors, to playing really big rock festivals so we’ve got a pretty good range of comfort level and we’re able to sustain and keep going because of that.
And with the 8th album that Anti Flag have just released, The General Strike, that was recorded in the band’s own studio, was that part of planning for the future and controlling your own future?
Yeah absolutely! You don’t have the limitations of money and studio time and all of those kind of things. You have your own place, you can work as long on something as you’d like to. Now that’s a kiss and a curse, there’s members of the band who shall not be named that never let songs be finished and they’ll be in there until the middle of the night recording vocals or changing lyrics and the record is stalled because of that BUT in the same breath I think that also leads to the songs being a bit more relevant and a good example of that is a song on the album called ‘The Ranks Of The Masses Rising” where we went in to re-record a lyric to that song and we’re able to tie it in from the occupy wall street movement, to the general strike protests and you feel like having your own studio, it keeps the door open for you to keep up with social commentary and keep it as relevant as possible.
And does that also give the opportunity to work with other musicians and bands?
Yeah! I’ve produced records in there and recorded some of my friends in there so it’s certainly a new aspect in our lives, but I’m not sure, because of the amount of work that we do right now, it’s not like an entity that we’re going to consider bringing in a lot more bands, but maybe as we get older and things slow down with the band, for sure that’s something I’d like to do is be in the studio a lot more and record music that I think is worth while.
And you’re in the position when you hear something you like you can give them a chance and your expertise in the studio.
Yeah yeah! There’s people looking for the experience of recording. If they’re looking for a nice, glossy studio with red leather couches you don’t want to come to Pittsburg, but if they just want to make a good record then I’ll do that for sure!
At least the garden will be lovely at the studio.
Anti Flag will be back in Australia, which is country the band constantly visit, as you did mention earlier you’re the type of band that plays basements and festival, previously the band have toured with Big Day Out and Soundwave festivals, this time you’re going back to the smaller club tour with Strike Anywhere and The Flatliners, it’s going back to the old school way of small venues and touring with your friends bands, are you excited to be touring on a smaller scale?
For sure. I mean I think that how far away Australia is and then doing Big Day Out and Soundwave, we never really got the opportunity to experience some really important records and the history of Anti Flag on a club level in Australia and it unfortunate because the way touring is set up, you’re lucky if you can go down to Australia once a touring cycle for a band like Anti Flag, just because it’s expensive to get to and it’s far away the 6 shows that you may play, so coming together this year we really wanted to make sure that we put together an awesome show, something that you don’t see happen too often. To come down and be in a really cool punk rock club or very cool show space, so I think that we’re really happy that it actually came together and when we had the idea of going down we started with The Flatliners and Strike Anywhere and that’s how it ended up. A lot of the times when you book tours that’s not always the case, you start off with a line up that you want and you’ll end up no where near it. So in that respect I think we’re going to bring a really cool show down there and hopefully people will be there to see it.
I have no doubt you will be playing to a full crowd, I still see masses of kids in the band’s merchandise at most punk rock gigs.
Because the previous tours have been major festivals you’ve had to play the bands ‘hits’, are you going through the song archives to put together a set list for the tour?
Actually we just did a really cool club run in Germany and in the UK where we were playing set lists that looked nothing like anything we’ve played in a long time so I think we’re pretty well versed in a lot of those songs that you’re talking about, so I think we’re fortunate enough that we’re in practice and we don’t have to work super hard learning a bunch of new stuff, but I think that in that same breathe we’re definitly going to come down there with a set list that you would not have seen at Soundwave or even Big Day Out.
Awesome, it sounds great Chris and thanks so much for taking the time out of your un-rockn’roll day to chat to us here in Australia.
No worries! Anytime and thank you, hopefully I’ll see you at one of the shows.
Collateral Manage Co, Blood Sweat and Beers, Blunt Magazine and Bombshellzine Present…
ANTI FLAG – The General Strike Australian Tour
w/ Special Guests STRIKE ANYWHERE & THE FLATLINERS
30th – The Zoo, Brisbane [18+] w/ Army Of Champions. Doors 7:30pm – Tickets – oztix.com.au 1300 762 545 & www.thezoo.com.au
31st – Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast [18+] w/ Milestones. Doors 7:30pm – Tickets – oztix.com.au
1st – Manning Bar, Sydney [18+] w/ Easy Company. Doors 7:30pm – Tickets – www.manningbar.com (ph 1300 762 545)
2nd – Uni Bar, Wollongong [18+] w/ Steel City Allstars. Doors 7:00pm – Tickets – Redback music, Unicentre, Bigtix.com.au & oztix.com.au