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Against Me! Interview 
by Lalo! on 2007-08-20

LG: How are things going right now? How is the tour going so far?

TG: It’s been a really good tour as far as shows go, we’ve had awesome shows and all the bands on the tour have all been great, it’s a good time and everyone gets along really well. However, the weather has been shit and everyone has been really sick throughout the entire tour, I don’t think that I’ve ever been as sick on any other tour as I’ve been on this one.

LG: So you were just in San Luis Obispo?

TG: Past couple of days have been great, we were just in Austin, TX for like 3 days and made our way to Southern CA and from there came up this way. We were in eastern Canada at the beginning of the tour, and that’s where everyone got sick. And ever since then it’s been like trading the cold back and forth.

LG: I can imagine it must have been pretty tough to make it through the tour unscathed. So when you were in Austin, you were doing SXSW shows?

TG: Yeah, we did 5 shows in 3 days and then 4 or 5 interviews every day on top of that

LG: Man, I’m not feeling so bad… two interviews a night must seem like a breeze after that. So, you’ve played SXSW before, so how did the whole experience compare?

TG: This is our third time playing SXSW, and there were just as many people at the shows. Like I said, we played 5 shows in 3 days and the shows ranged in size from not very big to very big, but I figure that’s the way SXSW works. You get a lot of people at some shows, to almost no one at others.

LG: How about with the tour so far (Fake Problems, Riverboat Gamblers)? How would you compare your different experiences, you’ve been on the road pretty constantly for the past year since I last saw you play. The show size? Tonight you’re playing to a sold out crowd at the Catalyst. How would you compare this to say opening to Alkaline Trio in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Casino?

TG: It’s nice to headline your own shows, but at the same time it’ good to be on a supporting tour because there is no pressure. You’re pretty much like “whatever!” you play your show and then you’re done. And this tour has been awesome, al the shows have been great, turnout-wise, and the bill itself builds to a nice crescendo.

LG: Let me ask you how the recording went in Los Angeles, because this is the first time you’ve recorded on the West Coast. I know there are a lot of comparisons in this interview, but how would you compare the recording process with someone like Butch Vig out here, rather than recording on the East Coast.

TG: The coasts have their own differences, but I think that recording with Butch would have been the same no matter where we were. The actual recording with him was amazing because it was an awesome experience. He’s a real professional who has the track record he has because he is very talented. I hope that the record will just speak for itself.
LG: And how did you like Los Angeles? You were there for quite a while.

TG: We were there for like 3 ½ months. I went into it thinking that I was going to hate L.A. because pretty much every time I’d been there I’d hated it, but now I would consider moving there. Every day the weather was beautiful, and I don’t know, I think that people get this idea about Los Angeles, how the people who are there are pretty snobby, and I’m sure that there are people like that, just like everywhere. I found that while we were staying in Burbank and recording in Hollywood, and that’s where we spent most of our time, it really felt like a little city, you could stay in an area and not need to travel elsewhere. It is a huge place, but can really exist in your own little neighborhood.

LG: What kind of state were you in while you were writing this record.

TG: After we finished recording …Clarity and while we were getting ready to go on tour to support the album, I threw all my stuff in storage and got out of the lease for my house. I started living in a hotel, I decided I wanted to try and live in one for a full year, and I ended up living in a hotel for over a year and six months. So, I wrote the whole record while I was living in a hotel. We were really on support of …Clarity while this record was being written, and that kind of has a big part of it. And I was in a real positive space while I was working on this. Clarity I felt was such a dark and moody record, a downer in a lot of ways, and I wanted to write something that was optimistic and defiant in a way.
(At this point we get interrupted by a guy who’s going to be taking pictures during the show)

LG: After I heard …Clarity, I was kind of frightened because from the whole sound of the album, I thought that the band was on the verge of calling it a day. But there were also the political songs, how is the new album as far as politics go?

TG: As a band you continue to put out records, and you really try to stay socially relevant and relevant to the time in which the music is being made, and the past couple of records have been written while the same war has been going on, so it’s an unavoidable conflict to touch on. Sometimes I feel like we’re beating a dead horse and frustrating, because I realize that I would write a whole record full of songs about nothing but the subject with the knowledge that it’s really not going to change anything, it definitely touches on that. But you know, I try to vary the topics and go all over the place.

LG: With a song like “How Low”, dealing with substance brings up a question about substance abuse and the use of drugs like cocaine, which seems to have become more prevalent in the crowd and with bands that you all play with. I guess I would just like to hear what you think about the whole drug trade, and how that aligns with your politics, which I can see from your lyrics are very socially aware, how do you reconcile using substances here in the states affects people particularly in Mexico (however indirectly), and in turn how does that affect the music community in general.

TG: I think that drugs are around, and they are definitely around in the band scene or music scene, and Gainesville in particular, coke is huge in Gainesville. I don’t necessarily think that it’s a good thing in a lot of ways and I recognize that not everyone who uses drugs has a problem, and I don’t want to be some kind of Christian bible beater being like “drugs are bad, don’t have sex until you’re married”, but I do recognize that drugs definitely tear apart a lot of communities. I also recognize where those drugs are coming from being such a relevant issue, I think that’s something that’s also frustrating as a songwriter, because people will say that this is a political song and that is a personal song, I thought that writing a song like ‘How Low’ was a really political song, by talking about drug use in the punk community and stuff like that, and other people would see that as a very personal song, and I don’t know, it surprises me. People think very narrow-mindedly about what are political issues. That’s usually like: war is political, poverty is political, gender issues are political and I think that drug use is a very political thing, especially if you look at the amount of people that are going to prison for drug use. I’ve had a lot of trouble with drugs while growing up, and I’m at a place right now, well I’m in a good place right now.

LG: Well, that was one of my longer questions, but moving on, just out of curiosity. What are some of the things that you’ve been doing on van rides, books, etc?

TG: Good books? I guess the “Time Traveler’s Wife” is the last good one I read, and Vanessa (Mutiny PR) is the one who recommended it to me, I think the author’s name is Audrey Fitzaneager, I could be wrong about that last name. Totally fiction. But I’m reading this book right now called “Sadie Smith on Beauty”; so far it’s been awesome. I’ve also got a copy of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”, which is really good, its poetry and it’s really good. I’ve kind of been wanting to get into that whole scene of authors, I never read “On The Road” before, and it’s the next book on my list to read.

LG: That’s a wonderful one, but you know, sometimes its kind of hard to keep up with current authors, I mean, I can keep up with the dead ones alright. Kind of tough trying to reach out and find new ones.

TG: Of course, but you know, just trying to maintain the balance. But I also just read “The Plague” by Albert Camus, which was really good. I read “City of the Dead”, something like that, that wasn’t pretty good.

LG: Talking about “On The Road” brings up questions in my mind about going home. How does it feel to go back to Gainesville nowadays, when was the last time you were there? How do you see things after having been on the road for such a long time? How things have changed? Do you still consider Gainesville your home?

TG: You know, I’ve thought long and hard about considering Gainesville as my home , as I said, I lived in a hotel for a year and six months, and I didn’t have a house there, and I was trying to move away from there, but… Hey Vanessa (at this point Vanessa from Mutiny PR checks in to see how far along we were and checking about the next interview). But I fought really hard against living in Gainesville, but being in the band has made it pretty unavoidable, so I’ve kind of surrendered to that, but I still hold out hope about moving away, but it’s difficult because Gainesville is a really small town, and when you’re away for such long periods of time, I know people because I used to know them, but I don’t really know them anymore, so it’s a lot of weird on the surface friendships in a lot of ways. And Gainesville is a college town, so there are always new people coming to town, and I just feel like it’s never going to change. It’s always going to be a college town and rightfully so, but most people that live there are in a certain time in their life where they’re like in their late teens, early twenties, and like just moved out of their parents house for the first time, and they don’t really give a shit about anything, they’re getting fucked up all the time, hanging out, and going to shows, playing in bands and that’s great, it’s awesome. But when you get to the point, like I want something other to do than go to a bar on a Friday or Saturday night, and I want other options for hanging out and social interactions, not strictly only revolving around alcohol.

LG: What are some of the things that you like to do like that, not necessarily revolving around alcohol.

TG: I like to see movies, I really enjoy going to the theater to watch them. One of my biggest complaints about Gainesville is that, I mean like the Hollywood trashy ones, but I would like some other movies too you know, and there aren’t really any other movie theaters around. Museums, whatever, art shows, even some kind of circle gathering.

LG: That must have been something nice about living in Los Angeles, because you have so many options while you weren’t in the studio. But, moving on. Last time we spoke, you hadn’t really toured internationally yet, I was just wondering what some of your places outside of the US have been.

TG: Australia, it’s my favorite place in the world. Its band paradise, I want to go retire there. New Zealand was great, and we just had the opportunity to go to Japan a while ago and that was rad. We were only there for three days, but I think it was right after the last time we spoke we toured Eastern Europe and went to Iceland, and all those places were all pretty awesome.

LG: How did Americans Abroad! Come about? What came first the title or the desire to record a live album outside the US?

TG: The song came first, then the idea to record a live album, and once we had the song we decided that it sounded like a good album title, especially when the album was being recorded.

LG: Well, I guess I’ve got enough tape to go around for a while now, and you probably need to be getting ready for the show tonight, but I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to chat with me. Congratulations with everything.

TG: Thank you.




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