By Trevor Morelli
CALGARY – Those familiar with the longstanding punk group Anti-Flag know their albums are firmly rooted in politics, world issues and current events, with their newest record American Fall being no exception. With 20 years and 10 albums under their belts, they have come to deliver a sound and style of their own, and no strangers to speaking this minds.
“I feel greatest about the fact that when tumultuous times happen in the political spectrum, a light gets shined on punk rock,” remarks bassist Chris Barker. “A light gets shined on activist music, and a light gets shined on any type vocation or art that is used to comment on the politics of the day. We really imposed a lot of pressure on ourselves to deliver what we thought would be concise in a thought-out statement about a normalization of bigotry that is being seen across the globe.”
American Fall is an album full of lightning-fast guitar riffs and up-tempo power-pop gems – Barker credits the tightness of the record to the band’s longevity and many years of refining their craft. Prior to recording the album, the band wrote upwards of 35-40 songs and then had the unenviable task of picking out the best ones.
“I think that American Fall as a record is the four of us at our best,” he says. “That mostly has to do with how long we’ve been doing it, how prepared we kind of were for what was to come. There’s never one particular strategy or one particular way that works for Anti-Flag. Sometimes we have complete songs written, whether it’s Justin (Sane, frontman) or myself, and sometimes we have just one melody or one lyric. A lot of times Pat (Thetic, drummer) says, ‘Hey, we need to write a song about this’ and then we just sit down and do it. That’s why you see such an eclectic version of Anti-Flag on American Fall. This time we just went with the best songs, the most meaningful songs we thought would connect and leave the listener with some reason to come back to it.”
When discussing current events with the band, it’s hard to know exactly where to start. Trump? Gun control? Health care?
“There’s an endless amount of inability to put distance between those that are committing atrocious acts of violence and hate and bigotry,” Barker states. “I think the other thing that’s kind of a cornerstone of the record but also a cornerstone of the Trump administration is this idea of distraction politics, where we become so focused on the immediacy of a tweet or the immediacy of a mishandled press conference, and meanwhile there’s this endless corporate smash-and-grab that’s happening in the White House where they’re rolling back legislation on environmental protections, they’re rolling back regulations as far as weapons manufacturing and sales, they’re rolling back regulations on oil manufacturing and sales and these have made a lot of people a lot of money really quickly.”
While nothing is on the books yet, Barker says Anti-Flag is hoping to bring the tour for American Fall to Canada in the New Year.
“We’re going to get out there and share it with as many people as possible. If you’re looking for a band that stands in opposition to racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, and bigotry, we are here and we’re always looking for members of our community.”America, Anti-Flag