ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Death of a Nation bands talk punk and politics
By Colin J. Fleming
Gazette file photo
ME! ARE HARDCORE PUNKS. Can’t you tell just by the name?
These guys were at Call the Office last Tuesday as part of the Death
of a Nation tour.
For a band that tours with Anti-Flag on the Death of a Nation Tour and includes
an exclamation point in their name, the guys from Against Me! are some pretty
In fact, Tom, the lead vocalist whose screeches both in concert and on disc
are beyond intense, is barely vocal at all — he seems more preoccupied
with his new digital camera. However, James, the lead guitarist, is a bit more
social and talkative.
Before our conversation deviates from punk politics and moves to Michael J.
Fox, Marty McFly and Italian pasta sauce, James has some interesting things
He addresses the subject of whether or not the majority of his fans comprehend
the political message behind their music. “You should pay attention to
everything you do in your life. Even if people aren’t political, the
people are going to want to listen to it… and hopefully pick up on the
James is also extremely grateful for being able to work on the independent
label Fat Wreck Chords. “There is a little bit less bull shit you have
to deal with. You can 100 per cent be yourself and do what you want on indie
labels. You kind of have to accept [the bull shit] if you’re on a major
He claims that online file-sharing, something advocated by a lot of bands
and condemned by many as well, causes quite a few problems even for small artists.
“[File-sharers] are inadvertently ruining the music industry... even
independent labels. After a while, we’re not going to have the funds
to record, and bands are going to have to resort to recording records for 200
bucks and its going to sound like shit. It’s a catch-22.”
Before going on to rant about the finer points of Back to the Future and Happy
Days, James ends with a concise and accessible philosophy about punk music. “The
main point of any band is to have a good time. If you have a message it is
an added bonus. It’s like the toy you get with the Happy Meal. It’s
like the onion ring when you buy the fries.”
By Colin J. Fleming
Gazette file photo
NONE MORE BLACK: ANTI-MAINSTREAM, PRO-EVIL. OK, so the last part is false.
Anyway, NMB were also part of the Death of a Nation tour, which made
its London stop last week.
Paul, a Former Kid Dynamite member and current bassist for None
More Black, seems completely disenchanted with the power of protest
and the state of the punk scene. Yet contrary to his visceral and
powerful stage presence, he’s completely calm and articulate.
“If you protest in the [United States], it doesn’t mean
shit,” Paul argues. “Rage Against The Machine, for example — a
good seven or eight of their fans are just there for the music. It
is hard to make change if it’s just a handful. I’m not
trying to bash it, but mainstream crowds just take everything and
take the heart out of it.”
Paul insists that punk today is “way more commercialized” and
goes even further by claiming that “it’s not even punk,
it is just pop with a punk image.”
Despite his allegations, Paul is incredibly loyal to the punk
scene and scorns those who have deserted it.
“Indie rock is the retirement home for hardcore people. Some
people just get burnt out,” he says. “I’d always
keep listening to this shit, and I know so many kids now all about
Sabbath and Zeppelin who say, ‘I used to listen to hardcore,
now I listen to Pink Floyd.’ I’m like dude, I know, I’ve
Paul, who grew up in the same neighborhood as 50 Cent, is also
heavily into hip-hop, preferring old-school Wu-Tang Clan and
East Coast rap. According to Paul, it seems that rap too has departed
from its roots and has been absorbed into the mainstream. “When
I was in high school, all the kids that were into hip-hop were
In spite of None More Black’s rising popularity and strong
opinions, Paul asserts that he embodies the characteristics of
an average guy. “I’m just a regular person; I don’t
consider myself a punk.”
However, in today’s current mainstream-soaked musical climate,
it wouldn’t hurt to have a few more “pseudo-punks” like