January 28, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 65  

Front Page >> Arts & Entertainment > Story


> News
> Editorial & Opinions
> Arts & Entertainment
> Campus Life
> Sports


> Archives
> Search Archive:
> Browse By Date:

More Stuff

> Photo Gallery
> Comics
> Contests
> Links

Talk to Us

> About Us
> Submit Letter
> Volunteers
> Advertising
> Gazette Alumni Society


Death of a Nation bands talk punk and politics

By Colin J. Fleming
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photo
AGAINST 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 mellow dudes.

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 to share.

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 message.”

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 label.”

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 Staff

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 been there.”

Paul, who grew up in the same neighborhood as 50 Cent, is also heavily into hip-hop, preferring old-school Wu-Tang Clan and early ’90s 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 hard dudes.”

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 Paul.



Arts & Entertainment Links

© 2003 The Gazette  
BluThng Productions