Wed 21st Jul, 2010 in Features
Gainesville, Florida. There must be something in the water there. The city has been churning out some of the world’s most respected and long standing punk-rock bands since… forever. Against Me! is one of the finest and Tom Gabel took time out of the band’s current tour with the Silversun Pickups have a yarn about the AM! powerhouse.
Gabel starts off with what is going on right at that time. “I’m sitting in my tour van in Philly for the next 75 minutes. The tour’s been really mental, Andrew [Seward]’s wife went into labour two months early so we had to call up a friend to fill in while he went home to be with her. All is fine, the baby and his wife are fine.”
Released in June this year, White Crosses is the bands fifth full-length and their second release on major label, Sire Records. The band headed back into the studio with Butch Vig who also produced their 2007 effort, New Wave. “I think he gets the best result out of us. He has taught me patience. There are the obvious technical aspects but I think he has taught me patience above anything.”
Since the release of New Wave, long time drummer, Warren Oakes, parted ways with the band to open up a Mexican restaurant. This left Against Me! With an opening that George Rebelo of Hot Water Music fame was recruited to fill. “There is definitely a difference between New Wave and White Crosses. Both different drummers, but both great drummers. When we knew we needed a drummer he was the first guy we went to,” Gabel explains.
Any Against Me! fan would be aware that there was someone in the world who couldn’t keep the release to themselves. The album leaked in March, three months before the scheduled release date. Fans would also know that Gabel immediately responded by posting the album’s lyrics on his blog. Gabel had no problems sharing his thoughts on the leak, “We had some demo tracks leak once, I think that’s the earliest something can leak. They aren’t even real tracks yet.”
As for his thoughts of file sharing, “I mean, I’m all for it. If you have no money and you need to listen to something then go for it. If you can support the scene in other ways by coming out to a show or whatever than that’s okay with me.”
If New Wave wasn’t the album that divided Against Me! fans then White Crosses is definitely the one that split them in the middle. Many older AM! fans have expressed their discontent with the groups move away from the gritty folk-punk sound that they brought to the table with Reinventing Axl Rose to radio friendly rock.
Gabel says that two 80s acts were big influences that crept into the White Crosses songs. “Tom Petty hugely influenced this album. I moved to St. Augustine so I would have to drive for 75 miles and listened to a lot of Tom Petty during that time. It’s hard to say exactly what we were listening to at the time because a lot of it came through sub-consciously. The Cult influenced it too, none of us even listen to the Cult but we started with one riff that sounded like them, it came through and we thought we’d roll with it.”
As for what they are playing on their current tour, and what can be expected from them when they get down under later this year, “The great thing about being on tour with the Silversun Pickups is that most people are here for them. We can play anything because not many people know our songs. Most of the new stuff is on high rotation. But we play what people respond to. High Pressure Low, Spanish Moss, I was a Teenage Anarchist people seem to really enjoy.”
With the release of White Crosses, two words keep popping up on the vast landscape of internet message boards. Those words are ‘sell out’. This may have something to do with their shift in sound from when they began to where they are today. I approached the question of being perceived to have sold out delicately to which Gabel instantly turned it on me, what was my idea of selling out? I responded with the idea that selling out would be compromising your music for the sake of a quick buck.
Gabel had a different view of what, in his eyes, it really would be to sell out. “I think of selling out as hanging up the guitar and working in an office, or flipping burgers or something like that. I don’t think we’ve sold out. We will make music that we like making, not that anyone else thinks I should make.”
“I would do this even if I couldn’t make a single cent of it. The fact I can make money off my music is fucking awesome but I wouldn’t stop even if I wasn’t. This is what I do and this is what I will always do until I die.”