Features Interviews Against Me!

Interviews: Against Me!

Scene Point Blank: The song Justin on your last record (which addresses Yahoo's refusal to allow the family of a dead soldier access to his email account): Did that ever get resolved?

Warren: I don't know the final resolution. His family is like, from Detroit, Michigan, and we played there only a few months past, we played in Detroit and like, nine, ten of his family members came to the show, and they all had t-shirts that they'd made up that had his full name, you know, Justin Ellsworth, and we got to meet them all and hang out with them. They were like "Thank you so much for making this song, it's really amazing that you noticed this and picked up on it, it was something that would have just fallen through, now it's something that like...". I dunno, playing that song that night was like.. shit, we better not fuck it up, you know (laughs). But for me, that was the resolution, meeting the family. It can be delicate when you use somebody's real life as your lyrics, like, are they gonna be upset, but they were really supportive of what we were doing and that was the resolution for me.

Scene Point Blank: Related to that, do you believe that the troops should be brought home now from Iraq?

Warren: Today is actually the third anniversary of the current war this Saturday, and there's protests happening internationally demanding the international "coalition" forces be removed, (aside: did you see the quotes on 'coalition'? (laughs) SPB: Yeah, I'll put those in.) ... that coalition forces be removed, the US troops, and a handful of Brits and a handful of Australians for the most part. It's one of those things that's like.. so entangled right now that if all the troops did pull out tomorrow, would it fall into civil war in Iraq? There's a good chance that it would. Or would the people that ended up on top, the most idealistic people, the people with the most guns.. it's really hard to say. But the way that it's proceeding now, with the US army, that's pretty much making a permanent installment there, and then setting up all the networks to funnel oil in a really cheap prices directly to American corporations, to just lockdown their oil supply, and it's gonna turn it into an American oil farm. The path that it's heading down is a nightmare, and so if they just abandon that path and just get the hell out and saw what happened, to me.. I'd take the variable over the really obvious path that you can see them laying out right now. I would flip that coin, just because, if nothing stops it, you can see exactly where it's gonna go.

Scene Point Blank: One of the biggest trends in the UK lately is the fashionable indie rock scene and bands like the Arctic Monkeys being hyped by the NME-

Warren: -You know, it's kind of funny, I know all about them, I know their whole story, I know the deal, just from all the media attention that they're getting, but I haven't heard their song yet. It's like one of those things that makes you feel really distrustful when you hear a lot about something... it's a lot better to have somebody, some person reccommend something to you, but that's the other thing, you know, that no people are like "I really love this record", only the media..

Scene Point Blank: What do you think of the hype machine in this sense?

Warren: I think it's something that's particularly susceptible to the UK, since it's really geographically concentrated and there's a few cities that really control all the music media. It seems like, bands can play one show, and if the right handful of people are at that show, they'll get reviewed in every national press, and then they'll eventually go on a tour that's five shows long in Leeds, Brighton... you know better than I do, and that would cement them as legends for the rest of their career. It's not quite as easy to establish that same kind of hype in the States, because everything's rolled out. For a band to even consider doing a full tour of the country, you have to have your shit together and have some resources. You can kinda do a couple of one-offs and it seems like if people like what you're doing... there's such a high turnover rate in music. People consume it, and excrete it so quickly that it's.. I really treasure the musicians that I've loved for a while, that I look forward to release something new, I'm like charting their progress and mis-steps that they make, and experiments they do that I don't really understand, I mean, that's a musician you can stick with for years. Bands write great pop songs, that'll keep happening forever.

Scene Point Blank: Who are some of the musicians you love in that respect?

Warren: It's mainly just a guy, but it's turning into band, it's called the Mountain Goats, really amazing. Like, his catalogue, he has probably a dozen albums out by now, and he's just a great lyricist, a great storyteller, he's just phenomenal. And the fact that he's not well known blows my mind. Mountain Goats are amazing. For me, I really love the band Karate, I think that everything they do, even if it involves some long jazz solo where they kinda lose me, I like the way that they're playing together. I'm trying to think of active bands... I love the Police..

Scene Point Blank: The Police are fine!

Warren: There's a really cool band right now called The Exit that we've done a few shows with, and we're like, curious to see what they're gonna do, cos they're like.. reminiscent of the Police a little bit, and kind of reggae/rock feel, and they're one of my favourite bands right now. The Constantines, with each new album they've done, it's really.. I can't imagine them doing something that wouldn't catch my ear. Great band.

Scene Point Blank: One criticism of you guys is comparing the lyrics to Reinventing Axl Rose to the Against Me! of 2006. What do you say to that?

Warren: I think it's something that I really appreciate, since generally I can decline answering questions about lyrics really easily, since I didn't write them, I'm just the drummer, but that's something that a lot of people said, "What about Reinventing Axl Rose?" and I really appreciate that the way we wrote that song.. I don't feel that there's any contradiction. I think that it's written in such a way that ... I've gone line-by-line because I've had good friends ask about that song. It's like.. I do want a band, I think it never says that we are the band, it's utopian, we want this to be the situation. Ideally, musicians would be able to play music, all musicians, whether they wrote catchy pop songs or not, would be able to play music if that's what they loved to do. And they wouldn't rely on the commercial mechanism, and they wouldn't have to depend on selling a certain number of albums to play music. You could get, I dunno, socialised artist support, the same way that visual artists will take a grant from the government to do a painting... there could be a similar system in place for bands to be provided for, so they could play music, and it would take that commercial drive out of it and it wouldn't just be about whether you had a good hairdo or not. We roll with the punches, you know, and we try to live without rules for ourselves and try to respond accordingly to the situation. I identify as an anarchist still, and some people think that's bullshit too, but that means that I take each situation as it comes, and I respond in what feels like the best thing, what feels true to me. I wanna be able to sleep at night - do I feel like I'm treating people with respect and I have equality in my interactions with people I deal with? Those things are all really important. There's times when playing music and wanting to travel and wanting to pursue music, you have to engage in some interactions that are somewhat unpleasant, and like.. do I wanna do this festival that's sponsored by this one corporation that I don't really care for, to be able to share a stage with this band I really love? And sometimes you make that choice, and it feels right to make it. And anybody who takes issue with anything that we've done, and dismisses us, I bid them a fond farewell, and I don't want them to feel bad for us for leaving, I just want them to find great bands that deserve their support, more than anything.

Scene Point Blank: Any last words?

Warren: Um.. thank you very much for your time and your patience

SPB Special: Against Me! wallpaper!

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Thanks to: Nanette at Fat, Lee for the camera loan and Alyssa for the Best Friends Day tipoff.

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Words by Matt on Oct. 16, 2010, 11:09 a.m.

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Posted by Matt on Oct. 16, 2010, 11:09 a.m.

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