One of the greatest political punk bands of our time is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Anti Flag. This Friday will see the release of their newest album ‘American Reckoning’. It’s an acoustic album made up of songs from their 2015 release ‘American Spring’, and their 2017 release ‘American Fall’. Drummer Pat Thetic chatted with us about the album, the 3 covers on the album and heaps more.
It’s a wonderful sunny Wednesday morning in Melbourne when the phone call to Pat is made and he’s quite boisterous when he answers. Exchanging pleasantries I ask Pat how his day has been so far. “I actually just got off stage! Was just chatting to some people at the merch booth.” I apologised for interrupting and Pat laughs “It’s all a part of the rock’n’roll experience!”. Anti Flag are currently on tour with AFI and Rise Against and as Pat had just gotten off stage I asked how the show went. “It was awesome! We’re in Austin, Texas so it’s a little hot and humid.”
Next we moved the conversation to the album, and I first asked what the motivation was to do an acoustic album of already released songs, rather than a new album. “Well we really wanted to record some cover songs, and we had some songs that we really wanted to play.” Continuing, Pat also went on to say “These songs, this is a lot of fun, let’s get them out to people so to make it more interesting we did some acoustic songs from the last 2 records.” The band covered Surrender by Cheap Trick, John Lennon’s Gimme Some Truth and For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield. I asked Pat why these three particular songs were chosen. “They’re songs that we always liked and For What It’s Worth is a very anti-war, anti-corrupt government type song and we felt it was very appropriate to do a song like that in 2018.” Pausing to tell me he lost train of thought and to share a laugh with me, Pat went on to say “It was a fun thing to do and we wanted to do it.”
I then asked Pat if he had a favourite of the tracks they covered. “Well For What It’s Worth we have a video coming out for that with an organisation called Every Time, which is an anti-gun violence organisation.” At the time of the interview the video had not yet come out so I asked Pat if he could tell us about it without giving much away. “Yeah! It’s a live video. Our part of the video is just cool shots of us playing live but it’s give great statistics about how many people die every day in the States due to gun violence.”
Anti Flag have always been known for their anti-war and political output so I asked Pat how important he thought it was for bands to have a political opinion in today’s climate. “I don’t think it’s important at all. I think people need to write music that’s important to them.” Pausing for a moment, Pat goes on to say “However for me it is the only thing that is interesting in art is to make political statements. If it’s not making people uncomfortable, it’s really not worth producing. That’s my personal view. It has to have a social or political statement behind it.”
I asked Pat next if having a political output was a personal passion, or if it was a band passion. “It’s a band passion, the other guys are more interested in sonics and how things sound, I’m more interested in messaging.” Pat also says “When we get together and we both get our ideas in it works really well. For What It’s Worth is a great one for us. It brings interesting sound and interesting song writing together with a political statement. When we do that we’re at our best.” While on the topic of the song, I asked Pat if they were currently playing it live. “Not yet! We’re hoping to but since it hasn’t really been released yet we don’t want to put it out yet.” So keep your ears open for that one!
As the new album will be acoustic, I asked Pat if they would incorporate the songs into their set once it’s out, or if they’ll do an acoustic tour afterwards. “We haven’t figured that out, we’re talking about it. It’s in the works. Right now our whole year is booked so we don’t really have a place to fit it in yet.” Expanding further on that idea Pat says “It’s gives a whole different vibe and a different feel (acoustically). Sometimes when we play live we’re going fast and you don’t get to hear the lyrics. Acoustically it’s a different experience and sometimes it’s more powerful.”
I then asked Pat how they chose the songs that they did to do acoustically. “A couple of reasons, one of them was so people really got what we we’re trying to say. Not that we felt like people didn’t get it! It’s a different experience hearing it acoustically than with a full band.” Another reason he mentioned was “With a stripped-down version it gets down to the text and stuff. As a band we’ve always tried to make the lyrics important, and what we’re trying to express is important.”
To close, I asked Pat if he had a final thought to share with me “The final thought is fascism in 2018 is real. No one is illegal. The idea that some people are less human than others is completely backwards. We need to make sure that everyone is given human rights. We need to fight against it.”
Pre-Order your copy of American Reckoning, out September 28th via Spinefarm Records/Caroline Australia, HERE!