Despite being funny guys, Anti-Flag’s outspoken views mean the punk band are often seen as “political robots”, drummer Pat Thetic tells Daniel Cribb.
Anti-Flag have always fought strong for human rights, peace and justice, and with the arrival of their latest studio recording, The General Strike, they have nine albums to prove it. The left-wing American rockers are one of the few punk bands who practice what they preach and give a damn about the issues surrounding their country and the world. When the Occupy movement took over the US, Anti-Flag were in the thick of the crowd with acoustic guitars, rallying for change. In December last year, Indonesian police arrested fans at a local punk rock show and shaved off their mohawks, changed their clothes and forced them to pray. The next month Anti-Flag flew over to Southeast Asia for a run of shows. With occurrences like this happening all over the world on a daily basis, Anti-Flag are never short of subject matter.
“Watching the news and watching what is going on around the world is very interesting to us. We always feel as though there's a point of view that's not being talked about in the media, so we are always looking for those things and want to bring those up so they are put into the dialogue. We're firm believers that the more ideas that are in the discussion, the better off we all will be,” Pat Thetic explains.
Like a parent struggling to keep up to date with the slang used by their children, Anti-Flag sometimes find it somewhat of a challenge to express their views through recordings in a timely fashion. “There's a song on the new record where we reference the PS4 – as in PlayStation 4 – and I heard the other day that they're calling it something else and we're like 'Argh, fuck!',” he laughs. “When you write music, or create anything, you never know if it's going to take too long to come out. Today in 2012 there's significantly less lag time between creating something and having people hear it.”
To combat the issue of time, Anti-Flag built a studio in Pittsburgh with the money they made from dissolving their deal with major label RCA, enabling them the luxury of being able to record whenever they want or need to. “This is the second record we've done in our own studio and I think it's important to make it clear that when we say, 'We have our own recording studio', it means it's not a posh wooden studio with leather couches. It is a cinderblock room with recording gear in it and dumpster-dive carpet on the walls. We have a recording studio in the sense that we don't need to go and beg anybody to give us money to go into somebody else's studio. We can create our own music when we want and say exactly what we want, when we want. That is the important thing about us having our own recording studio,” Thetic explains.
Despite appearances, the drummer says Anti-Flag indulge in as much horseplay as any other band. “One of the things that we've learnt over the years is that Anti-Flag cannot have a sense of humour – even though we're all very funny people. When we say something and try to be funny, people don't see it as funny, they think that we are being serious… It's very difficult for people to see us more than just political robots sometimes. For me, the messages and the things we are talking about, I'm willing to sacrifice a little bit of people thinking I'm a happy guy and wanting to have a beer with me for them to listen to the message.”