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Interview:
Anti-Flag at the Royal Oak, 5 Things To Know
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

Pittsburgh's blue-collar roots make it a fertile and appropros place to make angry punk rock -- as Anti-Flag can attest after nearly 30 years and 10 albums.

The group got going in the late 80s and has put its money -- and time -- where its mouth is. Anti-Flag not only actively supports causes such as Amnesty International, PETA, Democracy Now!, Greenpeace, Occupy and others, but it also started its own organizations, including the Underground Action Alliance, Military Free Zone and The Bright Lights. Its efforts were showcased in the documentary "Sounds Like A Revolution," and it's hosted ANTIFest gatherings for both music and socio-political discourse.

Anti-Flag's last album, 2015's "American Spring," voiced concerns and disappointments with the Obama presidency, showing the group doesn't take political sides. But we can be confident that the quartet is also licking its chops over the cornucopia of song possibilities the incoming Trump administration may offer...

Anti-Flag frontman and co-founder Justin Sane says that even in the short time the band has been on the road this year he's feeling the impact of last year's presidential election "Every night after the show we try to go out to the front of the venue and talk to people, and night after night they're telling me, 'I came here tonight because I wanted to be around some people that are concerned about the direction of the country,'" Sane, 42, says by phone from a tour stop in Chicago. "They wanted to know they were going to be in a place where there was going to be some support and solace for the kid of things they're feeling right now. It feels like there's a lot of distress."

Sane agrees with those who expect the next four years to inspire a great deal of protest music. "Art and music often reflect how people are feeling," he says, "so, yeah, It'll definitely be a time where I Think political music will probably get a little bit of a boost."

The election results actually caught Sane and his bandmates by surprise, which is bringing a lyrical shift in the material they've been writing for the next Anti-Flag album. "We were kind of gearing up to take on Hillary Clinton," Sane says with a laugh. "We were talking on Barack Obama on our last few records -- the deportation of people, the prison industrial complex and continuing the Bush military doctrine. So we weren't easy on Obama, and we kind of believed with Hillary Clinton was going to be more of the same so we weren't going to roll over and take that. But now that it's going to be Donald Trump, it takes it to a whole other level. I can't believe I'm probably going to be writing songs about nuclear disarmament, and so much else."

Sane and company plan to take a minute to watch what happens with the transition of administrations, however. "We're hoping for the fall," he says. "We're nog going to put anything out too fast, and with our schedule and that kind of thing it's not really feasible for us to rush too much. So it will be interesting to see where things are sitting in six months or so and make a critique we feel is relevant to what's going on at that time."

Punk rock and protest aside, Sane and the rest of Anti-Flag are also immersed in the NFL playoff run of their home town Pittsburgh Steelers. "Oh yeah, we're pretty happy," he says. "I like their chances this year; Early on I thought they were done, and even if they made it to the playoffs there was one way, it'd be one and done. But now the way the defense is playing, it's like a completely different team, so we'll see. It's fun time of year. Some of the guys in Reel Big Fish are big football fans, so we plan on watching the next rounds of the playoffs with them."

Anti-Flag and Reel Big Fish

Thursday, Jan. 12. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St.

Tickets are $22.50 in advance, $30 day of show.

Call 248-399-2980 or visit royaloakmusictheatre.com.


Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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