Editor’s Note: It was a wonderful experience at Warped Tour and I stood there in shock at the press table as I was checking in noticing that I got to interview one of my favorite bands in Anti-Flag. They are a representation of what punk music is all about, and that is not conforming to the system, standing up for other people’s rights, and raising awareness for other causes. Many conservative people give this band a bad rap simply for their band name. If one listens to their music or read any of their song lyrics, they are a band that is deeply concerned about the issues that are plaguing this country. I could’ve talked to Pat for hours but I was also cognizant of the fact that they had other interviews and other happenings at the Vans Warped Tour stop in Shakopee, Minnesota. I give you my conversation with Pat Thetic, drummer of Anti-Flag.
M.T.C.: Thank you for taking the time to interview with me, just tell me who you are and what you do in the band.
Pat: Thank you for having me, I’m Pat and I drum for Anti-Flag.
M.T.C.: Tell me how Warped Tour is going this summer.
Pat: Warped Tour is a challenging tour to do, but we’re happy to play with bands like Sick Of It All, Valient Thorr,War On Women, and Municipal Waste, been a lot of fun with them.
M.T.C.: Any cool memories with them?
Pat: Just getting to see Valient Thorr play and hearing War On Women talking about issues on stage and highlighting that we need to be aware of all rights, including human rights, and that’s awesome. Bad Cop Bad Cop has been really great, we have had a lot of fun with them.
M.T.C.: That’s the one thing that I’ve always admired and respected about you and Anti-Flag. Out of all the years that you have played in the band, how has the issues changed or how has this country changed?
Pat: I would like to think that our message has not changed as the message has gotten more precise as we have gotten older. As we have gotten older, we’ve realized what things need to be talked about and what things don’t need to be talked about, we’ve realized where our anger is most effectively used and what ideas need to be changed, and how we can be a part of that change. Anti-Flag obviously isn’t changing people’s minds, we are a part of a community that whether you’re on the right or whether you’re on the left, there is a dialogue that is changing the culture and right now we are in a shitstorm with Trump, and hopefully we will realize that Trump needs to go down, what is the world going to be like in a post-Trump world, that it’s time to figure that out.
M.T.C.: I’m going to ask a crazy question here. Let’s say Anti-Flag is on stage and Donald Trump is in the middle of the mosh pit, how do you or the band react?
Pat: *laughs* That’s a fun question! As a human being, it’s not what it’s about with Trump, it’s what he stands for, so hopefully with Trump as a human being, in a perfect world, this is what could happen. In an armored car, when you break into an armored car, it shoots foam at whatever is in there, it solidifies and it traps and it doesn’t let anything leave. If you could do that with Donald Trump and shoot him with foam and it would encase him completely, and none of this bullshit would be able to get out, that would be awesome because Trump as a human being doesn’t matter to me, Trump as someone who is legitimized in bigotry, sexism, homophobia, and racism, he is a product of that, and when he legitimizes those things, which are the worst parts of our culture, it gets people to thinking that it’s okay to express those views when it is NOT okay to express those views. We want everybody to come out of the closet, be who they are, racists, sexists, and homophobes can move to the back.
M.T.C.: I learned about Anti-Flag when you all played in 2008 with Rage Against The Machine at the Republican National Convention protest in Minneapolis, what are some takeaways from that night and what did you learn from Rage Against The Machine?
Pat: I remember that night! I had two amazing experiences with them! One was that we were set up as the proxies for Rage Against The Machine because if it was announced that they were going to be there, the whole thing would’ve been shut down. We were sent in as sort of as a cover-up to some degree, that they would go in and they use our gear and come in and play as a secret thing, but obviously the cops got wind of it before they were able to play, and they shut it down. But that was highlights for me because it is something that is universal. It is so much fun tell the powers that be to f*** off, it is so much fun to make them afraid that the population is going to call them out on their bullshit, and we experienced that with Rage Against The Machine at the RNC because of how they were so afraid that they sent in all of the police, all of the riot cops because they were afraid of four dudes speaking truth, and that scares the shit out of the powerful, and it’s so much fun to be a part of those experiences, whether it’s a protest, action, or organizing and to experience that with other protesters, whether it’s groups organizing, to get people to come together and realize how much power that you have, whether it’s four people or 4,000 people or 400,000 people in one space saying one thing. It scares the shit out of them.
The other amazing thing from that weekend was that we were offstage and the kids were starting to mass outside of the show and the riot cops came with the horses and put gas masks on the horses, which is always a sketchy time because when they start putting gas masks on horses, things are going to get ugly. But I remember the kids singing the National Anthem, and I’ve never been a fan of the National Anthem, but the theater of riot cops beating up kids who are singing the National Anthem is amazing theater to me, and when you film that and show that to the world, you realize how f***** up that situation really is, and so that was another incredible moment for me to see that happening, and I was like, “maybe the National Anthem isn’t that bad, maybe it can be used for good and not just for rah-rah-rah nationalism.
M.T.C.: Speaking of a couple of the causes that you talked about a little bit ago, are there a couple of causes that you want to plug for people to check out?
Pat: Amnesty International is always amazing because it’s an organization that you can get involved in from just writing a simple letter and adding it to thousands of other letters in order to help people to get out of prison. The way Amnesty International works is when governments hide people away, they use them in whatever way they see fit. Amnesty International shines a spotlight on those people and it shows them that “we’re watching them, you can’t abuse them”. Amnesty is an organization that is amazing because it’s easy for people to get involved with them.
Sea Shepherd is another organization that is amazing because they are battling the high seas, which is amazing and it looks like a f****** pirate ship and it’s awesome. They’re from the show “Whale Wars”. There’s also other amazing organizations. PETA is doing good work, Action For Animals is doing good work, they’re both educating people that even if you don’t go vegetarian or vegan, just cutting out meat for one meal a week means that one less animal has to be killed just so you can have a nice meal. I, myself, am vegan, it’s the choice that I make for myself, my wife eats meat, everybody can make whatever choices they want, but when you realize that even just eating a veggie burger one day a week can have not just a major impact on you, but on the whole world because the environmental impact that it has on farming leaves a big footprint, so there’s a lot of organizations that we work with, and also just in the last couple of years, especially on Warped Tour right now, there’s a lot of organizations that deal with trans issues. We met a lot of trans people who need support in the process of figuring out who they are and who they want to be to the world, so any organizations that are dealing with trans issues because there are a lot of young people that are battling with that issue and with the higher suicide rate for trans people, that’s not good for anyone.
They need help with the process and with that phenomena. It’s funny that we were just talking about this, wouldn’t it be awesome if we got the Iraq veterans, Afghan veterans, and American soldiers who are coming back because they’re committing suicide in astronomical rates, and it’s horrible with the stress that they have had to deal with, and they’re dealing with suicide in horrible ways, and we have trans people who are dealing with high suicide rates as well, and we should bring those two groups together because they both are dealing with these catastrophic horrible situations that they’re in, they all need support on how to manage that.
M.T.C.: For someone that is in education or at the workplace what advice do you have for those that need to help those dealing with those issues?
Pat: All I have is compassion, whatever you can do to help that kid or that co-worker in that moment because in your situation, you’re going to know how to handle it better than I am. It’s just the reality that people are suffering because they are forced to be people that they are not, and that sucks for everybody. I wouldn’t want somebody to tell me that I had to put on a suit and go to work every day. Luckily, I found punk rock and three other people who have accepted me for who I was, so hopefully everybody can get a chance to find that to feel accepted. Congratulations to you for the work that you do in helping those that need help man! *shakes my hand*
M.T.C.: That is so humbling coming from you. I suppose we can talk about your music as well! *laughs* In 2015, Anti-Flag released “American Spring” and I love the record, and you had the opportunity to work with Tim Armstrong from Rancid on “Brandenburg Gate”, what is the song talking about and what was it like working with him?
Pat: Thanks I appreciate that! Tim is a force unto himself and he was just incredibly creative and he is just a talented person. The song “Brandenburg Gate” is about when the Berlin Wall was still up and in Germany, there was a no man’s land between the Russian side and the Western side, and Brandenburg Gate was in the middle of those two sides, and they were sort of trapped, and I thought it was an interesting metaphor for socialism and capitalism and the f***** up bits of both sides and that you have this thing in the middle that could potentially find a balance between those two things. Obviously, Russia is not a Communist state in the sense of the good things in Communism. In the U.S., it’s definitely not good capitalism, but there are spaces in between them that we can combine those two things together, in a perfect world. It’s definitely a perfect world type of song.
“Brandenburg Gate” by Anti-Flag featuring Tim Armstrong
M.T.C.: The video to “You’re Fired” is a shot at Donald Trump as we have discussed in the interview? In your view, what do we need to do to fire Donald Trump?
Pat: It’s very apropos with that song today! *laughs* When we wrote it up until now, I think now the left is sitting on the sidelines, because everyday there is a new revelation that comes out that Trump is a jerk. When knew he was a jerk when he colluded with the Russians all of that stuff. I think the left is sitting around saying, “we’re just going to wait for the process to happen”. Hopefully, Congress will finally realize that Trump is such an asshole that he needs to go. If that doesn’t happen in the next couple of months, then we need to put boots on the streets and we need to start “Impeach Trump” rallies, that if we get 100,000 or 200,000 people in the streets of D.C., that it’s time for Trump to go, then I think we will have real action. At this point, we’re waiting for the special prosecutor to see the bullshit that is going on and maybe they’ll do it in a less grandiose way and they’ll realize that he’s an asshole, but if that process doesn’t happen, then I think the American population will realize that Trump needs to go and the best way for all change to happen is if you put people in the streets, then politicians become afraid. The organized population is the only thing that checks the power, so hopefully in the next couple of months if Trump doesn’t fall, we will have a major protest in D.C.
“You’re Fired” by Anti-Flag
M.T.C.: After Warped Tour, you guys are doing a European run with Reel Big Fish, Mad Caddies, and Sweet Little Machine, how is playing in Europe different from America and what can the European fans expect from that tour?
Pat: We leave this tour, then we go do festivals, and we come home, and then we go do that fun run in Europe. The interesting thing about Europe versus the U.S. is the liquor laws. In the U.S., there’s a big separation between 21 and under and 21 and over, which keeps those two communities separated. In Europe and most other places around the world, those boundaries don’t really exist, so a kid that gets into punk rock at 15 is still in the same community at 35 as he was when he was 15, because that culture is continuous. In the states, when you get into punk rock at 15, you go to bar shows at 21, there’s a disconnect between those two communities. In Europe, I think there is a better continuity which leads to better use of resources, better quality of shows, and better activism because you have the young bucks that are 15 and you have the old heads and they can better interact with each other, whereas in the states they are separated.
M.T.C.: What’s the plan for Anti-Flag after this tour?
Pat: Hopefully after this Warped Tour we start writing some music in the next couple of weeks and the new record will be out in the fall.
M.T.C.: Do you have a working title or anything?
Pat: We’re still working out the details on that, but reach out to us in the next couple of weeks and we’ll be able to tell you all about it! I’ve heard the music obviously, and it’s awesome, and the videos that are going to go with it, we’re really excited about that.
M.T.C.: Where can we find you guys and why should people come see an Anti-Flag show?
Pat: You should come to a show because we’re going to rock your f****** ass off, you can go to our official website and one of the things that is important to us is not only the songs, but also the information that is about the songs and why they are so important to us, if you go to the website, you’ll find that stuff, along with resources and other organizations to find that information.
M.T.C.: Thank you so much for your time!
Pat: Awesome, this was a lot of fun and thank you!
And there you have it! Before the tour with Reel Big Fish, Mad Caddies, and Sweet Little Machine, Anti-Flag is embarking on the “No Gods, No Masters” European tour, check out the tour dates via the tour banner. For tickets and further information in regards to that tour, click here.
The following are the tour dates with Reel Big Fish, Mad Caddies, and Sweet Little Machine, click at the link above the tour banner for tickets and further information.
Wednesday, October 11th- O2 Ritz in Manchester, England
Thursday, October 12th- O2 Bristol Academy in Bristol, England
Friday, October 13th- O2 Leicaster Academy in Leicaster, England
Sunday, October 15th- O2 Leeds Academy in Leeds, England
Monday, October 16th- O2 Kentish Town Forum in London, England
Tuesday, October 17th- O2 Kentish Town Forum in London, England
Wednesday, October 18th- O2 Newcastle Academy in Newcastle, England
Thursday, October 19th- O2 Glasgow Academy in Glasgow, Scotland
Anti-Flag has U.S. Tour Dates including the Aftershock Festival, check out the link above for tickets and further information. All dates not pertaining to the Aftershock Festival will be on tour with Flogging Molly.
Saturday, October 21st- Aftershock Festival at Discovery Park in Sacramento, California(appearing with Nine Inch Nails, A Perfect Circle, Run The Jewels, Stone Sour, Mastodon, Gojira, Highly Suspect, Eagles Of Death Metal, Tech N9ne, August Burns Red, Nothing More, Deap Vally, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Code Orange, Greta Van Fleet, Bleeker, While She Sleeps, and He Is Legend) Tickets and further information are available here
U.S. Tour dates with Flogging Molly:
Monday, October 30th- Bogart’s in Cincinnati, Ohio
Tuesday, October 31st- The Rapids Theatre in Niagara Falls, New York
Thursday, November 2nd- Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey
Wednesday, November 3rd- Electric Factory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Thursday, November 4th- Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park, New York
Friday, November 5th- The Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts
Find Anti-Flag at the following locations: