In Conversation With Anti-Flag

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania punk outfit Anti-Flag recently released their seventh record, The People Or The Gun, an album that finds the band continuing their tradition of speaking their minds on everything from religion to the state of their country.

Formed in 1994, the band has returned to the world of working with an independent label for their newest album after producing two records for RCA, a major record label. The move to a major label was a surprise to many with some worried that the band’s political agenda would be compromised by the influence of a large corporation. Those fears were laid to rest however with their first major label album (2006’s For Blood and Empire) as the band was as vocal as ever on the issues that concerned them.

If anything, the time spent on the RCA label helped bring Anti-Flag’s message to much a broader audience than they might have reached via an independent label. And according to Anti-Flag bassist/vocalist Chris #2, it was a worthwhile experience, as brief as it was.

“It was a great experiment,” he starts. “We definitely got more out of them than they got out of us. It was great to spend their deep pockets on our ideals, however we are very happy that time period is behind us.”

As the United Stated emerge from one of the darkest time periods in their history under the presidency of George W Bush, his actions of the previous eight years will continue to provide fuel to the outspoken group for many years to come.

While Chris is happy with the changing of the guard at the top of the political chain, he is wary of the expectations being heaped upon the shoulders of current US president Barack Obama.

“Obama is not the saviour of our souls. He is a part of raising the social conscience of the global political landscape. His triumphs are yet to be seen, but he seems to have the US on a much greater path than McCain would have,” he states.

The newest Anti-Flag record was made in the band’s own studio, a liberating experience for the group which Chris tells [here] Magazine allowed the record to be completed fairly quickly.

And while the group will continue to be outspoken advocates for the causes important to them, Anti-Flag also have a generous side to them not often seen with musical groups of any genre.

They have created two non-profit organizations with the intent of educating others to find their own voice.

The first organization, the Military Free Zone (www.militaryfreezone.com) aims to educate students that the US government is collecting their personal information via the “No Child Left Behind” bill. The American public school system turns over student’s personal information to the government so it can then be used to recruit people into the US Army.

The site offers students the necessary paperwork so that they are able to opt out of the military’s info collection while also encouraging visitors to sign petitions against this practice. Also provided on the site is a link to the e-mail contacts for the US congress representatives for any given zip code in the US for people to directly contact their congressional reps to voice opposition against the bill.

Chris states that military recruiters act in a predatory manner and lead potential university students to believe that joining the military is the only way that they will be able to afford a university education. The Military Free Zone website offers a comprehensive breakdown of the exact monies people can earn by joining the military and emphasizes to people to not be lured by the promise of their education being completely covered.

The second organization created by the band is the Underground Action Alliance (www.undergroundactionalliance.org), whose aim is to engage youth to contribute their energy, ideas and excitement to work for equitable social transformation. Activists involved with the UAA are encouraged to speak out against racism, homophobia, sexism, poverty and war among other causes.

Indeed, Anti-Flag are a band who put words into actions rather than just sitting idly by waiting for others to pick up the torch for change.

The People Or The Gun is available for purchase in store as well as online.

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