Pittsburgh political punk band ANTIFLAG are a band that moves you, that makes you inspired, but what music inspires them to create the music they do? With the release of American Reckoning, (out today) this new acoustic release gives us an answer to that question.  American Reckoning strips down some of the band’s latest hits to get to the heart of the message. The album features acoustic versions of songs off their last two albums, American Spring (2015) and American Fall (2017), as well as covers of some of the classics that inspired them. We talked to Drummer Pat Thetic about how these particular songs made the album and what it’s like being in a band as successful as Anti-Flag over the last 30 years.   

SCENEzine
How has the tour with Rise Against and AFI been going?

Pat Thetic
I just came off the stage 30 mins ago, the tour is going fucking awesome, we have been friends with Rise Against and AFI for years so it’s fun to actually do a tour together.

SCENEzine
Congrats on American Reckoning. I’ve been lucky enough to hear it and it’s awesome. How did the idea first come about to put this together?

Pat Thetic
Thank you very much, we were sitting around talking about cover songs we wanted to do because we have been a band for quite a while and we felt that there were these songs that people haven’t been exposed to for some time and thought ‘wouldn’t it be awesome to do a couple of cover songs’. So, we went into the studio and recorded those songs and then thought well this the end of the American Spring, American Fall records and those two records had a conceptual connection to them. So we thought, let’s take these cover songs and do some acoustic songs from those two records and put it out as like being the end of that era. We are really happy with the way it came out and think it’s pretty amazing.

SCENEzine
Was it hard choosing the songs for the album to know which would sound best acoustically, especially for yourself as the drummer?

Pat Thetic
Yea there is always a lot of arguments and discussing and bullying in making the decisions lol, I was less involved in choosing the acoustic songs but in choosing the cover songs was where the battles really were fought. It really is fun to go through all the songs who made you who you are and then fight your friends for which song you think is the most important song. The way it always works is the answer ‘well if your choice didn’t make this record then it will make the next record’. So I think there will probably be another group of cover songs we record, we had such a good time doing it and there were a lot of songs we didn’t get to record for this one.

SCENEzine
Can you tell us a bit about the filming of the video for “the debate is over”?

 

 

 Pat Thetic
That video is just a fun sort of video showcasing the town we grew up in and the experiences we had, as for this record is about going back a bit and showing the sort of things that made us who we are. But for the cover song For What It’s Worth, which just came out we worked with an organisation called Everytown which is an organisation pledged against Gun Violence and that song mixed with that video is really powerful as for it puts together some of the statistics about gun violence in the U.S.  As you know the U.S have a plague of gun violence problems but it seems it is spreading to other countries as well and hopefully other countries can learn from our mistakes and keep it from becoming the scourge it is becoming in the U.S right now.


 

SCENEzine
The cover art for this record is hand drawn and it is done by the same artist for the previous two records, are there any messages in the cover art you want people looking out for?

Pat Thetic
Yeah, there is! But you will have to find it yourselves, (chuckles). The cover art on this one is amazing and it does blend the other two records together bringing a lot of the imagery from the two records and we are really amazed at the creativity from Doug and the things he has put into the artworks. Doug Dean is really an amazing artist and we are really happy to work with him.

SCENEzine
One of our favourites from American Spring is “Brandenburg Gate” what was it like working with Tim Armstrong on that one? and was there any talk of having him sing on the acoustic release for American Reckoning?

Pat Thetic
Yeah Tim is an amazing dude and we were really lucky to have him sing on that song. It’s a great song and we were so lucky to have him on it bringing his personality and vibe to that song making it even better. We didn’t think about bringing him in, we thought it would be bit of a burden to get him to come in and sing his part on the acoustic song version and the other thing is Justin has had to sing his part live now since we released it a year ago and he has it down pretty well, but it was so cool to have him on the original.

 

SCENEzine
When I listen to the cover songs on American Reckoning I find ‘Gimme Some Truth’ and ‘For What It’s Worth’ really fit the themes of an Anti-Flag record but I’m really curious about how ‘Surrender’ by Cheap Trick made its way in the record.

Pat Thetic
That one was Justin and I, we go back and forth sometimes with the question are we being too heavy handed with political stuff. We were like that song is a great song even though it’s not a political song it’s just a fun song that really connected with us when we were young and that’s how that song came to be on the record. It’s just an amazing song and fun to record and I find you get a different appreciation for songs when you actually record them and learn to play them.

SCENEzine
A favourite of ours from American Fall is ‘American Attraction’ how did that song come about in the writing process?

Pat Thetic
It was right as Trump got elected or possibly the end of the election cycle. It was written as we looked at the craziness of the American culture about the guns and the explosions and the reality TV nature of it all, its hyper-real but it’s not real for anybody and that is what the song is talking about. You know the explosions are real but for us in America we are not affected by them so it’s not real for us and it’s just like how the Kardashians are not real, its reality TV, but it’s nobody’s actual reality so that song was written about the absurdity of the American culture in 2017 and 18.

 

 

SCENEzine
Being an original member since 1988 it must be crazy to think you are celebrating 30 years with the band, how does that make you feel?

Pat Thetic
It feels like 1993 is what it feels like (laughs). It’s funny because people are like how are you in this band? And I’m like well this is what we have been doing and this is what we wanted to do in 1993 and its the same things, some shows are bigger some shows are not as big, sometimes the records connect with people sometimes they don’t. But it is still continuing to look at the world and comment on it and we obviously have gotten better at our instruments over the years and we have gotten better as songwriters and better about talking about the issues and writing about the issues. But it’s still just the four of us in a room trying to comment on the world that is fucked up around us and you say I’m an original member but even the new guy has been in the band for twenty years now so even being an original member doesn’t give me any special authority in the band (laughs) so yeah, everyone has been in it and everyone has been there fighting the battles alongside each other and it leaves me feeling like it is very much like it was ’94, it hasn’t really changed that much.

SCENEzine
With the album coming out you guys are set to do a show in Germany called Punks on Ice, can you tell us a bit about that?

Pat Thetic
Yeah, we are set to do a lot of things but 2 (Chris 2) is a big hockey fan I don’t care about hockey all that much but Number 2 loves hockey, so they are always trying to figure out how to play hockey and music at the same time (laugh) so that’s how that came about. Throughout our life as a band we will usually play a few acoustic shows here and there ya know, just a couple of songs but with the release of this record there is talk of going out and doing a full acoustic tour and just going and doing songs stripped down because it really gives a different connection to the song and the text is put more in the front and centre with an acoustic song and you don’t get a full band rock n roll experience, so we may just go do a couple shows here and there or we may go and do a whole acoustic tour we will wait and see.

SCENEzine
It’s always a highlight at Anti-Flag gigs when you bring your drums out into the crowd to play. Has anything ever gone wrong?

Pat Thetic
Oh yeah, absolutely, that’s the beauty of it it can fall apart at any moment, performance art can be a disaster. I have gotten punched and beat up and ya know all kinds of weird stuff has happened but that’s the experience of it. The reason why I do that is being in a band as long as I have and with sometimes the stages being so big I play so far away from the people at the show and my goal in playing music is to be at the show and to be with the people and when you’re that far away you don’t feel as though you are connected. So when you take the drums in and you are right in there with everybody you get to be part of the experience and that has always been one of my favourite parts of the show and part of that experience is the disaster that can happen at any moment.

SCENEzine
Lastly any news on when you will return to Australia any secret inside knowledge you can share?

Pat Thetic
Well I don’t have any secret knowledge (laughs), but we are trying to put together some Australian shows as for we haven’t been to Australia for a while and playing in Australia is very different from playing any else in the world and we miss that and we want to go back so hopefully we are going to be there in 2019 at some point.

Interview – Chad

American Reckoning is Out Now 

 

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