By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Tom Gabel, frontman for Jacksonville, Florida, punk four-piece Against Me!, has never been scared to speak his mind. He made that much very clear when his band's fans cried foul upon the release of 2007's New Wave. Upset that this, the band's fourth release, was coming out on major subsidiary Sire Records and not on NOFX frontman Fat Mike's Fat Wreck Chords (as was the case for his band's first three discs), fans declared Against Me! sellouts. Gabel's retort? That punk rockers had become "self-defeating" and "close-minded."
Speaking out is just Gabel's nature—which is exactly what's made him such a revered punk in the first place. It's also why he rushed to release his solo Heart Burns EP in 2008 rather than wait for his band to join him in the studio—he wanted to put the disc out in time for fans to hear his thoughts on politics heading into the 2008 presidential election. Fair enough: That disc, much like New Wave, was filled with smart political riffing.
Building upon the Springsteen-indebted punk New Wave and punk contemporaries The Gaslight Anthem stumbled upon a few years back, Against Me!'s fifth release, White Crosses, released last June, backs off a little from the political rhetoric in favor of nostalgia and cultural commentary. Lead single "I Was A Teenage Anarchist" in particular stands as a continuation of Gabel's crusade against punk rockers who have taken to in-fighting.
In many ways, it sure seems like Against Me! is trying their hardest to distance themselves from the movement that sprung them. Too bad it's right up their wheelhouse.