Against Me! plays the Granada Theater on Saturday, Sept. 23.
In 2010, Against Me! encountered a potentially band-ending hurdle when it parted ways with its label, Sire Records, because the two records the group had recorded hadn't met the label's expectations. Instead, this change has catalyzed some of Against Me's most memorable work, this time for an independent label.
The band made a huge statement with 2014's Transgender Dysphoria Blues, which was composed as vocalist and guitarist Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender and completed her transition. It was an instant punk rock classic, with hummable melodies and intensely personal lyrics about love, death, identity and understanding. Last year’s Shape Shift With Me was also met with positive reviews.
“The fans are very loyal,” Against Me! drummer Adam "Atom" Willard tells the Dallas Observer from Phoenix, where the band is playing. “There are some incredible people out there that are just true fans of the band and Laura’s songwriting. Ultimately, that’s what it comes down to. She continues to pour her heart out into the lyrics. She’s surrounded herself with musicians that are completely invested in and all here for the right reasons. I think that translates to a degree of people want to be around that.”
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Willard is a veteran musician who has played in bands such as Rocket from the Crypt, the Offspring, Angels & Airwaves and Danko Jones. He was a fan of Against Me! long before he was asked to join the band in 2013. At that time, drummer Jay Weinberg quit to join Slipknot and longtime bassist Andrew Seward also ended his tenure with the band.
Willard was brought on to fulfill tour dates and recording work but wasn’t a full-time member right away. “After a little bit of touring and recording, the more we talked about it, we were like, ‘Maybe we should go out, we should date, go steady,’” Willard says. “So we did. It’s been going that way ever since.”
Against Me! began as Grace's solo project 20 years ago, and now counts guitarist James Bowman and bassist Inge Johansson among its members. Willard says the current lineup is in it for the long haul.
Some of the band's changes haven't been met well. Against Me! has always had to deal with backlash, Willard says. After the group signed to indie punk label Fat Wreck Chords, its van's tires were slashed. But again, Willard seems unconcerned about the loyalty of Against Me!'s core fan base.
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“There’s so much fucked up shit in this world to be mad about,” Willard says. “Your band needs to be as good as it can be, and if I like your band, I don’t care who puts out your music.”
Against Me! is on tour supporting Shape Shift With Me, and once it wraps, it'll be back in the studio working on new material.
“We’re just trying to figure out the best way to make this happen long term,” Willard says. “If that’s the right decision with this label or that label. Whatever the move is, you still are making the music that you want to make that you feel in your heart.”
Against Me!, with Bleached, The Dirty Nil, 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, Granada Theater, 3524 Greenville Ave., $24, granadatheater.com.