Ten years after they released the truly excellent “The Terror State,” the members of Anti-Flag are still pissed off. As the band gets ready to head out on tour in support of its latest effort, “American Spring,” frontman Justin Sane admits that, while the album has its hopeful moments, a lot of “American Spring” is driven by the frustration of living in a world that is not far enough removed from the one “The Terror State” was released in.
“It’s definitely an angry record,” he admitted. “I think that there’s a lot of frustration, seeing where we are today, knowing where we could be; looking back at almost eight years of Obama, which I think has really been a failure for working people and the poor.
“There’s a lot of frustration all the way around,” he continued. “I think that we wanted to talk about the feelings conveyed to us by ordinary people at our show. Just looking at what happened last summer in Ferguson, from Treyvon Martin, all the way to the Baltimore uprising.”
Anti-Flag has always been a band with an aggressively political message, most of which flows from the pen of the 42-year-old Sane (real name: Justin Geever). The Anti-Flag frontman is quick-witted and articulate, and not afraid to let you know where he stands on America’s political climate. Not content to toe a party line or to talk in bumper sticker slogans, Sane’s rhetoric includes thoughts on American military involvement, de-centralizing the voting and governing processes and the importance of community involvement and fighting inequalities. The band’s latest album pulls its name from the Arab Spring, the revolutionary wave that swept through the Middle East for much of 2011.
“I think our music for us is certainly a way to vent our frustration at what we see as injustice,” Sane said. “I named the band Anti-Flag because I had really strong ideas about the politics of the nation and the world.”
They are ideas that Sane and his band mates have held for two decades now. And while Sane may throw his hands up at having to look out at the same topics that were bothering him a decade ago, “American Spring” contains the seeds of hope as well.
“I feel like we’re really heading in a direction where there’s going to be a shift in politics in America,” he said. “There will be a chance in how people view the folks who represent them, assuming we even stay with the current, outmoded representative system.
“I feel like there’s a way for us to get away from this centralized system. I think where we’re going to see a big shift is in the areas of de-centralization — getting away from representative democracy and looking more at direct democracy. We can start reorganizing our government in ways that truly represent our communities. I don’t think this is going to happen overnight, but I feel like there’s a current for that to happen in a way that it never has before.”
If it does happen — when it happens — Sane is sure of one thing: Anti-Flag will be there to provide the soundtrack.
“I can’t imagine my life without Anti-Flag,” he said. “When I started the band, I just knew that I wanted to be in a band. Luckily, we’ve been in a position where we’ve been able to make a living, and people do care about what we’ve had to say. It hasn’t even crossed my mind that it won’t be there anymore.” CV