Punk rock group
With their roots deeply entrenched in the punk genre, the band Against Me! has risen to near-celebrity status with several CDs and single releases. In addition to providing music for the anarchic masses, Against Me! has toured heavily since the band grew from one member to four. In a move that signaled their continual evolution as a band, Against Me! signed with record label Sire, home to the Replacements and The Cure, and released their first major label CD, New Wave, in 2007. While many appreciated this effort, a lot of people accused the band of selling out, which is frowned upon in the punk genre.
In 1997, Against Me! founder Tom Gabel began performing protest and folk songs in places around his hometown of Gainesville, Florida. He began adding members and writing lyrics. Band membership fluctuated until 2001, with the addition of drummer Warren Oakes, guitarist James Bowman, and bassist Andrew Seward.
Against Me! then released several singles and toured constantly, and their CD Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose debuted in 2002. Of the album, Gabel explained to Matt Pullman of the e-zine Late Night Wallflower, "That's how I identify myself politically. … I feel like I said it how I wanted to say it." The band incorporated elements of punk and folk, and fans of the band grew in number. Against Me! toured across the country, earning more name recognition.
Following their first full-length record, Against Me! signed with Fat Wreck Records and released As the Eternal Cowboy in 2003. Ironically, as the group grew more popular, many purists felt the group was moving away from its punk roots when they signed with a more popular indie label. Following the CD release, the band toured and put together a DVD, titled We're Never Going Home, which chronicled their experiences on the road and being courted by major record labels. Against Me! also expanded their fan base and made several concert dates in Europe.
In 2005 the release Searching for a Former Clarity continued Against Me!'s evolution as one of the formidable bands in punk music. The CD was met with much fanfare and positive reviews. Steve Tauschke, in an interview on the True Punk web site, called the new release "a measured pairing of hardcore gusto and neo-folk acoustics that retains Gabel's anarcho-punkroots." Against Me! went on tour once again, this time as the headliner. Though their DVD made a mockery of the major record labels pursuing them, one label would not sign a media release form and eventually stopped chasing them: Sire. However, Sire returned and the band signed with them based on their track record of successful bands already on the roster.
Purists and fans were again in an uproar, accusing the band of crossing over to make more money and attain fame and recognition. The group also made an appearance on The Conan O'Brien Show that caused further grumblings from the naysayers. Those who love punk music tend to have anti-establishment views. The artists who perform in this genre are often not creating music to get rich or to become celebrities, but to help the masses stay focused on the cause. With singles such as "White People For Peace" and "Thrash Unreal," it would seem that Against Me! was continuing that (anti-establishment) tradition. Tom Gabel told Matt Schild on the Aversion web site, "There is a fine line when throwing around the term ‘sellout’. It's not necessarily getting big, but punk is commodified. … Industry wants to make money off it." Searching for a Former Clarity did well and even placed on Billboard 's Top 100 Albums list. The band's success led to an invitation to join the Warped Tour and to concert dates across the globe. Against Me! also released their first live concert album, Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live In London!!! under their old label, Fat Wreck.
New Wave, Against Me!'s first release on Sire, continued the rise of the band. Though still overall a punk record, New Wave had a slight rock edge to it that only garnered more success for the band. With this release, Against Me! was under the production of Butch Vig, who also produced the seminal Nirvana album Nevermind. The band followed with a tour and began preparing for their next release. With singer Tom Gabel's lyrics still entrenched in protest against mainstream and the band's innate ability for an entertaining live show, Against Me! should be looking toward continued success.
For the Record …
Members include John Bowman , guitar; Tom Gabel (born c. 1980), vocals; Warren Oakes , drums; Andrew Seward , bass.
Founder Tom Gabel wrote and performed songs around Gainesville, FL, 1997; John Bowman, Warren Oakes, and Andrew Seward joined c. 2001; released Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose, 2001; As the Eternal Cowboy, 2002; released DVD We're Never going Home, 2004; Searching for a Former Clarity, 2005; Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live in London!!!, 2006; New Wave, 2007.
Addresses: Record company—Sire Records, 936 Broadway, 5th Fl., New York, NY 10010. Management—Sabat Productions, Attn: Against Me!, P.O. Box 28, Gainesville, FL 32602. Web site—Against Me! Official Web site: http://www.againstme.net.
Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose, No Idea, 2002.
As the Eternal Cowboy, Fat Wreck Chords, 2003.
Searching for a Former Clarity, Fat Wreck Chords, 2005.
Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live in London!!!, Fat Wreck Chords, 2006.
New Wave, Sire, 2007.
"Against Me!," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com/ (January 10, 2008).
"Against Me!" As the Eternal Cowboy, Scene Point Blank, http://www.scenepointblank.com/reviews/103 (January 10, 2008).
"Against Me!: The Grooveshark Interview," Grooveshark, http://www.grooveshark.com/blog/2007/12/08/against-me-interview/ (January 10, 2008).
"Against Me! Interview," Let's Sing It, http://artists.letssingit.com/against-me-against-me-interview-vft4h/news/256211/1 (January 10, 2008).
"Against Me! Interview," Mammoth Press, http://mammothpress.com/index.php?area=readinterview&pid=156 (January 10, 2008).
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"Against Me! Searching for a Former Clarity," Scene Point Blank, http://www.scenepointblank.com/reviews/633 (January 10, 2008).
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"Interview With Against Me!," True Punk, http://www.truepunk.com/interviews/against_me/ (January 10, 2008).
"An Interview With Tom Gabel Of Against Me!," Late Night Wallflower, http://www.latenightwallflower.com/site/2006/09/page/2 (January 10, 2008).
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"Music Interview: No one's against Against Me!," University of Calgary Gauntlet, http://gauntlet.ucalgary.ca/a/story/5666 (January 10, 2008).
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—Ashyia N. Henderson
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