On this episode I have Pat Thetic from the band Anti-Flag, and you might wonder why Anti-Flag are important to me.
Regular listeners probably know that my journey into the world of punk rock began with The Offspring. They were the portal into a world which I’ve spent the last 18 years in, staying curious and walking between the different lands that each specific genre of punk rock music occupy.
But that punk rock journey did not start off political. The first record I bought, Americana by The Offspring, is half party record, half teen angst. It was very much of its time and as a 12 year old boy I played the CD until it warped. I think I spent a good three years with that as my sole musical focus.
I still have that very same CD and at some point along the way, I picked up the sheet music to it as well. In 2001, after Conspiracy of One was released, my first ever show was The Offspring in the SECC, supported by Caffeine and AFI.
Fast forward a year and at some stage a friend of mine let me hear ‘Die for Your Government’ by Anti-Flag, and I subsequently downloaded a bunch of their stuff. I was no stranger to political music – I was and still am a huge Rage Against the Machine fan – but it never moved me to action. Rage’s political fury was righteous but it never rang true for me.
During the download binge, I came across Anti-Flag’s ‘9/11 for Peace’ and it changed the game. For the first time I saw the power of politics in music; I realised that a song can be a powerful vessel for a political message, it can be a call to action. It can mean something more than a song, than a piece of music. It can represent the fullness of an idea.
The power of those messages, combined with the essays that Anti-Flag fill their album sleeves with, was an inspiration to me.
My own songwriting process has been inherently political ever since. I have Anti-Flag to thank for that.
My chat with Pat (ohh, it rhymes) is very laid back, open and honest. He’s a great guy who is as politically engaged as you might expect. Highlights include:
Finding punk rock communities in every country they go to Pat’s enjoyment of the punk community and how the DIY ethic brings people together The DIY ethic of A-F Records and how that keeps them connected to the punk community The difficulty of staying touch with the punk community when you tour so much But also being addicted to touring despite how unhealthy it is for life Making the transition from normal life to tour life and the fiction that causes The meaning of American Spring and the purpose of the album’s message The Ukraine situation and giving power to the people When things go to violence, no one ever wins The population always has to go with a nonviolent way of revolution The great reception of American Spring and how playing songs live almost has no value because of the way the fans interpret Anti-Flag’s music is always a dialogue When Pat realised that being in a band is something he needed to do We talk about the independence referendum Art getting work done is more important or valuable than music that makes you just feel good without a message The problem with punk being overwhelmingly white and male
I was really happy that I had a chance to speak with someone from a band who had such an important influence on me. Over the years, Anti-Flag have fallen away from view. My listening habits went in a slightly different direction. However after hearing American Spring and speaking to Pat, I’m sure I won’t let that happen again.