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Interview
 

Against Me! - 04.04.14

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Against Me! - 04.04.14At this point Against Me! front-woman Laura Jane Grace has done hundreds of interviews in support of Transgender Dysphoria Blues, but that didn't stop her from being all smiles and totally engaged when it was my turn before a sold out show in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It's hard to come up with fresh questions that are relevant when your subject has already been so open, but I hope I did this interview a bit of justice and I want to thank Laura for taking time out of her busy schedule to chat. As a huge fan I feel like this interview was more for me than it was for her:


Transgender Dysphoria Blues
has been out for a little over two months now. What do you think of the reception? Was it what you were expecting?

I had no expectations, you know? Itís been cool, we were out all of January before the record came out and those shows were all really good. Then we had February off so this is sort of the first real tour since the recordís been out. Iíve definitely started noticing people singing along with the songs more as theyíve been familiarizing themselves with the music, which is a gratifying feeling of course and sort of what you wait for when you write the songs.

Iím one of those people who loves where Against Me! has gone musically in recent years, but thatís obviously not the case for everyone. Still some older fans are saying they like your band again, with that recent ďHow I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Against Me! (Again)Ē article being a good example. Do you have any opinions on that sort of thing?

Yeah, I did see that article. I try to have no opinion on that though and not have it affect me in any way. I feel like when youíre in a band thatís lasted longer than a second thatís just sort of the way it goes. People like you one minute, they donít like you the next minute, then they like you again the next minute. You canít live or make decisions by those people or by those types of things. Thatís the way I work with bands, Iíll like a record and wonít like another record sometimes too.

Overall how would you compare this record with everything youíve done in the past?

I kind of look at it as a culmination of everything, you know? I mean every record is like that in a way, when youíre taking collective experiences from before and trying to apply them into making a record. Definitely the last two records in particular, since they were bigger production deals being with a major label and everything like that, I knew I wanted a more full control experience and I definitely got that out of it. I donít think this record would have been possible without everything weíve done in the past.

Do you prefer recording on your own? Would you do it again with future Against Me! material or have you not thought that far ahead yet?

Well for me it also came from having had the experience with those last two records where Butch [Vig] produced it and Billy [Bush] engineered it. I felt like I learned a lot through those experiences and I tried to take what they taught me and do it on my own, sort of like saying ĎHereís what I did guys, look, you inspired me.í At this point I really want to do it for other bands in particular. I think sometimes itís a good thing if itís the right person for my own band, to have someone there as a sounding board opposed to the four people in the band trying to figure out the right way to do things. Having someone elseís opinion you can trust mixes up the dynamic and I think thereís something to be said for learning from other people. Itís not like I forever want to self produce or anything like that, itís just that for this particular record it was important for me.

Aside from the obvious death is another theme that pops up on Transgender Dysphoria Blues and it seems to be common on a lot of the previous records as well. ďDead FriendĒ is one of my personal favourites.
How do those songs come about?

Thanks, itís basically just about my friend Pope, he passed away about two years ago and that song is about him. A lot of it is just circumstantial. Obviously I donít want to write about my friends dying, but it happens and I turn to song writing or writing in general just to deal with my own emotions. On the previous record I had another friend pass away so I wrote a song [ďBecause of the ShameĒ] then as well. When you get older friends seem to die and it can be easy to get fixated on it.

Lastly I understand that Against Me! is already thinking about new material?


Yeah, I try to constantly work on new material, just to stay in practice.

I know that when Andrew Seward left last year you released a statement that made it seem like the band might be over after the release of this record. Any reason for seeming to change your mind?

Those are big shoes to fill, we had been playing with Andrew for like 10 years. Jay [Weinberg] leaving was just like whatever, it didnít really matter. But Andrew leaving was a real shock and it made me take a step back to wonder ĎIs everything going to be as good? Is it going to be able to get better? What are we going to do?í When youíre faced with a situation like that where you donít know whatís going to happen, we didnít even have anyone lined up. It was kind of just luck that we stumbled into Inge [Johansson,] but he does a really good job, heís a really unique person who brings something to it thatís totally different. I feel confident saying weíre a better band than weíve been before, live especially, which is important. I donít want to feel like weíre starting to not be as good as we used to be.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 10 of 10
09:23 AM on 04/04/14
#2
Feenucks
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Excellent interview. Really glad you didn't ask questions specifically about Laura's transition. She seems very comfortable talking about it and there are a lot of people who still need to hear it, but it seemed like every interview for the past two years would constantly ask the same questions over and over. This is a breath of fresh air.
09:39 AM on 04/04/14
#3
Jake Denning
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Short and sweet - great stuff.
10:35 AM on 04/04/14
#4
prefix-core
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Great interview, and that one Noisey article you linked about AM! was an interesting read as well.
11:42 AM on 04/04/14
#5
monokit
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great job deb! love the recording questions
11:47 AM on 04/04/14
#6
Deborah Remus
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Excellent interview. Really glad you didn't ask questions specifically about Laura's transition. She seems very comfortable talking about it and there are a lot of people who still need to hear it, but it seemed like every interview for the past two years would constantly ask the same questions over and over. This is a breath of fresh air.

Thanks! That was what I was trying to go for so I'm glad you think I succeeded. I think it's great that AM! has been getting so much media coverage, even the CBC here in Canada chatted with her, but there's so much more to this band than the transition and I feel like the music is being forgotten by some people, which is too bad.

Great interview, and that one Noisey article you linked about AM! was an interesting read as well.

Thanks, can't say I agree with it though. Maybe it's because I was 11 when Axl came out and Sum 41 was the only band I cared about, but that's the only AM! record I don't totally love and I think it's highly overrated. Some of the songs are good, I like "Walking is Still Honest" but overall it's pretty underwhelming compared to everything else.
12:23 PM on 04/04/14
#7
Jaytothesyg
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Great interview! Right to the point, I wanted to read that article you linked to and totally forgot so I'm about to do that now thank you haha
01:56 PM on 04/04/14
#8
absolution
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when you play with a guy who played in both Refused and (International) Noise Conspiracy, you are playing with gold
02:53 PM on 04/04/14
#9
prefix-core
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Thanks, can't say I agree with it though. Maybe it's because I was 11 when Axl came out and Sum 41 was the only band I cared about, but that's the only AM! record I don't totally love and I think it's highly overrated. Some of the songs are good, I like "Walking is Still Honest" but overall it's pretty underwhelming compared to everything else.

Everybody's experience is a different one, I think. For me, I didn't get into them until Cowboy came out. But I picked up Axl immediately after, and fell in love. I related to that feeling referenced in the piece you linked, but didn't have quite the same reaction when they shifted gears. But I shifted gears as well, by the time the band had. If that makes sense...

I had found my spot in the "world" (well, sort of) and was a bit more focused on myself than external factors/things around me. So it worked. But I can see how other people may have felt differently.

I'll say this: The shows changed big time. Not so much even in terms of who attended, but I remember the first time I saw them. They were on a Fat Wreck tour, playing before Rise Against, Anti-Flag, and the Larry Arms--and after None More Black and the Soviettes. That was a CMJ show in NYC, so I doubt all the bands were on the bill the whole tour but either way...When AM! hit the stage the crowd was a sea of balled fists in the air, and there was just sort of this energy that I can't really describe, but that wasn't there in later years.

Very intangible, but there was a shift. I'm not saying it was better or worse (in my opinion, their live shows and songwriting have only gotten better) but...It was definitely different.
08:50 PM on 04/04/14
Jake Jenkins
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Great interview! Made me put on the album for the first time in months. Still solid as hell, excited that new material seems to be around the corner

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