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|Origin||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Associated acts||White Wives|
Chris No. 2
|Past members||Andy Flag|
Anti-Flag is an American punk rock band from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. The band is well known for its left-wing political activism. The lineup includes singer/guitarist Justin Sane and drummer Pat Thetic, who founded the band together; later members are guitarist Chris Head, and singer/bassist Chris Barker (#2) who replaced Jamie "Cock" Towns, who had replaced original bassist Andy Flag in 1997 following his departure one year prior. Anti-Flag is known also for their advocacy of progressive political action groups such as Greenpeace and Amnesty International. Most recently,[when?] the band has declared solidarity with the global Occupy Together movement.
Early years (1988, 1992–1996)
Anti-Flag was formed in 1988 by singer/guitarist Justin Sane and drummer Pat Thetic. During the band's early years, various guitarists and bassists moved in and out of the band, including Justin's sister, Lucy Fester formerly of Chicago band Toothpaste. The band failed to solidify, falling apart after playing just one show. In 1992, Justin and Pat re-formed the band with Andy Flag on bass. A 17-song demo album called 17 Songs was released the same year.
First three albums (1996–1999)
In 1996, the band released their first album, Die For the Government, on New Red Archives. Andy Flag left the band in mid-1996 because of personal disputes between himself and Justin. For a brief time after Andy's departure in 1996, Sean Whelan of Pittsburgh band the Bad Genes filled in on bass. It was during this time that Sean was also playing in another band (57 Defective) with guitarist Chris Head, whom he introduced to the band.
In early 1997, Pittsburgh guitarist Chris Head began filling in on bass. In late 1997, Jamie Cock took over as the new bassist, moving Chris Head over to second guitar, which he preferred. The current lineup finalized in 1999 when Chris Barker, also known as Chris No. 2, replaced Jamie Cock on bass.
In 1998, the band released their second full-length release, Their System Doesn't Work for You. The album contained all nine Anti-Flag songs from the 1996 Anti-Flag/d.b.s. split album North America Sucks, as well as 10 new unreleased songs. The band decided to release the album independently, and Their System Doesn't Work for You became the debut release for the band's own A-F Records.
In 1999, Anti-Flag released the album A New Kind of Army on Go-Kart Records/A-F Records. The album addressed topics such as abortion, political corruption, racism, fascism, troubled youth, police brutality, and unity within the American youth. The cover art page unfolded into a poster featuring the phrase "Too smart to fight. Too smart to kill. Join now. A new kind of army." In addition to this, the band had a disclaimer at the bottom of its album cover saying,"Anti-Flag does not mean Anti-American. Anti-Flag means anti-war. Anti-Flag means unity."
Fat Wreck Chords (2000–2004)
In 2000, Anti-Flag was invited to participate in Vans Warped Tour. During this time, the members of Anti-Flag met NOFX's Fat Mike, owner of the Fat Wreck Chords record label. This meeting spawned a friendship that would lead to Anti-Flag's release of two albums on the label.
In 2001, Anti-Flag teamed with punk music producer Mass Giorgini to record the album Underground Network, released on Fat Wreck Chords. The release of the album is arguably the band's breakout from the hardcore underground to a more mainstream spotlight. The album continued to address the issues of fascism (specifically neo-Nazis infiltrating the "hardcore scene") and the United States' foreign policy. The album was the first to contain the now-commonplace booklet filled with essays from historians and political commentators, most notably Professor Howard Zinn.
In February 2002, Anti-Flag released the album Mobilize on A-F Records. The album featured eight new studio tracks as well as eight live tracks of songs from other albums. In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Anti-Flag spoke out against the push for war with the album's title track "911 for peace". During this time, many music stores pulled Anti-Flag's records from shelves, as their music was labeled as "anti-American." In 2003, Anti-Flag released the album The Terror State on Fat Wreck Chords. The album primarily focused on criticizing the Bush Administration's handling of the War on Terrorism. Again, the album contained a booklet full of essays from the band as well as other political commentators. The album contains a song whose lyrics were originally written by Woody Guthrie entitled "Post-War Breakout." The track's music was arranged by the members of Anti-Flag, as Guthrie had never committed the arrangements to paper.
We've been approached by the major labels over the past seven or eight years but we thought we were having an impact where we were. They were never willing to give us complete control. This time they were willing to give us complete control over what we record, the artwork, who we tour with. We won't be censored. If there was ever a time to take a chance to be heard on a mass scale then this is the time. I feel like we've been a voice in the wilderness for too long.
The first of these two albums, For Blood and Empire, was released on March 21, 2006. The album's main focus is the band's criticism of the mishandling of the War on Terrorism by the United States Government. The album's lead single, "This Is The End (For You My Friend)" is featured in the video game Madden NFL 07 and on NHL 07, and strays from the theme of war and back towards troubled youth. They finished their "War Sucks, Let's Party" United States headlining tour in April and work on some side projects like African Well Fund and Start to Finish MS now.
Throughout Anti-Flag's career, many other bands have been added to the roster of the band's own label, A-F Records. These bands include The Code, Pipedown, Much the Same, The Vacancy, The Unseen, Modey Lemon, Thought Riot, Tabula Rasa, and more.
On November 25, Anti-Flag revealed on their homepage that their newest album was titled The Bright Lights of America. Produced by Tony Visconti (of David Bowie, T. Rex (band) and Morrissey fame), it was released on April 1, 2008. The album's title single was released exclusively on iTunes on February 12, 2008. A video of the song was released some weeks later.
In 2008, on tour with Canadian band Billy Talent in Europe, Justin Sane and Chris#2 joined Billy Talent singer Ben Kowalewicz and guitarist Ian D'Sa, singing their new song "Turn Your Back" from their upcoming unreleased album. The two also play on the single version of the song.
In March 2009, Anti-Flag were forced to cancel a series of tour dates after Justin Sane broke his collarbone landing awkwardly whilst jumping off the stage at the UEA LCR in Norwich to stop a fan of another act throwing objects at the band.
Beginning on September 30, 2008, Chris#2 began to post on his blog, that the band had begun to work on their seventh studio album. On December 2, Anti-Flag began to record their record, starting with "The Economy is Suffering... Let It Die".
On March 31, 2009, Anti-Flag announced that their next CD, The People or the Gun, would be released on SideOneDummy on June 9, 2009. The band recorded the album in a home studio they built themselves. On Anti-Flag.com, the first track of the album "Sodom, Gomorrah, and Washington DC (Sheep in Shepherd's Clothing)" can be listened to. On May 1, 2009, the band performed a full set of The Clash covers at Hoodwink in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
In September 2009, Anti-Flag was slated to play a show during a G-20 protest that was taking place in their home town of Pittsburgh, but the promoter canceled the show due to severe parking restrictions and police presence in the immediate vicinity of the venue. However the band continued to personally take part in the protests.
In November 2009, Anti-Flag showed their support to the protesting students in Vienna. They gave a speech at the main building of the Vienna University that the students had taken over and also had one of the student representatives speak at their two shows in Vienna.
In January 2010, Anti-Flag completed a full US tour supported by Aiden and Cancer Bats with various bands filling another supporting slot and local bands opening as many of the shows as possible. The tour was sponsored by Amnesty International, Peta 2, Greenpeace and Innes Clothing (who supported a clothing drive for local homeless and youth shelters). The band followed the US tour, with an Australian tour, playing the Soundwave Festival dates in February 2010, with bands such as AFI, Paramore, Escape the Fate, A Day to Remember, HIM and more, as well as playing two headlining dates supported by Alexisonfire and Comeback Kid.
Throughout mid-2010, the band playing various festivals such as Ruisrock and Woodstock en Beauce, as well as playing the few last dates of the Vans Warped Tour in August. September 2010 saw the band headlining a Canadian tour with support from the Menzingers, which was followed by the European Vans Off the Wall Music Tour in October, with supporting acts The Swellers and Pulled Apart by Horses.
The band made their live comeback in March 2011, while headlining a South American tour with This Is a Standoff, and then supporting My Chemical Romance on two dates in the US in April. In May–June 2011, the band returned to Europe to play the Slam Dunk Festival dates, as well as supporting System of a Down on June 2 in Milan, Italy.
On June 21, 2011, front-man Justin Sane announced that Anti-Flag is working on material for a new album, which they hoped would be to released later in the year, with working title of Magnum. Sane has also announced plans to record a new solo album in the coming future, as he's been working on some folk-oriented solo material as well.
The band released the album, The General Strike on March 20, 2012. The General Strike was recorded and Produced by Anti-Flag at their home studio. The band will be going on The General Strike Record Release Tour with The Flatliners and the Have Nots. They have released a lyric video for the song "1915" which is about Joe Hill.
In June 2014, it was announced that Anti-Flag were to release a new album titled A Document of Dissent: 1993-2013. The album, a compilation of their releases from 1993 to 2013, would be released on Fat Wreck Chords, the band's first release with the label since The Terror State in 2003. The album was released on July 21, 2014.
American Spring and American Fall (2015–2018)
On January 16, 2015, the band announced they would release their ninth studio album titled American Spring, via Spinefarm Records. The album was released on May 26, 2015. Later in 2015 Anti-Flag released a compilation album called Cease Fires which contains two previously unreleased songs from their American Spring recording sessions and twelve songs taken from their 20 Years of Hell EP series. It was released on December 18, 2015. In a 2016 interview, Chris #2 revealed that he doesn't read books. On August 14, 2017, in reaction to the events of the 2017 Unite the Right rally, the band released a song titled "Racists" to the Spinefarm Records YouTube channel. On August 18, 2017, the band announced a new album titled American Fall would be released on Spinefarm Records on November 3, 2017, by premiering a song titled "American Attraction" from the upcoming album on the band's YouTube channel.
20/20 Vision (2019–present)
On October 7, 2019, the band released their song "Christian Nationalist", alongside the announcement of a European tour the following year. On the band's website, the song's meaning was explained by a quote from Justin:
History is full of wealthy and powerful people using religion and cultism to justify policies of oppression and inequality. Invariably, these policies target the most vulnerable in society so that elites can maintain their dominance. Today we see this same strategy employed by right wing politicians all over the world. Just as the anti-fascists of the 1930s and 1940s rejected the fascist ideologies of their era, we reject the neo-fascists of this era. Theocracy is dangerous and inherently anti-democratic because it restricts individual choice and provides an avenue by which politicians can claim a moral superiority over "the other". It gives political cover and justification for policies and actions which might otherwise be deemed morally objectionable, inhuman, or adverse to the best interest of the country.
The website also provided a list of Republican politicians, along with sources indicating that said politicians had accepted large amounts of donations from the NRA and gun lobbyists for their support of many of the concepts that are explained in the quote, along with a list of mass shooting incidents.
Later that month, the band announced their twelfth studio album, 20/20 Vision, alongside the release of the song "Hate Conquers All" and the song's music video.
Name and criticism
Anti-Flag explained their name on the artwork for their 1999 release, A New Kind of Army, saying "Anti-Flag does not mean Anti-American. Anti-Flag means anti-war. Anti-Flag means the common people of the world are better off living in unity and peace. Anti-Flag means to stand against corporate greed that hurts millions while benefiting a handful of extremely rich. Anti-Flag means to fight against mindless nationalism. Anti-Flag means unity."
Anti-Flag's anti-capitalism stance drew criticism towards them when they signed to major label RCA Records in 2005, with some referring to the move as the band selling out. Anti-Flag defended themselves from the criticism by saying that signing to the record label was for bringing their message to more people.
Chris No. 2 and Chris Head are in a band called White Wives. They have released the Situationists EP on February 15, 2011, and released Happeners on June 28, 2011. The band and name was based on the Provo movement and The White Plans.
Wharf Rats, the new musical partnership between Chris No. 2 of Anti-Flag, Alexisonfire guitarist and Gallows frontman Wade MacNeil, The A.K.A.'s Chachi Darin and Minneapolis rapper P.O.S, was conceived on Warped Tour and recorded in the festival's traveling recording studio. Two songs emerged from those sessions: "Oh No!" and "Capital Gains". Both were pressed on a limited edition 7-inch single and released on May 31 via No Sleep Records.
ANTIFest is Anti-Flag's own hosted festival. It took place on May 3, 2012, at The Forum at the University of Hertfordshire. The festival was the first self-established festival hosted by the band, who seek to maintain it as an annual event. On top of headlining the festival, the band personally chose all of the bands who appeared, some of which included other punk bands such as The Bouncing Souls, The Menzingers, Red City Radio, The Computers, and The Skints. The event also had volunteers from organizations including Amnesty International, PETA, and Emmaus providing information and a forum for debate and discussion.
ANTIFest 2013 took place at Backstage Werk in Munich on July 14 with support from ZSK, Strike Anywhere, The Computers and Apologies, I Have None.
Anti-Flag have been involved with activism throughout their musical career. This has included starting the activism groups The Underground Action Alliance, Military Free Zone (a group to protest a clause in the No Child Left Behind Act, which gave military recruiters automatic access to students' personal details) and The Bright Lights.
All members of the band are vegan, and are adamant supporters of animal rights. They have frequently been featured by PETA, and appear on the Fat Wreck Chords compilation album Liberation: Songs to Benefit PETA.
They have been involved in performing at multiple protests, including two in support of Rage Against the Machine.
They performed outside the Republican National Convention in 2008. They were not supposed to be the last band to play, but when officials found out that Rage Against the Machine were going to perform after them, they shut down the stage's power and Rage Against the Machine performed two songs using megaphones.
They also regularly support organizations which include:
- Democracy Now!, the latest headlines from which can be found on the band's homepage,ANTI-FLAG.
- PETA, who were one of the sponsors of their 2010 'The Economy Sucks Let's Party' tour.
- Amnesty International, to which the band donated money from the sale of The People and the Gun, have supported for a long time and who were one of the sponsors of their 2010 'The Economy Sucks Let's Party Tour'.
- Greenpeace, with whom the band worked in order to persuade world leaders to attend the climate conference in Copenhagen and who were one of the sponsors of their 'The Economy Sucks Let's Party Tour'.
- Useless, with whom they sold screen-printed limited-edition T-shirts to raise money for The Kandorwahun project, while raising awareness and visibility for Useless.
The band also showed their disapproval of fracking in October 2013, supporting the Clean Water Mob.
The band's song "Die for Your Government" was sung by anti-war protesters who briefly blocked a road to prevent U.S. troops from deploying to Iraq in August 2010. They have appeared in the 2010 music documentary Sounds Like A Revolution, about new protest music in America.
The "Gun Star" is the symbol for the band Anti-Flag, designed by Anti-Flag guitarist Chris Head. It was first used on the cover of the album Mobilize. It was later used on merchandise. It is made up of five broken M16 rifles in the form of a star shape. Also, they used the O & X superposed symbols on Die for the Government LP frequently.
- Justin Sane – lead vocals, lead guitar (1988–1989, 1992–present)
- Chris#2 (Chris Barker) – bass guitar, backing and lead vocals (1999–present)
- Chris Head – bass guitar (1997), rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1997–present)
- Pat Thetic – drums, percussion (1988–1989, 1992–present)
- Lucy Fester – bass guitar (1988–1989)
- Andy Flag – bass guitar, backing vocals, occasional lead vocals (1993–1996)
- Jamie "Cock" Towns – bass guitar (1997–1999)
- Erik Pitluga - drums (2018–present), guitar (2020–present)
- Josh Massie - guitar (2019)
- Donny Donovan - guitar (2019)
- Steve LaRussa - backing vocals, bass guitar (2013–2017)
- Brian Curran (1997)
- Sean Whealen (1998)
- Studio albums
- Die for the Government (1996)
- A New Kind of Army (1999)
- Underground Network (2001)
- Mobilize (2002)
- The Terror State (2003)
- For Blood and Empire (2006)
- The Bright Lights of America (2008)
- The People or the Gun (2009)
- The General Strike (2012)
- American Spring (2015)
- American Fall (2017)
- 20/20 Vision (2020)
- "This is the End (For You My Friend)"
- "Broken Bones"
- "The Economy is Suffering... Let It Die"
- "The Press Corpse"
- "This is the New Sound"
- "The Bright Lights of America"
- "Close My Eyes/The Ghosts of Alexandria (Punks in Vegas Session)"
- "When All the Lights Go Out"
- "Brandenburg Gate"
- "All of the Poison, All of the Pain"
- "American Attraction"
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- [dead link]
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- "About White Wives". Wearehappeners.com. July 19, 2011. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
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- "Underground Action Alliance". Undergroundactionalliance.org. Archived from the original on August 31, 2006. Retrieved September 8, 2020.
- "Pat Thetic of Anti-Flag on Music and Vegetarianism". PETA.
- "Video: Anti-Flag Will Help You Veganize Your Thanksgiving Table". PETA. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
- "There Is No War Without Warriors: Anti-Flag and Rage Against the Machine Ripple Effect Show at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota". Nowarwithoutwarriors.blogspot.com. September 3, 2008. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
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- "Direct Action at Fort Hood & Resistance Against Deployment of 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment to Iraq | ZGraphix on". Blip.tv. Archived from the original on August 29, 2010. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
- "Anti-Flag - This Is The End (For You My Friend)". YouTube. October 25, 2009. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
- "Anti-Flag - Broken Bones (Official Music Video)". YouTube. June 26, 2013. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
- "Anti-Flag "The Economy Is Suffering... Let It Die" official video". YouTube. January 24, 2010. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
- "Anti-Flag - The Press Corpse". YouTube. October 25, 2009. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
- "Anti-Flag - This Is The New Sound". YouTube. July 19, 2002. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
- "Anti-Flag - The Bright Lights Of America (Official Video)". YouTube. April 10, 2013. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
- "Anti-Flag "Close My Eyes" and "The Ghosts of Alexandria" Punks in Vegas Stripped Down Session". YouTube. July 19, 2002. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
- "ANTI-FLAG "When All The Lights Go Out"". YouTube. May 26, 2009. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
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- "Anti-Flag - Turncoat". YouTube. March 8, 2017. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
- "Anti-Flag - American Attraction". YouTube. October 18, 2017. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
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