Sometimes I look back on my life and thank God that I discovered Anti-Flag as an impressionable teenager.
What if I had accidentally gotten into Phish or Insane Clown Posse instead? Who knows where I'd be today.
The first Anti-Flag song I ever heard was their infamous anthem, "Die For The Government." As the opening a cappella blast of the chorus ("You've gotta die / gotta die / gotta die for the government?/ Die for your country? / That's shit!") rushed through my ears, I was blown away by the conviction of such a message. In an era filled with unlistenable boy bands and insufferable numetal, Anti-Flag's righteous mix of hardcore and street punk, plus infectious hooks was a breath of fresh air.
Anti-Flag's music was always politically inspiring to me but it was their 2003 album, The Terror State that really put the political landscape of America into perspective for me. The band, featuring Justin Sane, Chris #2, Chris Head and Pat Thetic, is in the midst of a winter tour to commemorate the breakthrough album, and to reflect on the changes (or lack thereof) in American politics since its release. That tour includes a stop in Indy on Friday with Such Gold, The Homeless Gospel Choir and Foreveratlast.
"It's less of a numerical anniversary, and more of a political anniversary. Looking back at the similarities of 2003 and 2015 with ISIS and increased militarism in the Middle East," Anti-Flag bassist Chris #2 said in a interview before the Indianapolis date.
Chris #2 reminds us: when The Terror State was initially released, George W. Bush had just started dubious wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and was on the cusp of running for re-election. Flash forward to 2015: Barack Obama is still engaged in constant military operations in the Middle East.
"We were all optimistic when Obama was elected. He talked about closing Guantanamo and troop withdrawals," Chris #2 said. "And here we are today. Obama's foreign policy is in lockstep with the previous administration. Talk about Coke and Pepsi elections! The differences between Democrats and Republicans are so slim."
While Anti-Flags songs often allude to socialist, leftist and anarchist beliefs, they aren't afraid to collaborate with more traditional figures to obtain common goals. In 2006, following the release of their fifth album, For Blood And Empire, Anti-Flag collaborated with Seattle Congressman Jim McDermott to push for more scrutiny of the No Child Left Behind Act as well as proposing a bill to raise awareness about the effects of depleted uranium.
"Jim first took notice of us because of our voter-registration work around the 2004 election," Chris #2 said. "He was really interested in working with us on depleted uranium and No Child Left Behind. He actually talked about us on the floor of Congress. We got an official tour of the Capitol. It was cool but we sure got some funny looks."
"At the end of the day," Chris #2 said, "We just want to bring people together regardless of whether they are black or white, gay or straight, or male or female. So if a politician is working for the same goals, we don't mind working with them."
The last time Anti-Flag played in Indianapolis was in October 2003 to celebrate the release of The Terror State. They'll play that album in its entirety at Friday's show.
"Obviously, we're excited to be coming back." Chris #2 said. "We don't really have an excuse for not having come back since then other than that we're lazy. We're really hoping that this show will get us back in touch with Indianapolis."