INTERVIEW: Anti-Flag – Groezrock 2017

Pat Thetic (drummer) from Anti-Flag took some time out to talk to us about politics, veganism and koi ponds at Groezrock, last weekend.

Nice to meet you! I heard you do a great charity festival?

We do one in Nottingham for Macmillan Cancer Support – it’s really growing bigger and better every year. There is a second date also in Bristol.

I’m really impressed about how proactive you are, I just wanna hear all about it – how you guys are making shit happen! It’s awesome, I wanna interview you two.

Maybe we should swap roles?

Sounds great!

[Getting back on track..]

Your music is known for being politically charged and you’ve been subject to some censorship – a decade ago your records were pulled for being ‘Anti-American’.

Yeah, it’s mad that I feel we’re back to this – didn’t they learn 50 years ago that censorship is a bad thing?

It’s a huge issue for politics right now. How important do you think it is for public figures to use their voice for change?

It’s not my job to tell anyone else how to do their thing. It’s very important for me, but I can only speak for me. When we were young, we weren’t taught about things like veganism and how it impacts the world. We weren’t taught about political prisoners in school, or anywhere else. The only place we found out about these ideas was at rock shows! Educating ourselves through talking to kids at shows and understanding their ideas.

It’s important that we talk about them, because if we’re not talking about them, then the Donald Trumps of the world, The Fox News’s is going to tell us we don’t need to worry about censorship and the police are always doing the right thing – all these things fall in line and we shouldn’t question it. It’s not good for anybody – we need to make sure we help the next generation, older people need to stand up for causes; free speech, gay and lesbian rights, trans rights – all of those things and make sure people realise we need to be wo we are. The weirdos of the world. That includes me!

Your lyrics have made a huge impact and a lot were inspired by the Obama administration. Has the inauguration of Trump continued to influence your writing?

We’re working on the record right now, we’ve written some songs due for recording when we get back. It’s interesting because Obama did a lot of things he didn’t talk about – it’s just Trump is doing a lot of things he is talking about, and a lot of them are the same. Trump’s very proud of blowing people up with bombs and drones. Obama downplayed it – they were both doing it, it’s just Trump wants to celebrate it. Obama was deporting a lot of people as well. Trump is doing the same thing, it’s just he’s talking about how great it is. I don’t think we should be deporting anybody. A border is a line on a map – it doesn’t define who you are, no matter what side of it you’re on you should be allowed the same rights.

We saw you guys played a show near Paris last night – with tensions high it’s great to see you guys making a stand against Islamophobia. How important is it that music strives to bring the affected communities together?

It’s not a musician’s job to do that, but it’s important to us as people. The fear-peddling by people in power, to increase their power, is destructive to all of us. There is a very miniscule chance anything will happen to us because of a terrorist attack. They’re fucked up – they’re not helping anybody. They’re done by religious extremists who are shitty people.

Having said all that, people in power retain it by striking fear in us by making us afraid of our neighbours – say, if people are brown or have a beard. They love that, they eat it up. The more afraid we are, the more power they have, and the more they can get us to do what they want. We need to get rid of the fear, learn to live life without it, as we’re better off not afraid.

If you could recommend any voices we should be listening to – who would it be?

In the states, we had Bernie Sanders who ran for president and talked about issues very well. Dennis Kucinich and the Black Lives Matter movement. I don’t know a lot about the UK – I know Boris Johnson is a penis and Theresa May’s pretty shitty so don’t listen to that. That’s all I can say, they’re the ones I know you shouldn’t be listening to!

Do you think your career has stood the test of time due to your commitment to activism?

The reason we’ve had a long and thriving career is because we’re not stupid. We’re smart enough to not stay home – we just do it. There is an addiction for us to go out and play shows. We’ll play shows to 10 people or 100,000 people. It’s really not down to anything else – we just play a lot of shows!

We’ve seen the Anti-Flag vegan stand selling a new take on pulled-pork. Can you tell us more about it?

We believe in the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle and we feel it’s really important. ‘Just Like Your Mom’s’ catering brought it along and we’re fully supportive of what they’re doing. Even if you can’t rid of meat or dairy in your life, things like this make a change – to the animals being enslaved and the environment. The stall is raising money for the Hardcore Help foundation.

We’ve spoken about Macmillan Fest and know you guys do something similar. What’s the future for Anti-Fest?

It’s hard to get all of the bands we love to come along and play a show at the same time. We’re working on making it happen, but it’s hard logistically. We’re looking to do one in the US and hopefully in Europe.

Talking of trips to Europe, we heard you’ve avoided the UK a little as we tried to kill you off last time! Are you planning to return?

Yes!! We’d absolutely come back to the UK and Norwich, we won’t let that put us off!

Great to hear! You’ve just released ‘Live Vol 1’ and we’re excited to hear your future releases. But when you’re not in the studio what do you do to rejuvenate your creativity?

We live our lives to rejuvenate our creativity. In 2017 there’s so much to inspire what we do – from a television star being elected president to the refugee crisis in North Korea and the US trying to stop missile launches. We’ll release volume 2 soon, and in the fall album 2 will likely be on its way!

If you had to get creative with a genre switch, what would you write?

Definitely Polka – I love the Eastern European vibe to it, we’d absolutely go for it.

Finally – What’s one question never been asked?

Erm.. Why do I love Koi ponds so much!?

They’re amazing. I’m in the process of moving and had to tear down my Koi pond, I miss sitting and watching them. They eat out of my hand and everything, they’re awesome. They’re my little buddies. For a guy who tours away from home 6 to 8 months a year, a Koi pond is a really great pet. They have personalities and became my friends – it’s a lot of fun having a koi pond.

Find out more about ANTI-FLAG on Facebook // Official Website // Instagram // Twitter

Interview by Hannah Smith.