The American punk band, Anti-Flag, has been cherishing the importance of the rock show for over 20 years now.
And while an Anti-Flag rock show combines a lively stage performance with high-energy mosh pit, it also contains politics, lots of politics.
“When we were a young band starting, we thought it made no sense to be a band unless you were making social and political statements,” Anti-Flag drummer Pat Thetic mentioned in an interview with the Valencia Voice before their show at the 2017 Warped Tour at Tinker Field in Orlando last month.
Thetic maintains an anti-capitalist stance on the economy and a leftist view of politics. His political views “can be all summed up with, ‘don’t be a dick’,’” he said.
“We want to make sure people have the right to be who they are, whether that’s economic freedom, freedom from sexual oppression, or identity oppression. I believe that everybody should have the right to – as the founding fathers said – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which is pretty good for a bunch of white dudes who weren’t giving it to everybody, but in theory it’s a good idea.”
Their earlier releases like Their System Doesn’t Work for You and Die for the Government demonstrate the band’s willingness to voice their political views, even if they’re not the most popular, and they’ve faced backlash.
Thetic mentioned that by the time Anti-Flag was touring a lot, they had missed most of the “Bonehead” movement, but they still faced right-winged fascist disapproval at their shows.
“Because we were Anti-Flag in the early ‘90s, there was a lot of right wingers who didn’t feel it was our right to speak ill of the government or hang the flag upside down. So they believe in freedom of speech except for people they don’t agree with. We had a couple times when we had to be escorted out of places because it got sketchy.”
And the hostility didn’t stop at police escorts. Thetic has been punched out on numerous occasions and “a bass guitar was thrown through a wall once,” he added.
Recent releases like American Spring have confirmed the band’s political views and reiterated the fact that they are not afraid to show their true colors, even after all these years.
One of the main focuses of the band is the importance of the rock show, the thing that enables them to spread their message and show people all over the world “that there is a whole other [world] outside of their little town or their community full of leftists, anarchists, LGBT people, people of different races, genders and religious backgrounds.”
In fact the rock show plays a major role in their philosophy as a band.
“We go to different cities every night and talk to people who think things can be different and are working to make things different and so our belief is that there are a lot of us out there that think things can change and our philosophy is that those people are going to be the ones to make change.”
The Warped Tour provides a rare opportunity to bring their rock show to a different demographic.
“I like the idea of being able to speak to people who wouldn’t necessarily come to an Anti-Flag show and Warped Tour gives us that opportunity,” Thetic said.
Anti-Flag has a new record coming out next spring, and though Thetic could not disclose many details, he promised more political messages.