Anti-Flag (23 novembre 2005)

Un peu avant que les FLATLINERS sautent sur scène pour réchauffer le Metropolis mercredi dernier, Math et moi avons eu la chance de discuter quelques instants avec Pat Thetic, le batteur d' ANTI-FLAG. Voici un résumé de notre entretien.
- Cath

MATH Last time we saw you guys in Montreal, it was in front of a much larger crowd you were opening for GREEN DAY. Tell us a bit about that experience.

PAT THETIC There was a lot of people! It was fun, we had never played a show that big before and It was outside, which was nice. My partner and I came up and spent a day or so in Montreal, just walking around. It was a nice time.

MATH Your new record, For Blood And Empire, is coming out in March 2006.

PAT THETIC March 2006 – it will rock your ass off.

MATH What basic differences can you pinpoint between The Terror State and For Blood And Empire?

PAT THETIC About two and a half years! [laughs] Um… [long hesitation] I don’t have an answer to that one, I’m too close to it to know. I think that the songs are better, but that’s my opinion and you’ll have to wait until the record comes out to find out whether that’s true or not!

MATH Is it more aggressive? Cause Antithetic To The Cure and [Feminism Is For Everyone (With A Beating Heart And A Functioning Brain)] (from the Protect compilation) were a lot heavier than what we’re used to from ANTI-FLAG.

PAT THETIC It’s heavier, yeah, but it’s not necessarily faster.

MATH What’s your favorite song so far?

PAT THETIC So far, it’s a song called Fuck War, Let’s Party. At soundcheck, we were playing a song called Cities Burn and that one sounds like it’s gonna be a good one too.

MATH Are you playing new songs on this tour?

PAT THETIC There’s talk of it, I don’t know whether it’ll happen or not tonight. The thing is it’s no fun to play new songs when everybody’s like, “ah yeah I don’t know that song, it’s not that cool”; it’s a difficult process to be playing new songs until the record comes out cause everybody wants to hear stuff that they can sing along to and be a part of and if you haven’t heard it yet it’s tough to do that.

MATH While on the subject of the new record, of course we have to speak of you guys moving to a major. So far, do you see any of the advantages of being on your new label, RCA?

PAT THETIC No! [laughs]

MATH Not even in the recording process?

PAT THETIC The recording process was a little different just because we recorded in LA. Usually, we record in Pittsburgh but other than that it was pretty much the same. We wrote all the songs before we decided to work with RCA and we co-produced the record so it was much like our last record.

MATH Did you expect any of that negativity that came up as a result of your move to a major? I’m personally a big ANTI-FLAG fan. When I first learned the news, I got to admit I was quite shocked. And then when I read the official statement you made, I understood what your points were.

PAT THETIC I actually thought it was going to be even worse. We come from a very underground and very independent community, we’re still very much a part of that and we understand why people would be upset about us going to a major. So that was very much a part of our decision - do we want to fight that battle. And we felt that the gains in taking that decision were worth taking the risks.

MATH With the new label, Are you going to do basically the same thing as for The Terror State, meaning release a single as you did with Turncoat, or are there going to be more singles now that you’re on a major?

PAT THETIC It’ll probably be pretty much the same. I don’t put too much thought in singles because I think the record is twelve or fifteen songs or whatever it ends up being. But in the world we live in, singles are very important: People want to hear one song that should represent the whole record. I don’t necessarily believe in that, but that’s what they did on Fat, and that’s probably what we’ll do with RCA as well.

MATH What are the main themes on the new record? Are you dealing with something in particular?

PAT THETIC A lot of the record is about the Project For The New American Century, which is a think tank that Bush, Cheney and Wolfowitz, and a lot of the high players in the Bush administration, were a part of. They basically said that the US needed to take over the world and be the most powerful economic and military force in the world and destroy anybody who tries to get in the way of that. When Bush assumed office in 2000, he put people that were involved and had basically set that process into motion into his government. We are seeing the effects of it with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The idea of the record is that once you go and have an aggressive war, all of the humanity goes away and you have torture, you have killing for no apparent reason and all those other things that come along with it, and we need to stop that.

MATH Do you have an idea of what the artwork is going to look like?

PAT THETIC A friend of ours, Mike Ski, who’s in a band called The A.K.A.s, has been working on it but now he’s on tour. We’re going to go down to New York in a couple days with this tour and we’ll hang out with him and hopefully he’ll have some ideas to bounce off us.

MATH Speaking of artwork, the one for The Terror State got banned in the US – what were the reasons?

PAT THETIC Um… conservative beliefs, afraid of new ideas? I don’t know.

CATH Going back to what you were saying about your new record, do you guys ever feel… powerless is a strong word, but do you guys ever feel that the scales are tipping in the wrong direction right now?

PAT THETIC You know, you would think that we would feel completely powerless and think that everything sucks and nothing’s going to change, but it’s so amazing – and we’re so lucky this way - to go out and interact with people with similar beliefs. There’s so much energy in a room at a rock show… Talking with people and doing interviews and stuff like that, you actually feel like you’re in the majority. It can be dangerous sometimes because obviously you forget that there’s a whole bunch of people out there that want to beat your ass. But I definitely don’t feel powerless, I feel that we are winning this battle. It’s going to take years obviously, but I think that as time goes on, people are waking up and realizing that this is not the world that they want to live in – a world of violence and torture – and that they want to live in a fair and equitable society.

CATH Is ANTI-FLAG kind of a unified voice for all of you guys to get your message out there?

PAT THETIC We do have a very similar beliefs structure. Lots of times we’ll have different opinions on how to achieve goals, but the goals themselves are very unified within the band. These ideas about socio-economic justice are ideas that are important to us whether we’re in a band or not. They are things that we are interested in and talk about and work on to try and figure out better ways of having our society...

CATH …And you guys are supporting countless organizations and charities…

PAT THETIC Doing our best…

CATH … your website is packed with information about everything you’re involved with – how do you manage all that on top of being in a recording and touring band?

PAT THETIC. It’s hard, but we have people who help us out. I haven’t been home for three or four weeks, we’ve been in LA recording a record so it’s very difficult to keep all these things in order. Many times we fail, but it’s something that we believe in, so even when we’re failing we’re trying our best to make things happen.

CATH You guys are from a small town… –

PAT THETIC It’s not that small!

CATH But I think you weren’t actually born in Pittsburgh…

PAT THETIC Well, suburbs. We grew up in the suburbs.

CATH And how’s the mentality there?

PAT THETIC It’s pretty blue collar…. Very much work, and work, and work. It’s not bad. I think that the place that we grew up in is what created ANTI-FLAG to be what it is. We wouldn’t be the same band that we are if we grew up in LA or New York. We were able to be exposed to different ideas because of where we grew up.

MATH Do you remember what got you into politics, any particular events or bands or writers that made you feel concerned about what’s going on around you?

PAT THETIC Justin’s parents are Irish immigrants, at least his father is – his mother is second or third generation – and they were very influenced by the battle between the Protestants and the Catholics in northern Ireland. In my family, we talked about politics and ideas around the dinner table a lot, and those types of things were important to us as we were growing up.

MATH So you’ve always been involved…

PAT THETIC Not to the extent that we are now, but those ideas were important to our families when we were young and important to us.

MATH What do you think is the main difference between our Canadian government and the US one?

PAT THETIC Well, I can’t say that I’m an expert on the Canadian government, but what I can see from the outside, the Canadian government and the Canadian people as a whole seem to be more concerned about people and less concerned about profit than the American government is. People are interested in trying to solve problems rather than trying to decide whether you’re a Conservative or a Liberal. You can have the best idea in the world in US politics but if you’re a Conservative, the Liberals will hate it no matter what and if you're a Liberal, the Conservatives will hate it no matter what. That doesn’t help anybody in the long run. I’m sure that you’re suffering from that here in Canada as well, but in the States they seem to be a little bit more worried about power than about people.

CATH Either politically, economically, socially or on whatever other level, do you feel there is anything that here in Canada is implemented or used to a better end than in the States?

PAT THETIC Health care is an easy example. Obviously, Canadian health care isn't perfect. But it's funny – in the States, we have people who are fighting this war in Iraq and fighting for freedom yet they can't afford health care when they get home. So you're like, what the fuck is that? It doesn't make any sense! You're going to fight for freedom, for people so that they can screw you over and make it so that you can't afford health care and you can't afford to feed your family - that doesn't make any sense to me. So specifically in that sense, health care is an issue that you can point to and say that the Canadian system is more based on the people rather than power.

CATH How about vice-versa, looking at the States compared to here?

PAT THETIC Well you guys clearly have a pussy military! [laughs] The American military will completely beat your ass! Well, when you spend the majority of your money on your army, you're going to have a military that you need to use and you're going to have to find wars to have, so that's always a problem.

MATH You’ve been involved with PunkVoter during the last electoral campaign. People have been pointing the finger at the organization claiming that it was pro-Kerry. What do you have to say about that?

PAT THETIC I am not pro-Kerry, never have been. I am firmly anti-Bush. I feel as though if the only way to get rid of Bush was to put Kerry in, then I am a firm believer of putting Kerry in. However, I would also be a firm believer in getting rid of Kerry as soon possible if that would happen, and put in somebody who would be able to make real change and at least try to make the world a better place.

Merci à Pat d'avoir pris le temps de discuter avec nous, à Dave Romano chez A-F Records pour avoir rendu cet entretien possible ainsi qu'à Jesse Jones pour son aide.

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