Today, Anti-Flag released their major label debut, an album which is among the most politically radical records released on a major label in recent memory. Radical politics aside though, it's also one of their most accomplished and solidly written albums and our reviewer described it as "classic street-punk-by-way-of-pop-punk sound incorporating elements of folk, ska and `80s hardcore into the band's already powerful bag of tricks. "

I had a chance to sit down for a lengthy chat with the second of two Chris's in the band for a chat about the major label deal, the politics and more. Our interview went so well in fact, that we're going to spread it over two days. Stay tuned for the second half where we talk about AF Records, hockey and Propagandhi.
Well first of all, how does it feel to have the album done?

Uh, its been about two years in the making - this record, so it feels good to be finished with it, but, I‚??m sure I‚??ll feel a little bit more relieved when it actually comes out. We spent an immense amount of time just writing songs in that period, trying to write the best songs we could write. And in between that we got interrupted by a label switch, and uh

(laughter)

And uh, I‚??m sure we‚??ll talk about that later. And from there it was just a matter of picking the songs, once we had a label, cause we‚??d written up in the early 40s, and probably skeletons of like 50s, so we were pretty, we kind of knew what we wanted to do before we had settled on a label, and uh, from there it was just a matter of finding someone to make the record with us, and finding a cohesive pattern for each of the songs, and that was sort of the bulk of the work. Its easy for us to write, cause this is all we do, we only play in this band, so when we‚??re on tour we‚??re playing music, when we‚??re home we‚??re making music. That aspect of it is not difficult, what‚??s becomes difficult is being focused on what we want to accomplish with every record. I think with this we accomplished it, our main goal and focus was making an album that while had common themes, wasn‚??t about a single thing. And I feel like in the past we‚??ve totally been blind-sided by current events and made records that were only about the now, and I think there are songs that are quote-unquote "timeless" on this record.

Right, so a lot of this stuff existed before you guys signed.

The label that we are on signed Anti Flag, and this is what Anti Flag does, so whether moulding that to the mainstream isn‚??t our concern, and really because of the contractual obligations of the company, isn‚??t really in the company‚??s - they‚??re not allowed to do it,

Yeah I think every song on this record was written pre-RCA.

Do you think you‚??re going to get questions about the style of music being accessible? To me this feels pretty natural, but for some people they‚??re going to be annoyed that the

Yeah now, do you mean pressure from a label or pressure from a person who bought the last record?

I guess both, I could really see you being pulled in two opposite directions.

Yeah, I mean, there really was no label. I mean, the guy that signed us, his name was Matt Marshall, he signed Modest Mouse and Tool and Tenacious D, like those are his quote-unquote "claims to fame", he‚??s also signed a lot of stinkers, but uh, so has everybody I guess. So he was around every once in a while, there was really - we had protected ourselves from the label, and whenever we were going through negotiations with potential labels, we didn‚??t have a meeting with anyone who wouldn‚??t guarantee in writing that we could pick who we recorded with, pick what songs we record, what artwork we use; being in control of our website, how we promote our songs, and basically how we spend their money. RCA came with it and so the sort of knew what they were getting into, just by the contract that they themselves wrote up. So in that sense, y‚??know, it was less pressure from the label, than I guess we‚??ll get from people that buy the records? Y‚??know like obviously someone‚??s going to hear something that they expect to happen, y‚??know depending, on what sort of mindset they go into when they listen to the record. I personally think that as far as the music side of the record goes: there are songs that could fit on any of the records, specifically in structure-wise or sonics, y‚??know but I think that there are a lot of songs, I feel like, for example, a song like The Project for a New American Century, I feel like that‚??s the song that Anti-Flag has been trying to write for a long time, and we finally did it, I don‚??t know if that make any sense.

What I mean is that I feel like we sort of figured it out, I guess. Do I want to try to make another record and try to make a better record than this one? At this point, no I‚??m not thinking about it at all, but we‚??re sort of, much like the Steelers, celebrating the now that we are in, so, as far as that‚??s concerned, going back to your question, people are going to make up their minds based on the ideas and the music that they hear, so there‚??s no controlling that, so worrying about that and feeling pressure and influence is a waste of time I guess.

Have you guys had any sort of, I don‚??t want to say backlash, but have you had any issues with the your fans?

Well I mean, you run the website (laughter), y‚??know, we read it every once in a while, I‚??m not a stable poster, cause sometimes that shit‚??ll bum me out, but at the same time its like, whatever. I feel like its sort of going back to the last thing, like you can‚??t focus on that sort of thing, you have to do what feels right for you, and, uh, I like the fact that everybody has an opinion on Anti-Flag, whether its positive or negative,

I feel that as a band we want to engage people and um, every move we‚??ve made as a band we‚??ve purposely made an engaging move, whether it was leaving Selsun Records which Brian from Pittsburg put out our first 7 inch, to go to New Red Archives which was a west coast label, people were pissed off because we weren‚??t supporting the quote-unquote "local label", anymore y‚??know, that was an engaging decision for us, so moving to RCA, everyone‚??s fucking antennas are up over Anti Flag right now, and that‚??s what we want, we want people to be curious about what we‚??re doing.

We don‚??t want to make records that people are complacent with and like "Oh that makes sense, they do that every time, that‚??s what Anti Flag does", y‚??know? So all the way to the decisions we made doing a Warped Tour or a tour with a band that is not politically minded, or, y‚??know what I mean? Like, we try to challenge the people that claim to be not only a part of the Anti-Flag community but sort of the punk community as a whole.

Um, I mean, I remember one thing, when you guys, this was back in May of last year, a lot of stuff came out about the deal that you guys made, and its pretty impressive, it‚??s a two-record deal, and you a lot more control than an independent band making the jump tends to get.

Y‚??know, it‚??s like in one sense, we‚??re all kind of like, every time we meet with I guess industry run-of-the-mill dude, they‚??ll say things like "how did you pull that off?" (laughs) and y‚??know, bands that we know that have signed have been like "you did what?" y‚??know. I really think that its just - I don‚??t know - we, those are the things were important to us as a band and the only way we would leave the comfort of Fat Wreck Chords, and, going back to making engaging decisions, there‚??s a stupidity level that goes with that too, sometimes they‚??re bad decisions, um, so we‚??ve done tours with bands that we should not have done, because trying to put the people that expect certain things from Anti-Flag and expect certain things from another band - sometimes those people clash. So there have been bad decisions made, this may turn out to be a bad decision, like, I don‚??t have a crystal ball, but uh, we did everything in our power to ensure that it wouldn‚??t be, but uh, there‚??s no right or wrong in this sort of thing.

You guys put a lot of work into the package for Empire; not just lyrics but the packaging, the essays, even some letters.

Yeah

It‚??s a quite extensive project, how do you guys narrow it down, the issues you think are the issues you need to talk about?

Y‚??know, see that, I mean that, as far as an internal criticism of the band, we always go around whether or not we should be more focused, and try to go after one certain thing and try to win that, but at the same time we get criticism from a lot of people of being too abrupt in our statements, so you know its like, you shit in one hand or you piss in the other. Its like nobody is going - there‚??s so much going on in this world right now as we talk on the phone, like, no record is ever going to encompass all of that, and if we focused on one thing we might be doing a disservice to alerting people of other things, so there‚??s always heated debate amongst the four of us as to what will make it in and out, but in the end, specifically with this record, and moving into the new forum and channels of distribution we have, it was very important to us to fill it to the brim.

Yeah and do you think that the political stance is going to make you more difficult for the mainstream?

No, and I don‚??t really care. The label that we are on signed Anti Flag, and this is what Anti Flag does, so whether moulding that to the mainstream isn‚??t our concern, and really because of the contractual obligations of the company, isn‚??t really in the company‚??s - they‚??re not allowed to do it, y‚??know so like I said whether not it will work and we‚??ll become a bigger band because of it - I don‚??t know. And none of us really care its just the idea and opportunity of it that makes it sort of worthwhile. Because if it does happen, it happened on our own terms and that‚??s the way we wanted it to happen.

Yeah I know to expect a certain political sense from Anti-Flag, but even bigger bands have gotten more political. Do you feel like the success of political albums like American Idiot means that the country is ready for your more direct stance?

Well yeah and I mean also comparing Anti-Flag to Green Day is, Green Day‚??s sort of political stance is in one hand very similar to Anti-Flag. I feel from the messages I‚??ve seen them portray, those are sort of life-oriented politics, and sort of being a better person and I think that there‚??s a lot of that in Anti-Flag, but I think what helps, what Anti Flag, what we think helps people become greater at their sort of humanitarian efforts, which I think is one of Green Day‚??s goals, I think educating them is part of that process and we in Anti Flag think that putting information into people‚??s hands that they don‚??t necessarily get from Green Day, is a step in Green Day‚??s direction, if that makes sense for you.

Y‚??know there are a lot of bands that are all saying different things that have very similar goals, and I think that is the importance of, a Green Day and the importance of an Anti Flag, For example if Kid A walks into Chain Store 2000 and buys a Green Day album because he likes political punk rock, and follows in his research and finds an Anti-Flag, and he finds Anti Flag at Chain Store 1000, and that kid searches through the roots of punk rock and finds a Propaghandi at Store B, I think that‚??s an important chain, and y‚??know I think that there are different goals for different bands. Our goal as a band is to get our information into as many hands as possible, and it always has been, that‚??s why we do things like the Warped Tour and do things like sign to RCA Records

On that note, do you guys feel like when you first got started was it that you wanted to put your political feelings to music or was it that the music came first and you kind of felt the politics later?

Y‚??know its difficult to say because I was not a part of the first record but I know the individuals that made it very well, and I feel that when Anti Flag came together as a band, it was under the same guise and spirit we have now, for example the name Anti Flag came from a Nationalist Movement that involved in Punk rock in the early 90s , and you would go to the punk show, specifically in Pittsburg where we‚??re from, and there would be an American flag hanging and the band would play a song in break and everyone would sing the Pledge of Allegiance in a gritty punk rock way, or the Star Spangled Banner, and sort of fall in line.

It felt like the walls of punk rock were now allowing the status quo to come in, and that‚??s where the name Anti-Flag came from. What will agitate and piss these people, make them question their nationalism, or kick the shit out of us. So, I think the messages that we do today are the same as that. We‚??ve just sort of found a higher road to sort of engage people.

We can‚??t help the fact that the four of us grew up listening to the Clash, the Dead Kennedys and Black Flag and punk rock, so anything we do is going to have that - those are the songs we write. We can‚??t help that, I can‚??t write a song like Fugazi, I‚??ve tried, its impossible. Y‚??know.

I really didn‚??t know that things we‚??re like that. I remember going to hardcore and punk shows, seeing the occasional neo-nazi-types, but generally everyone was pretty anti-authoritarian and I can't imagine people singing the national anthem at those shows.

Yeah and I mean maybe it‚??s a testament to Pittsburg and a working class town, and sometimes some of those union rights fall in with nationalism a lot of the time, y‚??know, and there‚??s nothing wrong with that, its just making sure you keep a clear head of what the end result of too much nationalism is, and that‚??s still sort of Anti Flag‚??s goal in why we have no qualms with being called Anti Flag 11 years later.

One thing I noticed definitely over the past couple of years is like, when I first heard Anti Flag, everything was a little more simple, you had your slogans and anthems and it really appeals to when you‚??re really getting into that scene when you‚??re younger and over the past couple of years it seems like you guys have kind of grown up in the same way that your fans have. It seems like The Terror State really kicked off a more mature and nuanced view of politics; much more so than the kind of simple anthems like "Die For Your Government"

Well I will say first on the record that as I, as all of us have heard the criticism‚??s of Anti Flag that you are involved with the band until you‚??re 17 or 18 and then you move on, um I have no problem with Anti Flag being classified as the gateway drug to activism.

No problem. Because I think that young people 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and then obviously our cut-off limit which is 18, have a right to hear these sort of things, and like I said earlier, if they move onto other avenues of political activism and sort of pushing for the equality and freedom that we all care about as members of this political punk scene, none of us have single problem with that. I do think that it is a common misconception that our songs are trite, because we work very hard on them and we put together these booklets and this information, more and more as we get older because we realize there‚??s a responsibility to not just sing along to the chorus of the song, but to get involved.

I hope you didn‚??t misunderstand me there, I don‚??t mean to say that it‚??s trite. I meant in the sense that you guys have grown up in the same time I have, and its like as I‚??ve been ready for more, I don‚??t want to say intellectual but just a more evolved mindset.

Well and it also comes down to, we wrote those songs already, y‚??know what I mean, and if somebody wants to hear You‚??re Gonna Die for Your Government, That‚??s Shit, and feels that way, cause I still do, and I have no problem singing that song every night, because I still feel that those lyrics are still as important as the day they were written, um, we‚??ve already said that.

Right. Yeah I don‚??t think I‚??m getting my question across‚?¶

(laughs) I‚??m sorry so, what has made us grow up? Or‚?¶

I'm thinking about the differences between that song and say "Confessions of an Economic Hitman - there‚??s a lot of nuance in that. Its saying that you can‚??t reduce everything to military and bloody CIA coups but it becomes more complex, you‚??re saying that economics has much more power, dangerous powers than anything else. That is definitely a more complicated view.

Yeah but it also has a chorus that you can tap your foot to, which is important too.

so many soldiers have looked each member of us in the eye and said, when we asked them "why are you going back?" and they answer "My friends are there, and if I don‚??t go back, someone‚??s going to kill my friends."

That‚??s always good.

Yeah, which is, which has always been Anti Flag‚??s goal. We write this music the way we write it on purpose, these are songs we like and feel good about singing over and over and over again, and like I said, we have no problem with people noting the melody over the ideal, but we‚??re going to hit them over the head with the ideal at some time, in some way. So what caused that shift, I don‚??t know, perhaps you know because we obviously have gone through the same things (laughs).

Yeah. Now on the same subject of the album, like musically you guys have definitely gone more towards the classic punk sounds. The thing that jumped out at me the most about the Terror State was how strong the Clash influence was.

I guess, I guess the thing that we all love about the Clash is their caution to the wind mentality whenever it came to the rhythms of their songs. And that‚??s something that we purposely tried to incorporate in this record. There is your Type A punk beat on this record because that‚??s what we do, but we also really tried to push ourselves with the drums and the bass and the rhythms that sort of move you and will help you, not only feel the sort of purpose of the song as far as it is ideally, but feel like its something new and maybe brought back from an older time when you listen to it so, y‚??know its so strange, like I said in the first question, we wrote so much that I feel like we embodied that "we‚??re just going to write what feels good" mentality. We can‚??t help the fact that the four of us grew up listening to the Clash, the Dead Kennedys and Black Flag and punk rock, so anything we do is going to have that - those are the songs we write. We can‚??t help that, I can‚??t write a song like Fugazi, I‚??ve tried, its impossible. Y‚??know.



In that respect we‚??re comfortable in our skin, and um at this point we‚??re not afraid to let it show.

Yeah. Now I‚??m looking at a booklet and you guys are supporting some organizations that want to impeach the president among other things. Can you tell me what that‚??s about because its hard to really understand what they‚??re all really about.

Y‚??know it is, hard to understand completely about. The understanding that I have of it, through discussions with them and primarily Justin who is the point man with the World Can‚??t Wait Campaign, is that they are about building a coalition on paper, via email list, of people who support the immediate removal of George W Bush, um now that includes pushing for congressmen and women to push the impeachment issue on the stature of the war crimes and so on. The World Can‚??t Wait .org is the website of the organization and they have a, I guess they have a good idea and grassroots movement that is, that they‚??re trying to create to be one to be reckoned with.

Their ability to do so sometimes is better than others but they have gained a lot of that goes on between the left and our inability to put our sort of petty difference aside and work together, does hinder us. I think its one of the things that hindered the punk voter campaign, but, there were a lot of people that didn‚??t want to be involved in the organization because they felt that it was ridding ourselves of alternatives in candidacy and saying that it was a Coke and Pepsi issue and you were forced to vote for either Coke or Pepsi.

We as a band made sure that in every statement we did with Punk Voter that we were not supporters of John Kerry and we do not think that John Kerry was the solution to any of the world‚??s problems, so in that respect I think that, that the case in point on where I feel like of more of the bands with more cynical views of the political system and why its dangerous, would have gotten involved with the Punk Voter, instead of, I don‚??t want to name names, cause I don‚??t want to put any bands down but, instead of a band who is saying "fuck George Bush - Vote for John Kerry" y‚??know what I mean, I think that there is a lot of opportunities lost, I felt like us, the International Noise Conspiracy and Strike Anywhere were the only three bands who were actually saying "this political process, this quote-unquote democracy needs to be hijacked and that‚??s what we want to use Punk Voter to do".

Whereas there were a lot of the higher profile bands, the Green Days and the Yellowcards who, their support of Punk Voter was "okay, everybody‚??s gotta just vote!" and there was no education that followed it and I feel that there are other bands inside of our scene that maybe could‚??ve help manipulate that system a little bit better.

On the same note, I remember talking to, I was lucky enough to interview Jello Biafra, and...

He was one of the ones that I felt came with it, for example in his punk voter photo shoot, he wore a Vote Green t-shirt, y‚??know like, that is what needed to happen.

Yeah

I‚??m sorry to cut you off.

No its ok, I mean it‚??s a good point cause one of the things he did say when I asked him why he hasn‚??t done any spoken word performances, and he said "well by the time I record something its already out of date. And like you guys finished this album a few weeks ago, and since then the amount of crazy crap that‚??s gone down seems like, do you wish you‚??d addressed it?

No, I think that‚??s the power of online and the community that you are a part of. The essays will be extrapolated on online, in how current events that are happening will connect to the songs. We actually have already started on building a new website as we speak.

Just to allow people to write their thoughts kind of thing?

Um, yes and no. Um we have that aspect on undergroundactionalliance.org, which is a community-oriented website of non-profit organizations we created that has that option and you can take from the supplements to the record and add to them yourself, but specifically on Anti Flag and forbloodandempire.com we are taking newer essays written by a lot of people that wrote for us, and our view on what‚??s happening and other current events sites around the web and pulling and putting that information onto people who are looking to follow up on what Song A, song 1 through 13 is about.

Right. And no I mean, that‚??s the thing. I really like, I don‚??t know maybe it‚??s a total music geek thing, but I love having a huge booklet, not just the lyrics, which are obviously great but it's great to see something that supplements the album itself. The lyrics are only half of it.

Well, I think that, um, that you‚??re in a small margin of people that think that, but its cool (laughs)

Yeah yeah, I‚??m going to have to send you the vinyl, they‚??re being made now, with the full booklet, cause its actually a good bit more in depth than that. One of the things that I did want to touch upon about the booklet is - the essays, we tried to get as many people who are familiar with the overall goal and ideal of a certain song to write the essays for us, so its not only Anti Flag‚??s view on Anti Flag‚??s song, it is someone who has been directly affected by these issues. Whether it‚??s the author of Confessions of a Economic Hitman - John Perkins writing something for our booklet or a Rwandan genocide survivor from the Genocide Intervention network.net writing a paragraph about surviving that genocide in Rwanda in regards to a song like √?migr√©, which is about ignoring current issues like the one in Darfur and what happened in New Orleans because of people‚??s social status and their wealth status. So that was a big or calculated move to not just have it be our angle, but people who were directly impacted by these issues.

On that subject, are you guys full time activists would you say or are you more people who do this for a couple of hours a day?

Well, I think the biggest way that anyone can be an activist is how they live their life and the choices that they make for themselves. Because people will see them and ask questions about that, so I do think we try to, each of us try to lead lives where - from the things that we eat to the things that we buy, so in that respect I think that that is an activist role. When it comes to organizing protests, we‚??ve been involved in that many times, but we‚??re also a full time band.

So I would not put us in a category of full time activists because it‚??s impossible. We feel that the music that we bring is a part of activism, so whenever we‚??re playing a show we feel like we‚??re a part of the activist community, but our daily routine is not ride a bike to Starbucks and put a brick through the window, y‚??know, not that that‚??s all that activism is, but I think you understand my point its not a daily regiment, but almost because it can‚??t be, like I said we‚??re constantly working on music and to be honest I don‚??t think that we would be great activists, I don‚??t think that we would be leaders of a political quote-unquote "revolution" in any sense. I think the things that we‚??re good at is getting together, discussing certain ideas and putting them into our songs. So we‚??d almost be a disservice if we were doing anything else.

Here‚??s a hypothetical, you can ignore it or answer it, and it‚??s up to you. Let‚??s say that 10 years from now the world is ready for you or Justin or one of the other guys running for congress or something. Would you do it?

Um, no. I don‚??t think so. Like it kind of goes back to the last question. I don‚??t think that we would be any better politician than what we currently have, y‚??know I think that, well that‚??s not necessarily true, we‚??d be significantly better than what we currently have, but I also think that this 9 year old kid I know Truman would be significantly better than us, but the overall answer to your question is no, I think that we‚??ll always, whether we‚??re annoying you by playing on your street corner with a guitar because we‚??re homeless and out of work as a band, we‚??ll always be putting our ideas and thoughts to music, so, uh not at all. But I do think that there is something to be said about local office in making direct change in your local community. I do think that that is something that is really cool. Y‚??know and it would be fantastic to see somebody with a little bit of guster pull off one of those positions, so I wouldn‚??t mind seeing one of my brothers Pat or Justin or Chris do something like that. I don‚??t think it‚??s for me personally.

No I mean it‚??s just a common criticism that people who have I don‚??t want to say radical, well not that anything you say is that radical, it‚??s pretty sensible, but that there‚??s a fear of working within the system, or that its impossible to accomplish anything within the system, is what I was getting at.

Yeah I disagree with that.

That‚??s not my opinion mind you..

We as a band made sure that in every statement we did with Punk Voter that we were not supporters of John Kerry and we do not think that John Kerry was the solution to any of the world‚??s problems.

Yeah well no I realize that‚??s not your opinion. I do disagree with that and I do think that there are people as high up as congress who are working to do good things, specifically going back to the record, Congressman Jim McDermott who we interviewed for the last track on the record about depleted urianium has been leading the charge and helping us as an ally within that system to push for more progressive ideals in legislation and in Congress, specifically his work with DU and then militaryfreezone.org which is an organization that we began.

I‚??m trying to think of when of this year, when of 2005, I know it was in the colder months of 2005, that deals with a provision in the No Child Left Behind Act, which is Section 9528 of the No Child Left Behind Act, that deals with privacy issues of students that go to school and receive federal funding in the United States. Any school that receives federal funding is made mandatory to hand over their student‚??s records to military recruiters, um, under this provision in the No Child Left Behind Act. So in this case what once was a voluntary thing is now being used for predatory recruitment practices, such as looking at students with lower grades than others, and people with sort of a less of a vision of life and going after them and offering them the military as their only source out. Using Jim McDermott and him within the system, we have launched the organization on the steps of the Capitol Building with a press conference, with other congressmen and women in attendance. From there we‚??ve started the petition on that website which we‚??re going to take back to Congressman Jim McDermott and hopefully get this provision of the No Child Left Behind Act overturned.

Furthermore, on the website there is an opt-out form, that the American high school student can fill out and give it to mom, dad, parental guardian and have them sign, take it in to your school administration and get your private records to remain private. Um, so I think that‚??s the perfect example of someone working from within.

Right. Yeah I mean some of this stuff is really troubling, and I mean you guys were around - were you with the band during the Clinton era, or

Yeah

Now..

Shit was way fucked up then too.

Yeah (laughs) but it was at a completely different level, I don‚??t think they were playing with the same deck of crazy...

Y‚??know, I really don‚??t want to do this because I feel like I‚??m pimping my shit but going back to the record ‚?¶

Don‚??t worry about it.

It has to deal a lot with The Project for a New American Century and that overall, how each song on the record relates to Project for a New American Century and this new corporatocracy that we‚??re faced with, y‚??know the government is specifically what For Blood and Empire is about. For those who don‚??t know much about Project for a New American Century it was started in 1997, 18 men and women comprised the Board, the think tank of neo-conservatives that is the Project for a New American Century. Ten of them are now a part of our current administration. Right around 2000, during the Clinton era, they were continually giving him documents or reports of why we should go into Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, the places that we are talking about invading now and are currently, and almost three years into invading.

In these discussions, and this is where the shit gets way scary, they call for certain things like a Pearl Harboresque event to happen to woo the American public into backing this invasion of these other countries. The conspiracy theorist in me says that was September 11.

Yeah, I don‚??t think that‚??s a stretch, I mean, its kind of weird, sometimes I feel like they‚??re using 1984 like a text book as opposed to like a cautionary tale.

Well very much, very much so, I mean continuing with the Project for a New American Century, some of the things that they were calling for are so grotesque, and they were calling for them in 2000 and here we are in 2006 and we‚??re seeing them manifesting and by that they meant more countries that they can easily overthrow, and what are we doing right now, y‚??know. The only thing that‚??s happened is that I think they‚??ve underestimated the rest of the world and the watchful eye of, I don‚??t want to sound cheesy, but the peace movement. I do think that is one, in all this sort of bleak, that is one celebratory thing that we all have, is the rest of the world has put such a watchful eye on what is happening now that we‚??ve sort of slowed the machine down, its not running to full speed of the doctrine that they‚??ve written up. Hopefully that will continue and grow and we‚??ll put an end to it. It is a positive in a whole slew of things.

I agree that all this stuff is undeniably creepy, and there‚??s a lot of stuff, I mean the stuff that is happening right now with Denmark, doesn‚??t that alienate average Americans - the kind of people who might be sympathetic to people in countries like Iraq, or victims in between two powers in a war. Doesn‚??t that kind of turn people away from them?

I think so, and I think it‚??s clearly evident in the way that things are beginning to shift. I do think that we are a world torn right now, um, and the polar split of people is at an all-time high, and I think it‚??s growing every day so it is, while it‚??s sort of comforting, I feel like supporters of the current regime and their sort of evil schemes, the support for that is weakening. I also know that sometimes shit needs to get real bad before it gets better. And I wonder if it‚??s going to get worse.

Yeah. It would be nice to see all this resolved by letting the architects fight it out themselves. Like a nice fight between James Dobson of Focus on the Family and the president of Iran.

Yeah yeah, just like settle it in the streets.

Yeah it would be nice.

I know, well it is a troubling time but everyone needs to be watchful as you do in Canada. You need to be wary of privatizing your education system and your health care because it‚??s on its way y‚??know.

Yeah I actually landed to see that bad news; I was coming back from Vegas the day of the election.

Fantastic.

Well, that was some bad news. I actually voted in advance, but it didn‚??t matter. Things are getting kind of weird, I don‚??t know. Maybe we can change the subject to something that‚??s related to what you‚??re saying but maybe it‚??s more positive. I‚??m sure that you guys have got some fans in the military.

Yeah and we get a lot of letters that threaten our lives as well.

I‚??m sure you do. But can you tell us about any big, like there must be a lot of kids out there on the front lines who can related to what you're saying.

Well I think that, I think on so many different levels people don‚??t realize the - and this is why we are so passionate about Military Free Zone. People don‚??t realize what an incredibly troubling experience that war must be. I think its all cool for us to talk about it, but none of us realize, and I‚??ve never seen looks on people‚??s faces as I have when I‚??ve talked to soldiers who have been involved in war and specifically this current war in Iraq. The last few tours we‚??ve done, we‚??ve taken out the Iraq Veterans Against the War, which is a group started by two, to use their terminology, very brave soldiers who have come home from the war and called for an end to it, going so far as to not going back when they‚??re called.

Y‚??know this is a testament of the times and people realizing what is really going on there, but like I said before there is a lot of people who will write and say "I‚??m a part of the military" Specifically I read one a day or so ago that said "I saw an album and you had people raising a flag but the flag was upside down and here I am in Iraq fighting for your freedom to say that" and its difficult to come back at that because this is obviously someone who feels like he‚??s doing all of us in this world a service, but at the same time he‚??s not in Iraq right now for anyone, except for the corporatocracy that we empowered by, so it‚??s a difficult issue to confront that person.

Specifically, when we go to Germany, a lot of military bases are stationed there and a lot of people will come out and come to the shows and that‚??s sort of where all of this craziness hits home, because to be honest whenever someone comes back, maybe a promoter from a show, or someone who is helping us while we‚??re on tour, they come back and they say "oh there‚??s five or six soldiers out there who want to talk to you". You‚??re like "oh I bet they do" y‚??know, and then you meet them and they‚??re some of the most heart-warming people that you‚??ve ever met, but they are in an interesting situation. The biggest and craziest thing that has come from that is so many soldiers have looked each member of us in the eye and said, when we asked them "why are you going back?" and they answer "My friends are there, and if I don‚??t go back, someone‚??s going to kill my friends."

Wow

Its, I mean, because believe me, I want to say "No, let‚??s all end this, right now." But the guy has to go back now so that they don‚??t kill his friends, and you can‚??t argue with that.