Against Me! - Reinventing Axl Rose (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Against Me!

Reinventing Axl Rose (2002)

No Idea Records

This article is part of a series where we discuss editor Brittany Strummer's favorite records I did not know Brittany Strummer as well as many other people in the scene did. But especially when I joined the Punkews staff I saw just how passionate, supportive, and enthusiastic she was when it came to the bands she loved and when it came to all of the people she loved that were involved in the scene generally. This notion only became more apparent right after Brittany left Punknews because filling her shoes when we brought back Navel Gazing to the Punknews community was no easy feat.

When I joined the staff in early 2014 I remember being specifically envious of all the musicians that Brittany had friendships with on social media and in person. I kept thinking, “How is she friends with all of these amazing artists?” That led me to quickly realize that she and I had a lot of the same favorite bands like Teenage Bottlerocket, Cobra Skulls, Dead To Me, Dillinger Four, The Clash, The Lawrence Arms, Direct Hit!, PEARS, A Wilhelm Scream, etc. But she and I shared a common love of Against Me! Amongst my friends, I was the Against Me! aficionado, but when I was brought onto the Punknews staff, I became a VERY distant second to Brittany as Against Me!’s biggest fan to the point where she clearly had an impact on the band. Along with Laura Jane Grace’s recent tweet about Brittany, I have been reading reports that Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers dedicated an entire set to her after the news about her passing broke.

Why review Against Me!’s Reinventing Axl Rose? While this album is an absolute classic (and I’m sure Brittany would agree with me), it is the starting point where Against Me!’s career exploded. It was the band’s first full-length and their first recording as a four-piece and where they really got their style down, which in turn would catapult them into the band Brittany loved for about a decade and a half from what I understand. And really, you can’t blame anyone for getting hyped from such an amazing record. Today Reinventing Axl Rose is a major accomplishment within the folk punk sub-genre and arguably punk rock in general. Between Laura Jane Grace’s signature harsh vocals on tracks like “Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious” and “The Politics of Starving” and anarchist mega-anthems such as and “We Laugh At Danger (And Break All The Rules)” and “Baby, I’m An Anarchist” it’s very hard not to love this album. The mixture of both electric and acoustic guitars in “Walking Is Still Honest” and other songs was masterfully done on Reinventing Axl Rose. The lyrics span from politics to love and even to what the punk scene should aspire to be, most notably in the title track. From this album on, Against Me! would become the favorite of hundreds of thousands of fans as the band’s career progressed. And out of those hundreds of thousands of fans, one of Against Me!’s biggest cheerleaders would be Brittany Strummer.

Back to my question, “How is Brittany friends with all of these punk rock artists?” After being acquaintances with her purely online, I finally met her at The Bunkhouse at Punk Rock Bowling 2018. The show line up was Hot Water Music, Strike Anywhere, Dead To Me, Cobra Skulls, Nothington, and Modern Terror. I recognized her immediately, introduced myself, and we hung out along with her other friends for the duration of the club show. It was no surprise that she was there mainly for Dead To Me and Cobra Skulls. As was I. After hanging out and talking with her for that show, I finally had that question answered. She had so many friends in the punk scene because she was incredibly outgoing, she was very approachable, she was welcoming, she was warm, she was genuine, and she radiated positivity. That’s why. Along with all those reasons, and because we shared a love of Against Me! and so many other bands, I wish I could have gotten to know her better. To those who did know Brittany well, you were very lucky to have her in your lives. I wish could have had that privilege as well.

So tonight we raise our pints of Guinness to you, Brittany. You will be sorely missed.