Exit/In Nashville

Wednesday, November 17, 2021 8:00 PM



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Anti-Flag LIVE at EXIT/IN


Anti-Flag is a political punk band, which is obvious from their name

alone. But over the course of 12 albums across more than 25 years

together, they’ve rarely set their sights on singular individuals in

songs. Unlike their punk predecessors in the 80s, who made targets of

Reagan and his cronies, Anti-Flag has always opted not to date their

work with current references, instead focusing on fighting ongoing

oppression and dismantling deeply rooted systems of injustice. But on

their new album, 20/20 Vision, the band is drawing a big, fat line in

the sand.

“We have actively chosen to not attack Presidents directly, either

with album art or songs about certain times in history, because we

recognize that the issues we’re dealing with are cyclical,” says

bassist Chris #2. “But this record in particular, we kind of said,

well fuck that, we need to be on the record in opposition to the

policies of Donald Trump and Mike Pence.”

“This record is a warning to people holding neofascist ideas or people

who are enabling these types of positions, whether you’re outright

racist or you’re enabling racism or sexism or homophobia or

transphobia,” adds guitarist Justin Sane. “You need to make a choice

at this point. What we’ve seen with this White House is that there’s

no grey area anymore.”

Produced by From First to Last’s Matt Good, 20/20 Vision (Spinefarm

Records, January 17, 2020) kicks off with a soundbite of Donald Trump

speaking at a rally. And while just about anything the man has said

over the last few years would make for a fitting sample on a punk

record, Anti-Flag were deliberate in their choice. “In the good old

days, this doesn’t happen, because they used to treat them very, very

rough,” Trump is heard saying over the opening track, “Hate Conquers

All.” “And when they protested once, they would not do it again so


“What I found compelling about that particular Trump sample is that

it’s the quintessential move that he pulls, which is: Say the thing

into the world early, so that when it happens later, people are

already accustomed to it,” says #2, who believes that dissenters like

journalists, protestors, and punk bands are not far down on the list

of those who will eventually be rounded up and detained. “We’ve always

cautioned that if you’re not standing up for the most marginalized and

the most oppressed then you’re not truly free.”

“Hate Conquers All” seeks to dissect the lexicon we use around racism

to hold ourselves more accountable. “The song is a kneejerk reaction

to the idea of Love Trumps Hate and this idea that love can beat back

hatred,” notes #2. “That equates racism with hatred. That’s a false

equivalence of what the language should be. If you’re racist, you’re

racist. You don’t just hate people. It should be considered a much

more vile term.”

Later on the album, “Christian Nationalist” calls out those hiding

behind religious zealotry to mask their neofacism, and the chorus

makes it clear that these people will be held accountable: “We all

know who you are!”

“When you listen to David Duke talk, you’re listening to Donald Trump

talk,” Sane says of the track. “These people hide behind the veneer of

suits or speaking well and the various ways in which they hide their

bigotry, but the reality is that they’re just as bad as the fascists

in the 1930s or the segregationists in America.

“I’m not saying doxxing is OK, but I think it is important to let a

community know that their neighbor is a racist who was chanting, ‘Jews

will not replace us!’ There has to be accountability.”

On 20/20 Vision’s title track, the band takes a deliberately poppy

approach to grappling with a tough pill they’ve had to swallow

recently: Seeing elements of the framework that punk bands like

Anti-Flag have established over the last couple of decades as it is

coopted and used as talking points by the alt-right.

“The roadmap that we created in the 90s, of alternative media and

forms of communicating, was a left-wing strategy to bring truth to

power,” says drummer Pat Thetic. “The right wing has very effectively

taken all those skills we learned in the 80s and 90s and turned them

against the left. That’s been a challenging thing for us, to see the

strategies that we grew up with being used against us in such an

effective way.” And while the newscycle moves faster than ever before, 20/20 Vision

aims to take a step back and stare down the most pressing problems of

our time: kids in cages, the fentanyl crisis, rolling back EPA

restrictions. It’s a record that at once feels both timely and forward

thinking. 20/20 Vision is a work that Anti-Flag hopes will serve as an

immediate form of communication with those who are politically engaged

as well as a document of our modern times for a future generation.

As #2 puts it: “We hope that when someone trips over this record in

the sand of the post apocalypse, they’ll know that there were people

who once stood in opposition to all of this.”

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Tickets available at the door (if not sold out).
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