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The Weekly interview: Anti-Flag frontman Justin Sane

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Anti-Flag performs at Hard Rock Live this weekend.
Photo: Leila Navidi
Chris Bitonti

Anti-Flag Opening for Less Than Jake, with Masked Intruder, Get Dead. December 2, 6 p.m., $21-$25. Hard Rock Live, 733-7625.

You’re touring with Less Than Jake on the Fat Wreck Chords Tour. What sort of history do the two bands have together? We toured with Less Than Jake, probably, 15 years ago—we did a full U.S. tour—and then we’ve done the Warped Tour together a number of times and we’ve done the U.K. together. And now we’re doing the States together. We’ve definitely been friends for a very long time.

I don’t consider Less Than Jake a politically motivated band in the same way Anti-Flag is. Is your crowd very different when you tour with a band like that? I think people who come out to the shows are attracted to the punk-rock scene in general, even though they might specifically be coming for Anti-Flag or Less Than Jake, and I think our two bands coexist in that same punk-rock hemisphere. There’s enough punk rock to go around for everybody (laughs).

You’re celebrating 20 years as a band. How does that feel? It’s quite an accomplishment. It’s difficult in this music environment today just to keep a band going, period. It’s much more difficult to make a living playing music, so overcoming that obstacle I find pretty incredible, because it’s definitely a struggle. I think it’s a testament to the fact that we all really believe in what the band is about, and we all enjoy playing in this band. I think that that’s really helped to keep this band together.

I really believed in this band when I started it. I don’t know if I believed it would be a 20-year thing, but I always believed it would be a long-term thing, and part of the reason that I’ve worked so hard at it was because I really believed that it was something that would be meaningful. Even in those early days when we were really struggling, the struggle felt worth it to me, because I believed that we were working toward the greater good and that it would be worth all the effort.

Obviously, you must still enjoy touring and writing to still be doing it, but I wonder if being a cause-based, politically active band ever gets exhausting or feels futile? Yeah, I mean, we all know that politicians are crooks and thieves and that they’re all totally useless, Republican or Democrat—at this point, they’re all just corporate sellouts. I think for me it comes down to a personal thing. When we had the buildup to the Iraq War, we played a big show in New York City not long before the invasion, and there were like 1,500 kids at that show and I thought to myself, these are 1,500 kids who didn’t swallow the bullsh*t, who aren’t gonna go out and fight and kill and die for multi-national corporations. So in that respect, we’re reaching somebody, we’re making an impact politically or socially in someone’s world. Were we able to stop the Iraq War? No, but were we able to influence some people to see that the war was a lie and it didn’t make any sense for them to participate in that war? Yeah. At this point, those are the kind of things that keep me from believing that we can’t affect any change.

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