Fuck the flag

Thursday, February 14, 2008 - 11:00

On January 26, Invasion Day, Anti-Flag opened their Sydney show, with bass player, Chris #2 beginning, "On behalf of all nationalist, racist holidays, this songs called 'Fuck You and Your Fucking Flag!'"

The band played a mix of old and new songs, saying, "It's good to be in a place of friends, who fight against racism, sexism and homophobia. However, the important thing is that we take this message out of here onto the streets."

The band toured Australia on the "Big Day Out" circuit. At the Sydney BDO on January 25, the band declared, "People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be scared of their people. Let's make every president and prime minister scared to death!"

Anti-Flag began their career in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the late 1980s. In the music community at the time there was a lot of nationalism and a lot of "rah rah rah, America number one type stuff", the bands drummer, Pat Thetic, told Green Left Weekly. "We thought that in the outside world that's really fucked, but as part of the punk rock and music community we thought that really was a problem. So we named the band Anti-Flag as a statement against that.

"We are in a world where the powerful, especially in the US are consolidating power and if it happens in the US, it's happening all over the world", Thetic said. "Bush is making it so he can tap our phones, he can torture people when he doesn't agree with their ideas. He can create a military system that doesn't incorporate the normal military and it's all contractors and soldiers-for-hire. These are issues that are very dangerous because in the near future, we could be in a world where it is a police state.

"These are the reasons why we need to have not just people in bands making these statements — it's music that's great and it makes me happy — but we need to see a whole culture of people who are willing to stand up and say, 'You know what, this is not acceptable, this isn't the world that I wanna live in and I won't stand for it'", Thetic continued. "The problem we have is with us being Anti-Flag from the US, is that people are like 'Oh yeah, fuck the US, those people are crazy, we think that that's outrageous that George Bush is such a jerk'. But that camouflages the fact that this is happening in all these places, it's happening in your backyard and we all need to be vigilant and see these issues."

When asked about the recent US presidential primaries, Thetic said that "to have a female president, or a black president, as much as I will happy that the US has been able to overcome its sexism and racism; the fact that anything will really change, that these people are going to be able to make the changes that need to happen, I question. But it will be a slightly better day to have a woman or a black person elected president than a rich, white old dude."

In addition to writing political songs, the band also has an activist focus. "It's very difficult to be at every protest every Saturday when you're in Australia this Saturday and Japan next Saturday and Canada the Saturday after that. It does make it difficult for us, but it is important to us that the activism in our world is not something to do to sell records, it's something that is interesting to us and these ideas are not only onstage, these are things that are exciting to us and that we're passionate about.

"Right now in the US we're also talking about socialised health care. In the US, we're told by the insurance companies and health care providers that our health care would be significantly worse if we get socialised health care. The reality is that a lot of us don't have access to health care at all, so it doesn't matter whether our health care's worse or not. In the end nothing worth getting has ever been gotten without a good political discussion and a good pushing on the part of the people", Thetic said.

"That has been our goal as a band to create music that you sing along to and you're like 'Ah, the WTO kills farmers, that's an interesting idea, what the fuck's a WTO and why are they killing farmers?' And then you're able to go to the record jacket, you're able to go to the website and read some ideas about why the WTO kills farmers and then you're maybe able to read other things that say 'Anti-flag's full of shit' and that's great; I don't care as long as there's a debate and a discussion and people are thinking about what is in their best interest as a people and that is when real change can happen."

[Anti-Flag's latest album, A Benefit for Victims of Violent Crime, was reviewed in GLW #738. Visit .]

From GLW issue 740