Anti-Flag declares war to Donald Trump with their new album “20/20 Vision”, which will be released early next year. The group, which is part of the Hellfest line up, took advantage of his visit to France to tell us about their vision of America.
With this new record the target is set and clear!
Chris#2 (bass/vocals): Donald Trump is a symptom of a much bigger problem. The feeling and the fascism that we see around the world. Whether it’s the scapegoating of immigrants and refugees, the attacks on LGBTQ+, people and children in concentration camps in China. These things that are happening are such a new version of the economics. There were war, economy and facism that we used to see with Barack Obama or George W Bush. Now there’s this populist movement that elected Donald Trump and propped up FDA in Germany, Boris Johnson in the UK. This is new to all of us in our lifetime. It’s not new to the history books. Fascism is deep rooted. It felt important, as we moved into another decade to talk about what we would like the future to look like. 2020 felt like we would have flying cars and futuristic stuff but instead we’re fighting ancient enemies. It felt a propos to have this discussion about what do we want to be different.
Do you remember what you felt when you realize that Donald Trump was going to be your new president?
Chris: (laughs) It’s funny that you say that cause I was over at a friend’s house and they were about to have a baby. I remember immediately thinking: “Oh no, what did we do to this baby”. (laughs) It wasn’t a feeling of what’s going to happen to me. That’s the thing with all of us who carry empathy in our heart, all of us who think about more than just ourselves. With Donald Trump our heart breaks for people of colour, for women, for gay, lesbian and transgender communities that are being targeted. You see in America, where Donald Trump won, hate crimes against minorities are way up, suicide rate of LBTQ+ people are way up. That’s because he is so backwards in his way of thinking. It’s made people that have worked very hard to carve space for themselves feel very hopeless. As a band of four white male with a tremendous amount of privileges we need to use the platform that we have to lift up those communities. To try to share some solidarities with people who have this sense of collapse and caving in their space.
Having someone like Donald Trump in a place of such power conveys the message that everything he does and says is acceptable. He has a way of speaking through the social network, without any filter, that makes people who share his belief comfortable to be loud about it.
Chris: If he’s not a white supremacist he’s a racist at minimum. So much of what he does is to show racists that he sees them and support them. History will not look fondly upon Donald Trump and the things that he’s done. Do we really have time and the luxury to wait for it? The people who do have the time are the ones in places of privilege. There are lots of people who can’t sit around and wait for history books to judge Donald Trump. We need to hold him accountable right now.
If we are not reverberating that in 2019 racism or sexism is wrong, that homophobia, islamophobia is wrong… if we’re not saying this on a daily basis, he’s winning. He’s the president, he’s louder than we are. I don’t think that presidents are going to save me. I don’t subscribe to the belief that the White House is this moral beacon in the world. The President carries weight and we would be naïve to think that he doesn’t have tremendous influence in the world. While I know that economic, racial and social justice has always come from the bottom up. I also know if you’re not holding your president in a standard that is not the least bit just, then what are we doing?
Recently, Donald Trump passed a law on cruelty against animals. It’s almost ironic in a way.
Chris: Even with that. They put language in this law so it looks like he is passing a law that is justice for animal but at the same time it’s rolling back regulation on environmental things. I think that’s where the American political train is far off the tracks. The lack of regulation in American politics has reached an all time high. When you see people from the Republican party standing up for Donald Trump, they don’t like Donald Trump. They’re standing up for the amount of money and freedom they’re gaining to make money. It’s a truthfully scary place to be. When George W Bush came into power and September 11 happen they extrapolated on contingency powers of the president. He passed the patriot act with that surveillance programme. Then Barack Obama ramped up that surveillance program a little bit. Because he was articulate and kind of cool people were ok with it. We do believe that lesser evil voting is happening everywhere. I believe in that because I want less evil in my life. Because Barack Obama is less evil there was this belief that his actions less impact people. And then Hillary Clinton does not win. And the new president finds himself with all these new powers. He’s extrapolating on these powers given by Barack Obama to put kids in cages along the border. His supporters will be the first to tell you that Barack Obama started this. I did think that Barack Obama was a great guy and that he would make the world better. I think he’s smarter and less evil than some. Because you vote for someone doesn’t mean that you ca criticize him.
Donald Trump has eradicated all the freedom to have these discussions. In one way, since he’s doing everything out in the open one could argue that it’s better than when the democrats were doing evil shit behind curtains.
When you have such a great enemy, or someone that represents such wrong in the world it gives a chance for the resistance to get organized and fight back.
Chris: That’s true. The luxury of being a band for 25 years is that we see the cycle of bad politics. When people are shaken at their core their empathy is born. Unfortunately, empathy is so much harder to spread than apathy. It easier to not care than to care. It’s easier to be cynical than to be optimistic. When the Irak war happens and you have so many people in the anti war movement that’s a key spike. Sometimes you need the enemy to wake people up. I wish that we could push the movement of progressiveness that we have a little bit further. Barack Obama was elected as the anti-war president, the health care president but then he continues to ramp up war in the Middle East. We did not hold him accountable for that. He continued to support a healthcare industry that’s based on making money out of people who are sick but we did not hold him accountable for that. When he won everybody let their guard down and I get it. It’s hard and you need to take breaks from this never ending spiral of sadness and hate.
In your record, the lyrics are straight forward and the music is catchy, easy to listen.
Chris: That’s by design!
You also have a ballad that’s a bit country. The song is called “Un-American” and we were wondering what it means to you to be an American?
Chris: It’s funny. That song was a real bone of contention in our band. That question was a one we discussed a lot. The song itself is asking a question. Who is un-american? What does it mean to be an American. America is a country built on bloodshed, on raping and pillaging land from Native American. The native nature of American is not one that’s kind. We’ve had lots of struggle with the lyrics. To me it’s more about making a record for today. We can’t erase the history. So when you say you’re an American you are carrying that with you. I felt that this was even more powerful. I am an American, my mom came to the US from Italy when she was 13. On a boat! It sounds scary to me, a guy who doesn’t like flying. (laughs) To see the racism that she faced as an Italian immigrant. And now there’s little Italy this and Italian that. We’re not having a conversation on how to go from A to B. Is it un-american not to know where you come from ? Is it un-american not know the misteps of a country? Is not American to protest and descend? That’s a conversation we often have. The band is called Anti-Flag so we’re not a cult to nationalism. In these times of “Make America Great Again”, “America first”, it’s a good time to question what it is to be an American.
We like the song “Disease” too.
Chris: You like all the songs we fought over. (laughs) That song is different for us. Going back to the we need an enemy thing. That’s how Anti-Flag is written. We rewrote it 2 or 3 times with “you are the disease” and we landed on “we are the disease”.
The line “we are the disease” that’s what makes it powerful and true.
Chris: Thank you, I like it too. (laughs) It was the idea of being in the range of gear and ake everything possible to slow down the machine but also using their verbiage. Rich people call poor people scourges of the earth, diseases of society. To steal that nomenclature back and empower it as ours felt bigger and stronger than saying: “you’re bad and that’s why”. I’m glad that you found that too. (laughs)
We thought that singing songs like “You Make Me Sick” must be joyful for you.
Chris: Yeah. (laughs) With “You make Me sick” I had written a lot of the song without thinking about politics. Then when we played the song people told us that we should call it “Person#1” as it was how Donald Trump was designated. So I realized that people thought I was talking about him. Then I thought that maybe it was but I did not know it was.
Finally, we’re are “RockUrLife, so what rocks your life, Chris?
Chris: Right down the street there’s a vegan Thai restaurant and I went there yesterday. It rocked my life. I had the best time with my soup. (laughs) Also there’s a new band called Grumpster, they’re from Oakland, California, and their record rocks my life.