“Hi, I’m Tom”
“Like we don’t know who you are!”
Fresh out of playing songs in a bathroom, we interviewed, Against Me! frontman, Tom Gabel. Sat in the wonderful Manchester sunshine, burning to a crisp, we talked about the fans, the new album, the leak and how that affects a tour.
For this one we were joined by our friend Abbie MacDonald (have a guess which one she is in the photo). She’s a massive Against Me! fan, so we couldn’t really say no. Plus you get more than just us two, which must be a bonus.
Ian Critchley: Did you say you’ve just been playing songs in a bathroom?
Tom Gabel: Yeah, I guess it’s for that magazine Rock Sound. They do some kind of in a toilet feature so…*laughs*
IC: *laughs* How’s the tour going so far?
TG: It’s been great. I mean, we’re just over here for a short little run. We did a couple of shows in Germany and we did a couple of those Slam Dunk Festival dates.
Abbie MacDonald: Yeah, we went.
TG: Oh, awesome. Which day did you go to?
TG: Which one was that? I don’t know what day it is.
AM: It was the Leeds one.
IC: Speaking of Slam Dunk, did you have fun?
TG: I did. It was a little disorganised at points, it felt like. There was some moments I thought I was going to be in a riot, but it was fun playing.
AM: Were you there at the Hatfield one, where they wouldn’t let anyone up the stairs?
TG: Yeah, I was at the top of the stairs. It was scary. If a fire had broken out or something, who knows what would’ve happened.
Anthony Barlow: You’re playing a lot of festivals this year, aren’t you?
TG: Yeah, we always do a fair amount.
AB: So what do you prefer then, doing your own shows or the festival scene?
TG: I think that playing venues is always more fun. Festivals are either the best experience ever, or the worst experience: You don’t get a sound check, you’re not on your own equipment so you’re just jumping up there and hoping everything goes well, but sometimes it doesn’t.
IC: You’re a family man now, Tom. Is that making touring harder?
TG: It is definitely a drag being away from home and stuff like that. Technology these days makes it a little easier. We both have laptops and we can chat and stuff like that.
TG: Exactly. It helps, you know, with the small stuff.
IC: Is there any chance of you doing a solo UK tour?
TG: I would love to, but I don’t know. Nothing planned at the moment, but hopefully.
AB: The new album’s out next week…
TG: Yeah, on the 7th here right? Although it’s already out on the internet *laughs*
IC: It was kinda nice of you to give people the lyrics.
TG: Yeah man, I encourage it. If you wanna download it, go for it.
IC: Do you think it’s helped, because touring in support of an album that hasn’t been released yet must be harder? It’s been leaked, so people can be more enthusiastic about it at shows and stuff like that.
TG: Exactly. It’s more fun to play songs if people know them, as opposed to deathly staring at you *laughs*
IC: There’s been a lot of stuff on the internet, over the years, about Against Me!: People giving you a ‘sellout’ label for touring with The Foo Fighters, changing your record label excetera. What do you say to those kinds of people?
TG: I mean, that’s the point, I learned a long time ago that there’s nothing you can really say. It’s not like I could write out this big long explanation that told everybody Like, “ok everyone, here’s the reasons this made sense to do or reasons why we made these choices”, so that people would be like “oh ok, I got the point, Tom. Thanks for explaining”. Everybody’s gonna have a problem.
IC: I was talking to someone about how Alkaline Trio released their own shoe and he was saying similar things. The thing is, if you’re listening to a band on the basis that they’ve released a shoe or not…just don’t fucking buy the stuff. Seriously, just stop listening to music.
AB: Tom, if someone said “we’ll give you a load of money to promote you band and you can have your own shoe”, would you do it?
TG: *laughs* to do our own shoe? I don’t know man *laughs*. Doing a shoe seems a little weird sometimes. We’ve had the offer and stuff, but I don’t know. It doesn’t really have anything to do with music necessarily but, if it makes a band happy, I don’t see any reason to criticise them.
IC: On the subject of the whole ‘sellout’ thing, Brendan Kelly from The Lawrence Arms seems to have your back a lot. Are you guys tight? Are you bro’s?
TG: *laughs* I let him tattoo that ‘B’ on me right there.
AB: That’s awesome
AM: Well done.
AB: *laughs* Who’s idea was the ‘I Was A Teenage Anarchist’ video?
TG: It was mine.
IC: There’s a story behind it isn’t there?
TG: Yeah, I got beat up by the cops pretty bad when I was a kid. I was 14 or 15 years old and it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as that video or anything like that, but it was still pretty brutal. At the time it definitely seemed to be the case. It seemed like a fun idea for a video, as opposed to like, a lot of times in videos you’ll be lip synching along to the song and looking totally fucking stupid and ridiculous. It’s a lot more fun to be like, ‘ok, let’s do a video where I’m just gonna run, someone’s gonna chase me, they’re gonna tackle me, I’ll get up and run some more’, something more physical.
AM: How many bruises did you get from that?
TG: Well I was wearing elbow pads and knee pads underneath my clothes but, definitely, the next day I could barely walk *laughs*.
AM: You said you did forty or fifty takes of it or something…
TG: Probably more. It was like all day long, just doing it over and over and over again.
AM: I think I’d have cried and gone home.
IC: In another interview, you said you look up to Hot Water Music as a touring band. How’s it been working with George Rebelo?
TG: When we all moved to Gainsville, they were the band that were already touring, who had records out and they were Hot Water Music.
IC: Have you been friends with George for a while then?
TG: Yeah, yeah. Well we toured with Hot Water Music in 2002 and then we toured with, another band, The Draft a couple of years ago. Gainsville’s a small town so…
AB: You’ve released demos of As The Eternal Cowboy and New Wave, is there going to be something for this album [White Crosses] as well?
TG: Hopefully, I don’t know. I figure, with stuff like that, it’s if fans are interested in it and want to hear it, we’re happy to share it. We always do demos for records and stuff like that and we’re working on re-releasing some stuff that’s long out of print. Eventually it’ll come out, when we have time.
IC: Do you think Alkaline Trio stole the song name ‘Piss & Vinegar’ because you stole their merch lady?
TG: *laughs* I don’t know, maybe. Fair trade! I would’ve given them every song name *laughs*.
IC: We spoke to the guys from The Lawrence Arms a few weeks ago and we were asking them if Heather [Hannoura] is taller than you, because I thought you were really short and I saw you before and I was like “no way, the guy’s like super-tall”.
TG: *laughs* When she wears heels she’s taller than me.
IC: How’s the bet going between you and Andrew?
TG: Which one, the Blackberry bet?
IC: and the haircut
TG: Well the haircut one’s still going, I can’t cut it until October, but he won’t take me up on the Blackberry bet. It’s boring sometimes on tour, so coming up with stupid bets like that is an entertaining thing to do and I just really wanted to convince him to eat something. You know the TV show Alf?
TG: We had a big, life-sized, stuffed animal of Alf that I was trying to convince him to ear. Just bit by bit over a long period of time. I just want to see if his digestive track can make it. Just a little bit a day and he can mix it with anything he wants.
AM: He won’t even need to know, just put a bit in.
IC: Hide it in some mash.
TG: I just want to start slowly feeding him something without him knowing it, that’s a great idea.
AB: *laughs* do it! Do you think it’d be good if someone made a movie about Against Me!?
TG: I don’t know *laughs*
IC: If they did, do you think Chris Farren out of Fake Problems could play you?
TG: Play me? I’ve definitely been told we look alike before so, maybe. We’re both from Naples to, so…
IC: We spoke to him and I was saying he looked like someone and Derek [Perry] said “Elijah Wood”.
TG: Elijah Wood could definitely play Chris Farren, for sure.
AB: We’re actually making a film, it’s called ‘Dicking Around With Against Me!’
TG: That’d be awesome.
IC: Alright, we’ll start filming tonight!
AB: It’s the second in the ‘Dicking Around’ series.
TG: Can we fuck off down to the pub for a bit too?
AB: Yeah, definitely.
IC: It’s gonna be like Big Brother, but on a road.
AB: We’ll ‘Dicking Around’ with Fake Problems is first on the agenda so
TG: Oh really, so this is a franchise?
AB: *laughs* ‘Dicking Around Productions’
TG: Well the second one’s always better than the first.
AB: *laughs* If Chuck Ragan, Henry Rollins and a shark had a fight, who would win?
TG: I think Chuck Ragan.
IC: Is there any reason behind why you chose Chuck?
TG: He’s just a manly man. I can just picture him chopping wood somewhere.
IC: Finally, what’s next for Against Me!?
TG: Touring, that’s kinda the main thing in the near future. We’re playing in Birmingham tomorrow and then we go back to The States. We’re going out there, doing some summer festivals and stuff like that and then we’ll be back in August for Reading and Leeds and stuff. Hopefully in the fall, we’ll be back again for a full headline tour.
AB: Thanks Tom, that was really cool.
IC: Yeah, thanks a lot man.
TG: Yeah, thanks for waiting around. I appologise for taking so long.