Amongst the confusion and anger that’s threaded throughout Against Me!’s back catalogue there’s a sense of the triumphant. Live, that comes out swinging. “That’s been my approach to songwriting in general,” starts Laura Jane Grace. “Lyrically if you’re dealing with something dark and pair it with music that’s catchy and makes people want to have a good time, you’re taking something negative and turning it into a positive. That’s both liberating and cathartic.”
Six songs into their recently released live album ’23 Live Sex Acts’, Against Me! stop playing and defend a fan from security. It’s inclusion, thought not technically necessary, serves a powerful purpose and was handpicked for a reason. “It was real and it happened,” Laura explains. “We wanted to have that be represented. There’s other songs where people jump up and sing into the mic and they’re not in key, maybe they don’t even know the words but that’s what happens at shows. There is that element of chaos and things come to a crashing halt. I wanted it to be true to that.”
“Being a role model, it’s has never really been about that for me,” Laura ventures. “Being accessible, open, honest, truthful and talking about what’s real to you is more important. To sing about your emotions is a political thing and that feels more real. I’m always going to be anti-war. I still consider myself an anarchist and still identify as an anarchist politically. Those bigger global issues will always mean something to me and I’ll always feel the need to voice my thoughts about them but often it feels more real just thinking about how you feel in relation to the world.”
“It’s just being unable to affect a change apart from singing a protest song and realising if you do want to make a change in the world, you do need to start with yourself. If you make yourself a better person, that can extend to other things.”
Against Me! have shows booked throughout September but the band are “going to start recording in between and then we’ll be recording all of October. We’ll see if we’re done and if we’re not, we’ll take a short break and get back into it in the New Year,” says Laura, proving the band are eager to start that next chapter. “We’ve been writing all tour. Musically, they’re songs that are fun to play. It’s about wanting to have fun. I’ve always wanted to have fun but this feels different, not caring what other people fucking think.”
After Against Me! are done recording, they’re just going to roll with whatever comes next. “It’s not like I have a list but I don’t feel done,” states Laura. “Half the band is new so there are very real reasons why it feels new. It feels like there are new things you could do musically or you haven’t reached your full potential as a four piece based on everyone’s musical abilities. In the past there were moments where I felt the four of us couldn’t do anything more interesting but now there’s that much more to work with. It’s more of a challenging thing as well. Playing with Atom and Inge, they are amazing musicians so when they came into the band, James and I were like ‘Fuck, better pick up our game and practice a bit’. Feeling challenged by the people you’re playing with is a big thing,” says Laura excited by the future.