Against Me!: "I want to play songs that are fitting for the apocalypse"
Laura Jane Grace and Atom Willard talk skydiving, Mad Max and the end of the world backstage at Slam Dunk.
Published: 9:24 am, June 07, 2017
Against Me! are always busy but last year was busier than most. Not content with releasing the excellent ‘Shape Shift With Me', Laura Jane Grace also put out a book. "That time between when you finish something and when you put it out, that waiting is the hardest part to quote Tom Petty. So to have a double one, you aren't able to fully relax for ages. It wasn't until December where I was like, ‘Okay, I can mentally reset now. While on tour," laughs Laura. "There was a real moment where finishing all that I realised, ‘I am mentally exhausted, and I need a break to just take stuff in as opposed to putting stuff out', but you get that when you put out a record anyway."
"Once it's finished and you can't mess with it anymore, it shifts," explains Atom. "There's this time of settling, then it gets released, and it's settling again, and then you start again."
There ain't no rest for the wicked, or the wickedly good though. There's been "lots of amazing shows, lots of touring with bands I grew up listening to and are friends, good adventures, good travels. We were just in Australia for the past two and a half weeks, and that was fucking awesome," and their seventh album has done exactly what they wanted it to by, "creating a bunch of songs that are always fun to play live and have people react to."
As you'd expect, Against Me! have fully booked their 2017. The diary is stacked up until November, with plans still coming together beyond that. "We never have a shortage of things to do. It's a good problem to have," smiles Atom.
"It's a weird dichotomy to have because we're workaholics, we want to tour, we want to tour hard but wait, ‘We booked a two-month tour with only four fucking days off, why did we do that?'" There's no hint of exhaustion though or desire to slow things down. Instead, the band are bubbling with excitement., "I'm trying to have a positive outlook on life in the face of a lot of shitty things happening," starts Laura. "My daughter excites me, my family excites me, my band excites me, making music excites me, writing excites me, reading excites me, listening to other bands excites me, we went indoor fucking skydiving with my daughter before leaving for this tour, and that excites me. It was incredible."
Laura fishes out her phone, assures us that she's not checking Instagram and shows us a video. "That's my kid floating around, fucking flying around like a bat." There's no video of Laura because she found the camera and gave it the finger, which probably rules that out for a future music video. For the time being anyway. "I'm going to befriend the indoor skydiving people and get them to help me," grins Laura. "Someone who worked at Houston iFLY said we could come when we're in Houston and do indoor skydiving for free." The perks of being a rockstar. "Forget about the sex and the drugs; it's all about the indoor skydiving."
Free-flowing and following what feels rights, being creative is something Against Me! can't force. "We don't do schedules," says Atom. "When it happens, it happens and it just always seems to happen." As you'd expect though, so much excitement leads to inspiration and moments earlier, Laura tells Atom she's just written a fucking good new song, and he should hear it.
"I feel like I want to be the band playing at the apocalypse," starts Laura with Atom adding, "It's imminent, so…"
"That's where I want to go musically," continues Laura. "I want to write songs, and I want to play songs that are fitting for the apocalypse. You know in the new Mad Max, there's that person with the guitar in front of the thing, I want that to be us. With a nicer rider and a better dressing room. If you're faced with that, if you want to be the band that's playing at the end of the world, what do you want to be singing about? I want to be singing love songs at the end of the world. That's what I want to face this with. I want to be singing celebratory, defiant songs in the face of the end of the world."
Taken from the July issue of Upset, out next week.