We had the chance to catch up with punk rock veteran Pat Thetic of Anti-Flag on the Philadelphia stop of their Fat Tour. He discusses plans for a future release, working with Fat, and his view on the government shutdown.
You can check out the full interview below.
DS: By your standards everything has been pretty quiet for a while. Any plans for a release in the near future?
Yeah, we have started writing at home and we have about 5 or 6 songs. We tend to write a bunch of songs and then weed out the crap and put a record out, so right now we’ve started writing. We’re hoping to have a new record out March, April, May, some time next year. Well, it’ll probably be the fall. The fall of 2014. But we will have a new record coming, and we are writing. It is just a question of how long it will take us to get enough songs to get good ones out.
You guys have mentioned that you were thinking of possibly putting out an album titled “Magnum”. Are you still planning on sticking with that?
It’s funny, that brings us to a bigger statement that Anti-Flag cannot use sarcasm or jokes. That was a joke by Justin referencing the movie Zoolander, and everybody took it seriously. We are not good at joking, and if we do joke people think we are serious. If you watch Zoolander it was a great movie, and that is what Justin is referencing. But we should release an album called “Magnum” now since everyone talks about it, it would be funny.
Would it be safe to assume the band is back on Fat now?
No, we’ve always been friends with Mike and we love Less Than Jake. There’s some Fat stuff that is coming up but we are not necessarily on Fat. If you wait a couple of months you will figure out what that means.
You have spent this year celebrating 20 years together as a band. Which song of yours do you feel defines who you are as a band?
The song that for me defines us as a band, or is the song that expresses the most of what I think I am trying to achieve as a member of the band is called “Anatomy Of Your Enemy”. It is not a very musical song, and I sing it. But what it does is it expresses an idea that is not readily available in the mainstream world and that’s what I think Anti-Flag does best, is talk about things that are not being talked about by most people. When we do that, sometimes we do it better because we can put better melodies to it. That song doesn’t have a very good melody, but it makes me happy.
When you first started, did you ever imagine you would be where you are now?
No, when we first started in 1993, no one cared about punk rock. Punk rock was a dead art form. So we thought that we would play punk rock because it was what we loved to do, and then we would go off and have real lives. But now our real lives are punk rock.
Have you ever gone back to old material and thought, “What the hell was I doing?”
No, one of the things that is interesting is when I listen to music, I’m always listening for things that I can steal because I’m not a very good drummer. I’m always like “Wow that sounds simple, but it’s cool”. So then I’ll be listening to something and I’ll be listening to one of our old songs and I’ll be like “Oh that’s simple but it’s neat” and then be like “Oh, that’s me”. So a lot of times I don’t remember that it’s us. We had to do some paperwork for something a couple of years ago, probably three or four years ago now, and we had over 120 songs that we had written and recorded, and now we’ve had a couple of albums since then. So there’s a lot of Anti-flag songs out there in the world. Not all of them are good, but there’s a lot of them out there. But when I do hear them, most of the time I’m like “That could be done better” but I like it. I would steal from it today, what I did 20 years ago.
Do you have an album that you would like to go back and relive the creation of?
One of the things we have done since we’re at 20 years at this point is that we went back and picked a couple of songs from each record and re-recorded them in the way that we wished we would have recorded them when we did it. It’s a 7 inch series we released on A-F records. So that was one of the exercises, what songs did we not quite get where we wanted them to be, and let’s try and work them a little differently, or do them differently. #2 played a couple on acoustic and Justin did a couple just him. And they were a revision of some of those songs where we were like “This song is a good song, but maybe it didn’t get the attention it deserved the way it was released originally. Let’s rework it and see if it gets the attention now”.
Speaking of your 7 inch series, you just released the “20 Years of Hell” vinyl subscription series. Are you a vinyl enthusiast yourself?
No, not at all. I don’t have a record player. Format doesn’t interest me at all. It could be a CD or a tape, I don’t care. I’m not into format, I’m into content and expression.
If you could add one Fat band to this tour, who would it be?
Fabulous Disaster, because we need more women voices in punk rock.
In 1999, I believe you guys toured with No Use For A Name. And with the recent release of the Tony Sly comp, I have to ask, do you have a favorite memory of touring with Sly?
Well the story that comes to mind is when we were in Japan and #2 was in a bus and we were in like one of those tour buses, that was not a rock and roll tour bus, but one of those buses where grandmas would sit in there and they have a microphone and would say “To the left is the empire state building”. It was that kind of tour bus and we had just flown into Japan and were all very tired, and #2 grabbed the mic and started saying really ridiculous things. Some of the other guys were like “Hey kid, shut up, it’s early in the morning”, and Tony Sly said “Yeah, that’s why we all started punk bands so we could all be uptight and old”. So that was a good memory of Tony because he had the realization that life was more important than being grumpy and old, that it was about doing things that not everyone was doing. So that was awesome.
Of course you have never been quiet about your political views. How do you feel about the 16-day government shutdown?
It’s interesting, I am happy that some asshole can bring the whole country to a standstill. That makes me happy that some guy who has a belief believes in it enough that he is going to shut the whole government down. Now having said that, that guy is a shithead and has a short-sided view of the world and it is very unfortunate. But having said that, wouldn’t it be awesome if somebody had the balls to say “You know what? We want to close Guantanamo Bay, we think it is unjust and immoral for Americans to be torturing prisoners. We are going to shut down the government until that happens.” That would be awesome. In that sense, I am happy that there is a way of doing that, I just wish that somebody with some moral fortitude would have done it instead of some asshole, who I don’t know what the fuck he’s worried about. Craziness.
Does that leave you with any hope for America?
I’m a little naïve and I admit that, but I do believe that people can see good and can see shit. If you give them enough information they will see the good and figure out the right direction to go. And I am hoping that the more information we get, the better decisions we will make as a country, and a people, and as individuals. We are getting more and more information every day.
On a lighter note, what is your favorite release off of Fat Wreck Chords?
Of ours or any?
Just anything off of the label.
“Punk in Drublic”. It is funny because when we were young kids we were on the east coast, and east coast punk rock is very different from west coast punk rock, so we thought fucking west coast punk rock was sell out punk rock. But when I heard “Punk in Drublic” I was like “NOFX is a good band.” But it is funny because now I know a lot of punk rock bands from the west coast, and I have toured with them, and know all the people and there is no difference at this point.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We didn’t have the heart to tell Pat that “Punk In Drublic” was actually released on Epitaph.
Thanks for taking the time to sit with us, Pat, and good luck with the rest of the tour!