It's hard to talk about contemporary American punk without mentioning Against Me!. The iconic Floridian quartet injected a shot of vitality into the scene with their 2001 debut record Reinventing Axl Rose. Five albums and numerous EPs and seven-inches later, the band is without a label but still plugging along on the road.
"Touring is obviously really important," chief songwriter and guitarist Tom Gabel recently told NUVO. "Any band that's been touring for any extended period of time sees the same thing; we went on tour with (metal band) Mastodon and the next time we came through those towns, we pulled a few Mastodon fans back to see us. If you tour with different bands, you pick up different fans."
After the release of their sleeper hit EP, Crime, the band progressed to larger and larger labels with each release. With each leap, however, the band drew criticism from a portion of their fan base who accused AM! of the unthinkable: Selling out.
While cynical (ex-) fans sought to define the band by its current record label, the band didn't seem to care. "The reaction from our fans was fairly predictable," Gabel said. Following the success of the band's third album, Searching For a Former Clarity, on independent label Fat Wreck Chords, a faction of fans gossiped on message boards about Against Me!'s major label prospects.
The band was fully aware of the situation but refused to be bullied by their fickle fan base. "I wasn't going to base my decisions on what anyone else thought," Gabel explained. "A record label is a record label and bands deal with record labels. There's nothing new about that."
After touring non-stop following 2007's New Wave, the band settled down and recorded White Crosses, a straight-forward rock 'n' roll record released in 2010 to the same deluge of internet buzz and trash talk. Later in 2010, the band parted with the label that released White Crosses, "edgy" Warner Brothers subsidiary Sire.
Against Me! will be joined for their upcoming Bloomington show by "emo" folksters Fences as well as Michigan bar-rockers Cheap Girls. While Against Me! has never stopped in Indianapolis for a show, Cheap Girls are no strangers to our various bars and basements. When asked why Against Me! never found its way to those same basements, Gabel defensively replied: "I didn't think you guys even had any venues."