- by Tom Dumarey
Today marks the release of Anti-Flag's acoustic album, 'American Reckoning'. The album features stripped down versions of songs off of the band's last two albums, 2015's 'American Spring' and 2017's 'American Fall' alongside covers of some of the classics that inspired them. The songs might be a bit quieter than you are used to from these political punks out of Pittsburgh, but it only helps make the message resonate even louder. Which in the age of Trump can only be considered a good thing.
You can now listen to the whole thing while reading a track-by-track interview we did with the band who were kind enough to provide us with some more background information about the songs.
'The Debate Is Over (If You Want It)'
It is time to question the sanity of our society following public figures who fight at every turn to save capitalism at the expense of the planet - the only planet we have! The planet we need to survive as a species. Check out, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate” by Naomi Klein
'Trouble Follows Me'
A tribute to Emma Goldman, a pioneering civil and worker’s rights advocate, feminist and anarchist. At great cost to her well being she dedicated her life to fighting for those who could not fight for themselves. Many of the rights people take for granted today including worker protections and women’s equality are in great part due to the work of her and the people she inspired.
What kind of country do you want to live in? What values will shape us and history judge us upon? Will we be a society where greed, manipulation, lies, intolerance, militarism, and exploitation are valued attributes? Where we value a person based not on their actions but on their wealth and ability to coerce and use others for their personal gain? Are we a society that green lights locking children in cages? That denies assistance to our fellow citizens in times of natural disaster? History will judge you. Which side are you on?
'When The Wall Falls'
Action over apathy. Optimism over cynicism. Compassion over hatred.
The regime of Donald Trump works tirelessly to divide. We must resist and fight back against this hatred at every turn! We stand in solitary with every single group that this vile and disgraceful white nationalist/racist president attacks and scapegoats for political gain. Refugees, immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, women, people of color, the LGBTQ community. You are not alone.
Some people are racists and they don’t even know it!!! They know a black person and they’re friendly with them, “So how could I be a racist?” they think. But then they vote for a man who up holds institutionalized racism at every turn. Where is the logic in that? When you vote for a racist for president, don’t try to tell us you’re not a racist or supporting the institution of racism because you are! Your vote and your choices in life have to be about more than what is good for you so don’t be such a selfish fuck! We’re not going to let you get away with your racist actions. We are here to call you out! Change or be judged for what you are. And if you’re cool with being a racist, then FUCK YOU, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!!!!!!
'Set Yourself On Fire'
Most people grow up not knowing where they are headed. Coming from our small rust belt town of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that is how we grew up. We were running from the suburban vacuum and the empty materialism that came with it. Trying to find something meaningful. We watched a lot of our friends with potential be swallowed up and spit out by society. In the world we live in today this tragic story plays out all the time. The key to beating it is to support one another and watch out for one another. Punk rock is the support system and family that saved us and it is here for you too.
If there was ever a time where the relevance of this song comes into play, it is now. It is darkest before the dawn and the impossible is indeed, possible. At a time in our history where endless hate comes from public figures, the political system is dominated by corporations and their political hacks in office, and with the world’s ecosystem on life support as a result of human greed, it is important to remind ourselves that history is full of moments where society overcame impossible odds. The collapse of the iron curtain and the end of the cold war is just one example. Most people thought it could never happen, but it did. Never give up! Never lose hope! Keep fighting!!!
'Gimme Some Truth' (John Lennon cover)
Definitely inspired by the Generation X version of this John Lennon song more than the original, but that’s purely because of our love of Generation X. You can hear this track’s influence on The Criminals from American Fall. The A part of the verses opening up the B sections. You can definitely hear the round style of the outro in Racists as well. Lyrically, Gimme Some Truth is a timeless take on challenging the powerful and status-quo, and that is the goal of every Anti-Flag track.
'For What It’s Worth' (Buffalo Springfield cover)
This has always been a song we have referenced, it’s a demonstration of the cyclical nature of music. It’s bones live in traditional folk protest music, reborn in Vietnam era protest music. I’ve always loved this groove, it’s made several appearances in Anti-Flag songs... the song Without End from American Spring is an example of that. I would say this tracks influence even appears on American Fall’s When the Wall Falls; the call and response nature of verse / chorus. That is something that I know we were inspired by heavily.
'Surrender' (Cheap Trick cover)
This one may be the most left field in terms of what people would expect an Anti-Flag record to be influenced by. I think you can hear a lot of influence from Surrender on a song like Low Expectations or even Fabled World, both from American Spring. The story telling of the lyrics of Surrender is an apparent influence on both songs, they’re also driven by the chorus hook, using that to hopefully draw the listener in have them be as invested in the storytelling as we are.