Against Me! — wary, but fighting back 

Ah, the fickle music business. Florida proto-punk Tom Gabel’s reward for making “White Crosses” — his recent soul-baring, Butch Vig-produced masterpiece with Against Me! — wasn’t a trip to Disneyland, but a one-way ticket to the cutout bin. Although the paperwork isn’t finalized, the label, Sire/Warners, has dropped the band from its roster. Gabel is fighting back, with a new outtakes anthology on his old imprint Fat Wreck Chords and a self-financed tour that hits Slim’s for two nights next week.
So this is your reward for making a brilliant, career-defining album like “White Crosses”?
Well, I don’t know if you saw the recent news headline that Warners has put itself up for sale, but they’ve already fired a bunch of people and they’re letting go a bunch of bands. It was really weird — I got a call one day from our manager, and he told me that basically half the people that we’d worked with at the label had just been fired. And when they decided to not renew our contract, at the same time we found out all this other stuff was happening, so I was adamant and asked to be let go. I just didn’t want to work with the label anymore.

How did you proceed? When it comes down to it, it’s not like the label’s an integral part of your day-to-day life when you’re in a band. They don’t have anything to do with you getting together as a band and writing songs. They’re just the physical manufacturing of it. And in this day and age? Hell, anybody can put songs up on iTunes or the Internet, so the label is becoming more and more obsolete. But I still want to have our music available in a physical format.

Will you go with another major next time? For me, everything always depends on whether or not I like the person — you can’t base it off the name of a label. It has to be the actual people that you’re working with, that you like and can get along with in a working relationship. But I do feel a little wary at the moment. What’s most important right now is to focus on writing new material and to see where the songs start going.

So you have some angry new ones? Ha! We have two or three right now that we’ve been playing at soundchecks, and I guess they’re kind of pissed off. There’s one called “Occult Enemies” and one called “Russian Spies” — “Russian spies, they don’t scare me anymore.” That’s the chorus.


Against Me!

Slim’s, 333 11th St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Monday-Tuesday

Tickets: $14 to $16

Contact: (415) 522-0333,

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Tom Lanham

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