The story of the band (any band) that couldn’t get back their back from the major label that refused to release it is pretty much a music journalism cliché at this point. Unfortunately it happens all the time. Some petty label reps would rather lock the tapes in a warehouse than hand them back to the bands that actually created the music.
Fortunately for the guys in Against Me!, they were not only lucky enough to get a label to put their record out, but the label (Sire/Warner Bros.) actually handed the album back when the two decided to part ways. Not that the split was completely amicable, the label did vow to track down and destroy every unsold album.
That led to the band re-releasing 2010’s White Crosses as a double album. That led to the creation of the band’s own label Treble Music and that means that a major label can actually be credited for helping the punk rock community for once.
Front man Tom Gabel spoke recently about the situation.
Innocent Words: What made you decide to re-release White Crosses?
Tom Gabel: When we left Sire/Warner they gave us the album back; just handed over all of the assets, everything, which was amazing of them. But, consequently, that meant they were also going to destroy all of the copies they manufactured, literally send recall notices to all of the stores that had any copies in stock and throw them in the trash. At the time the album had only been out for like six or seven months, we still had a year of touring planned in support of the album, which we had spent like two years making. We worked hard on the album. We want it to still be available for people. Plus we had a lot of material we recorded when making the album that had never been heard. And then there was also all of the artwork that Chris Norris had made for the album that Warner originally shot down. Re-issuing gave us the chance to do it the way we had originally intended for the album to be presented.
IW: Had you been planning the Black Crosses album (second CD) all along?
Gabel: Well, we started planning it the second we knew we were getting the album back. The name Black Crosses was actually a fan suggestion, I liked it.
IW: Can you talk a little about the new label? How long had you had the idea of launching it?
Gabel: We didn’t know what we were going to do after we got out of our contract with Warner. We had some labels approach us, we were considering the options but nothing was making me really excited. Starting our own label seemed like the most original direction we could head in.
IW: Do you plan on eventually signing other bands?
Gabel: Definitely. Hopefully we’ll be making some announcements concerning that very soon.
IW: Is running your own label easier or harder than you thought it would be?
Gabel: We’re just getting started really. Ask me this question again in a year or two.
IW: You’ve just finished a pretty big tour. Aside from Fest, do you have any others shows planned this year?
Gabel: Other than going to Europe in November we’re pretty much done touring for a second. I’ve spent the past month building a studio in Florida, we’re going to record the next Against Me! album there but first, in October I’m producing and recording the new Cheap Girls album there. I want to focus on recording for the time being, take a break from the road.
IW: Have you started writing new music yet?
Gabel: Yes, for sure, I write constantly.
IW: I read somewhere that you plan to put out an album a year? Is that correct?
Gabel: I want to do more than that. As to whether or not they will all be Against Me! albums, we’ll see.
IW: You guys have played at Fest for years. Is there a sense of local pride that it started and remained in Gainesville, FL?
Gabel: Not felt by me, it’s just a fest.
IW: Have you ever attended as a fan?
Gabel: No, whenever we haven’t been playing I try to avoid Gainesville when Fest is happening.
IW: So how do you describe Fest to people who have never been?
Gabel: A bunch of bands play, spread out at all of the venues in town. Everyone’s either drunk or high on cocaine.