The past five years have been an interesting experience for Florida punk rockers Against Me! The band made the leap from Fat Wreck Chords to Warner Bros-owned label Sire (not without some criticism), released two critically-praised albums and toured the world, reaching a slew of new fans, while still maintaining much of the die-hards who stretch back to the late 90s.
The band recently went online to announce that they are no longer with Sire Records and pulled out of a tour to regroup and consider their next move. Two months later, the band is back and has just announced a major tour with the Dropkick Murphys for 2011 and also revealed that Jay Weinberg will be taking over drums for the recently departed Warren Oakes.
Guitarist Tom Gabel spoke recently with Innocent Words about the recent changes that the band has endured and what’s on the horizon for Against Me!
Innocent Words: What was behind the decision to leave Sire?
Tom Gabel: Well, our contract was up; Sire chose not to renew. Warner, which owns Sire, is also undergoing a pretty massive restructuring right now that started with the president of the company, Tom Whalley leaving. Over the past couple months, they’ve been laying off a lot of employees and letting go of a lot of bands. Unfortunately, a lot of the people they’ve been letting go were people that were on our team. It kind of felt like if we had stayed we would have been lost in the shuffle there, if we weren’t already.
IW: Was the split amicable?
Gabel: Definitely. I feel really proud of the work we did while with the label, and I’m thankful for all the hard work everyone there put into our band, but I really felt like it was time to move on. We’ve never made more than two full-length albums with a label.
IW: I interviewed you shortly after you signed to the label, and you said one of the reasons for joining Warner Bros was to expose your music to more people. Do you think that was accomplished?
IW: Have you thought about how you are going to release future albums?
Gabel: We’re not really sure what we’re doing right now, just starting to figure it all out. This is all really fresh.
IW: When do you plan on work on the next album?
Gabel: I’ve already started writing, and we’ve started putting a couple songs together as a full band. I’m in no rush, but at the same time, I feel really excited about creating new material and letting people hear it.
IW: What can you tell me about the new tour with the Dropkick Murphys?
Gabel: Well, it starts Feb. 23 in Niagara Falls, NY, and ends March 20 in Boston. All the dates can be found on our website and the Dropkick’s website. We did a two-week-long tour of Europe with those guys a couple years ago that was a lot of fun; I’m looking forward to this run.
IW: I read that Jay Weinberg will be playing drums on this tour. How did you meet him?
Gabel: Jay’s been coming out to our shows for years; we became friends. Whenever he would come out, he would usually jump up on stage and play the last song of our set “We Laugh At Danger…” with us.
IW: So, is George Rebelo no longer part of Against Me?
Gabel: I wouldn’t ever rule out playing with George in the future; he’s an incredible drummer and a friend. At the moment, he’s over in Australia with Hot Water Music, and I’m pretty sure they’re going to be working on a new album this year, so he’ll be pretty busy with that.
IW: What will the band be doing in 2011?
Gabel: A lot of touring and then working on new material.