INTERVIEW: Anti-Flag [October 2015]

By Samarth Kanal

We spoke to Justin Sane of Anti-Flag, who are just about to embark on a tour of Europe with Red City Radio, Trophy Eyes and The Homeless Gospel Choir, as well as their appearance at Warped Tour UK this weekend. Regardless of his jetlagged state, Justin talked to us about the upcoming tour, why it’s easy to get burnt out, and what he’d do with a huge lottery win.

So, you guys are touring Europe soon, and you’ve just played in Australia. Is touring much better now than it was say, 20 years ago?

Definitely. I think it boils down to the fact that we’re just better at it now. As you get older you kinda bring the small stuff with you to make it more comfortable. Yeah, I’ve just gotten back from Australia and now I’m talking to you, so it’s a little crazy – I am so jetlagged. You learn how to deal with it.

Wow, you must be exhausted!

Well I am, I just woke up actually and it’s like 4pm. But I’m used to it now!

You’ve got a song on the Tony Hawk Pro Skater Game: how important is skate culture right now?

Oh, we have?! Oh yeah, it’s an old one. That song is from our Fat Wreck days. Skate culture is really important to us. I think there’s so many talented skaters and artists within those communities that also make punk and hardcore music. It’s a bunch of people coming together to make something positive.

As you’re quite politically active, and there’s probably no better time to ask this question: What would you do about the prevalence of mass shootings in America?

That is a really good question actually, and it’s a really really tough subject. I don’t think it’s possible to remove guns completely from America, as it’s completely ingrained now. It’s nearly impossible to tell people to just stop firing guns in this country. I personally know loads of people who have guns and it’s a very strange culture in America, gun culture. It’s like an obsession. I don’t know if we’re ever quite able to put that genie back in the bottle in America. It’s definitely worth trying to change the culture, and I’m pretty positive that it can be changed. There should be background checks if you’re going to buy guns, y’know.

Doesn’t it get overwhelming, thinking about all the horrible stuff happening? How do you guys take your mind off that once in a while?

Oh yeah, just being with the people that are around me, who are so important – they help me. Spending time with people helps, and also, you have to take a break sometimes. If you constantly think about everything bad happening you’ll get burnt out. It’s a real challenge, taking your mind off things, but you have to.

OK, finally, I know you guys work for a lot of good causes. If you won the lottery, say, $40 million, what would you do with it?

40 million?! What? That’s nothing! I’d want the whole $200 million.

Fine, you get $200 million, but just this once.

Haha, that’s better. Well it’s not really about money a lot of the time. It’s really about people, and how they treat each other. People have very little money and still manage to do a lot of good. That said, I’d start an anti-war organisation. I’d focus that money on raising awareness and campaigning against war, and getting something done on that. We’re contributing to the destruction of our planet, and the oceans are rising and since World War Two we’ve seen a huge amount of destruction. There’s a lot that money could be spent on. But $200 million would be nicer than $40 million.

Well, I’d gladly give it to you, but, well, I don’t really have $200 million as you might have guessed. Sorry. Regardless, thank you for your time today. I hope you recover from the jetlag and have a good tour!

That’s very generous, thank you man. Good luck with the work that you’re doing, and keep at it. Have a good day!

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]