On June 22nd, Against Me! will return to Toronto with Tim Barry and FEA for a show at The Phoenix Concert Theatre. Courtesy of MRG Concerts, we’re giving away a pair of tickets to the show! To discuss their favourite live concerts, singing with fans, and frantic shows, AMBY recently had the pleasure of giving Against Me!’s Atom Willard a call. Dive into our exclusive interview and enter our giveaway below the interview.
AMBY: Hello Atom! It is great to be catching up with you. Where were you riding in from? You mentioned you just got of your motorcycle?
Against Me!: I came down to my rehearsal spot and I’m about to play the drums, or practice a little. I don’t have any drums in my house so when I do go to practice I’m at a specific place for it. It’s like I’m here, this is what I do here, it’s all I do here — no distractions and that kind of stuff.
AMBY: You’re coming back to Toronto soon for a show at The Phoenix. It’s a rarity to have downtime when on the road, but when you occasionally do, how is it spent?
Against Me!: It depends on what’s been before it. Sometimes you have a day off and it’s at the end of a seven or ten show stretch and you’re just exhausted. You do very little; sit in a hotel room, maybe go to the movies, you get an unreasonably huge meal, but really, you don’t do much. But sometimes you have a day off after a couple of days and you’re not so beat down. We’ve been trying to seek out a couple of museums here and there or go do whatever the local energy really has to offer. Sometimes it’s a go-kart track, canoeing, just really there is no limit to what can come up. If we have friends in town they will say, “hey, come with us we are going to go white water rafting on elephants.”
AMBY & Against Me!: [laughs]
Against Me!: And we’re just like, “wow, I’ve never done that before, lets do that.”
AMBY: I know from experience that your live shows are always hectic, energetic, and leave fans super sweaty. With all of the antics and jumping around, there’s bound to be some funny mishaps on stage. Has anything like that happened on this tour? Or has it been pretty smooth sailing?
Against Me!: It’s hard to surprise us at this point but recently Laura had the mic off the stand and she was singing and then holding the mic into the crowd and then people started coming up on stage and then the mic basically was still plugged in but no one could find it. There was sound coming through it but we’re all like, “where is the mic?” There was people singing along and kind of filling in the lyrics for us, but we didn’t really know where it was coming from. Then finally the song ended and people got off and it was like, “oh, there it is!”
AMBY: I guess moments like that though come down to unity – it’s nice seeing everyone actually knowing the lyrics and yelling their hearts out. You don’t even need a mic at that point probably [laughs].
Against Me!: Well yea, I mean it’s always fun to hear people’s ideas of what the melody is.
AMBY & Against Me!: [laughs]
Against Me!: Sometimes it’s a different approach, but I like it, I like the jazz format. Nothing is solid.
AMBY: There was the recent “goodbye gender” burning of Laura’s birth certificate in North Carolina. I love watching the clip of that and seeing how inspired people looked at that act. Have fans come up to chat with the band after shows about what that meant to them?
Against Me!: A lot of people have been pretty vocal about that, it got a lot of coverage. I think it’s something that didn’t even occur to people that was maybe one of the only solid indicators of what their stated gender was, and if you are identifying with something other than what you were born, that is a way to kind of shun that connection or obligation. I think that it opened people’s eyes on some levels to disregard what they were labelled as.
AMBY: With your live shows, I always feel there’s this frantic excitement, and I can always see it on the fans’ faces. When it comes to yourself, what are some shows that you’ve been to as a music fan that stand-out as favourites?
Against Me!: Oh my gosh, wow! Well it’s hard to say, we’ve played so many shows with other bands where we just really enjoyed the opening bands set, even if I can’t necessarily watch the whole thing. As far as going to a show that was specifically something that I went to go see, going to see bands in San Diego as I was growing up, there was always a sense of real excitement and kind of unknown. There were all of these unknowns with those kinds of shows and those bands. In the 90s, it was this fresh new time in the music scene in San Diego, so there were lots of shows in San Diego – local bands and stuff. In particular, going to see Drive Like Jehu, which was always a pretty moving experience. Then when touring bands would come through, either The Make-Up or Fugazi, and there were some that kind of changed my life in many ways.
AMBY: That’s awesome. Well to wrap things up, is there anything you want to say to all of the Against Me! fans out there who will be catching you on this tour?
Against Me!: Come on, come on! That’s it. Basically we want everyone to come that feels like they’ve been wanting to experience this thing. I hope that everyone feels like it’s a good safe place to come and be yourself and enjoy everything that we do and say, and sing and play about.
To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is fill out the form below with the subject “I want to see Against Me!” and write in your name, email, and mailing address AND follow
@AliciaAtout on Twitter and RT this Tweet below. The contest will run until Tuesday, June the 21st at 6PM EDT, and the winner will be chosen and contacted shortly afterwards.
This contest is open to Canadian residents only.
— A Music Blog, Yea? (@AliciaAtout) June 20, 2016
Please note: No purchase or payment is required. There will be 1 winner unless more are specified. If the competition winner makes no contact with one day of notification, the prize may be awarded to an alternative winner. Prizes are non transferable and there is no cash alternative.