Piss and Vinegar

What not to ask Tom Gabel of Against Me!

I've experienced all scenarios, from the smallest indie to the biggest major. What I've realized is, there is no difference. Bottom line, the model for a record label is the same on all levels. The goal of a record label is to make money off of the records they put out. Var and Jen from No Idea want to make money just as much as Mike and Erin at Fat, just as much as Ed Bronfman Jr. at Warner does. There's nothing wrong with making money off of your work. Var, Jen, Mike, Erin, Ed — they all deserve to make money from CDs they've worked on, and so do all their employees. They are a business, and if they don't make money, they can't put out further releases.

But trying to hide the fact that money is an issue behind a flag of punk rock, in my opinion, is disgusting. I want to make music for people. I want to make music for people that adds to their life. I hope they can get the same release from listening that I do from playing it. Do I play music to make money? No. But yes, money is being made. The most important thing to me is following my muse. I've got to keep moving, keep progressing, keep changing. I have to have new experiences, or I fear I'll lose the passion to write.

How off-subject am I? If we would have been asked to play "Baby, I'm an Anarchist" on Late Night with Conan O'Brien the day after we wrote it, we would have.

See, Tom Gabel (second from left) does smile sometimes
Drew Goren
See, Tom Gabel (second from left) does smile sometimes


Against Me!, Sage Francis, Cobra Skulls, and World/Inferno Friendship Society perform Thursday, November 8, at Revolution, 200 W Broward Blvd, Fort Lauderdale. The show starts at 6:00 p.m., and tickets cost $15. Call 954-727-0950, or visit www.jointherevolution.net or www.ticketmaster.com.

I have been listening to your newest album, New Wave. I think it's a great album. When you say, "We can control the medium," what medium are you referring to?

Phone answer: In some respects, the Internet. We don't need bands, and we don't need record labels, and we don't need journalists or anything like that to inform us anymore, especially with the Internet and everything like that out there. The power is in our hands. You want to start a band and you want somebody to hear it, then you don't need the record deal; you can put it out there yourself.... If you have something to say, you can get it out there. The Internet is free and accessible. Zines and stuff like that cost money to produce.

E-mail answer: I guess I was referring to our music. So not "we" in a metaphoric sense, but a literal "we." We wrote the songs, we chose the producer, we recorded the album we wanted to make. We did the artwork. We approve all ads placed in promotion of the album. We choose the video director and collaborate on the treatment. We choose the bands we tour with. We set the ticket prices (when it's a tour we're headlining). We chose our publicists, we chose the agent, et cetera. We can't physically do everything ourselves, but we can choose all representatives of the band, all those who work on our behalf and oversee their work. It's our responsibility. Sorry if I was an asshole on the phone.

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