“Get up! Your voices are needed!” Justin Sane shouts on Anti Flag’s 8th studio album, The General Strike, due out on March 20th, 2012, on Side One Dummy. It’s a rallying cry that shares a sentiment with a lot of Anti Flag songs, the call to arms of private citizens to stand up to governmental power and corporate injustice. The difference is that this album, born in the midst of the biggest wave of mass protests the US has seen in over 40 years, is speaking the language of the kids who are already occupying parks, lobbies and plazas all across America. The General Strike finds Anti Flag right where they belong, out in the crowd, alongside the occupying protesters in every major city in the increasingly dissatisfied modern world, screaming their pointed, politically charged slogans over some of their most ambitious tracks to date. And this time, the world is singing with them.
Without compromising their trademark style, The General Strike finds Anti Flag bounding effortlessly from the Hot Water Music-esque 1915 to the hardcore of Bullshit Opportinist to the frenetic, reggae-influenced energy of This Is The New Sound, an anti-wage slavery anthem which highlights Justin and the gang’s tight, reckless virtuosity and effortless hooks. Not to be outdone, Chris number 2 alternately screams, whispers and bellows out anthems of his own like the bounding folk tinged Turn a Blind Eye, a song that seems to sum up the 99 percent’s frustration with the lack of accountability at the top in less than one and a half minutes. Backing up Justin and Number 2, guitarist Chris Head shreds furiously while Pat Thetic pummels out some of the best, angriest drumming of his career. There’s plenty to be pissed about in the dawn of 2012, and Anti Flag have taken aim on The General Strike.
Recorded in the Pittsburgh studio that Anti Flag built with money they made from dissolving their RCA deal, The General Strike was literally forged inside a monument to the redistribution of corporate wealth, and mixed by their old friend, Justin Francis. The results are 12 tracks that find Anti Flag doing what they do best in a way that they’ve never really done it before. The General Strike is equal parts reggae and hardcore, modern folk punk and traditional Clash influenced dance punk. It’s reckless and tight, aggressive, experimental and unabashed in its influences. In short, it’s the kind of record that could only be made by a seasoned band in their own studio, operating on their own time and working with old friends.
Of course, Anti Flag is more than just Pittsburgh basements and catchy songs. They’re also a relentless touring force and outspoken activists. In the time since 2009’s The People Or The Gun came out, Anti Flag has shared stages and protest ground all over the world with amazing individuals and groups. 2009-2010 saw Anti Flag go to Russia, as well as South America for the first time. They played the Vans Warped tour, the UK’s massive Redding and Leeds festivals, Soundwave in Australia, Canadian dates with My Chemical Romance, the Vans Off the Wall European tour, Ruisrock in Helsinki, Pukkelpop in Belgium and high profile local shows like Home for the Holidays with the Bouncing Souls and Florida’s Harvest of Hope festival, which provides emergency educational and financial relief to migrant farm workers and their families.
No strangers to throwing their name behind good causes, the Flag also lent their ferocious live set to the Gay Edge Liberation benefit in Cologne Germany and Positive Force DC. Recently, Anti Flag brought their punk philanthropy to the UK for Wherever the Need, which supports clean water projects. They’ve been extremely active and vocal in the Occupy Wall Street movement. Even for a band who’s shared stages with such massive and diverse acts as Rage Against the Machine and Bjork and headlined a festival of 50,000 Germans, it’s been a banner year of pushing forward for Anti Flag, not only in terms of touring, but also visible activism.
So what’s next for Anti Flag? Well besides heading to Southeast Asia for the first time, where they’ll hit Thailand, Jakarta and Hong Kong, a run of US tour dates, a headlining stint on the Warped Tour, Australian and European dates, including a stop at Groezrock, you can bet that wherever there are dissatisfied people gathering together in the name of changing the status quo, the guys in Anti Flag will be there, side by side, sharing the slogans and songs, the kicks to the ribs and the parties until there’s nothing left to fight for or no parties left to overthrow, or at the very least, the last partiers go home.