I had the opportunity to meet with Pat Thetic, the drummer from Anti-Flag before their set at Sub 89 in Reading on August 7th. After exchanging pleasantries and introductions, we had a decent chat about Rebellion Festival, their latest album ‘American Spring‘, intimate shows and heavy touring, police brutality (we all know the band like to call out the police flaws at any given opportunity) and playing shows in bowling alleys.
Broken Arrow: So, how was Rebellion?
Pat: It was fucking awesome, we had a great time, the people who ran it were all really amazing and everyone we interacted with was great! It was like a family reunion because all the punk rockers were there, we got to see the guys from UK Subs, Sick Of It All were there, Misfits were there, it was great!
Broken Arrow: Did you know much about the festival before you played?
Pat: I’ve known about it for a long time, it’s been going on for 20 years I think.
Broken Arrow: So was this your first time playing Rebellion?
Pat: First time we’ve ever played it yes.
Broken Arrow: Apart from Rebellion, I don’t think Blackpool has much of a scene.
Pat: Well we were talking to the woman who runs it and I asked her “why is this in fucking Blackpool?”. And well she said she wanted to do it in Brighton originally, but they weren’t allowed to like they can in Blackpool so that was the main reason. Apparently venues in Brighton laughed at them and said don’t call them back, but this was 20 years ago, and ever since then it’s been held at Blackpool. And I’m speaking for her, I’m not sure exactly, but that’s what I heard last night.
Broken Arrow:Quite like tonight, you guys like treating us to smaller intimate shows over here, The Old Blue Last recently and Kingston a few years are a couple to mention, do you get more enjoyment out of these shows?
Pat: We like to do the small shows, we do shows like tonight, then we do these big festival shows that are so far away from everybody doesn’t always make sense, so to play these small shows is awesome.
Broken Arrow: I remember NOFX at Reading Festival 2010 were playing the mainstage, they teased about playing the smaller punk stage the next day and it turns out they did.
Pat: That’s pretty cool, as a band it’s not always fun to be that far away from everyone, it just doesn’t make as much sense, especially when you come from basement shows like we do we want to be where the people are. Bigger shows make more sense for someone like Britney Spears.
Broken Arrow: I was at the Old Blue Last Show in June, and there were 2 shows, what was the idea behind that?
Pat: Yeah yeah, they said “do you want to play 2 shows?” and we said that’s a horrible idea, let’s do that.
Broken Arrow: It was quite a fun idea, the fact we got to see bands play in the afternoon at a time most people are at work, you guys must have been nackered.
Pat: Yeah it was really bad, well then we flew right into Canada and we did another show at the end of the tour, it was another small show and a day of talking to people, then we had to drive him which was brutal, it was bad decisional all round on that.
Broken Arrow: Have you had a chance to rest since?
Pat: Well we went home for a little bit then came out on this run, and this run has been brutal too, we’ve been playing and flying and playing and flying repeatedly and the weather on the continent has just been so fucking hot, and I don’t do well in the heat.
Broken Arrow: I can relate to that. (both laughing)
Pat: Spain was really hot and horrible, we lost our luggage, it was a challenging couple of weeks.
Broken Arrow: Has American Spring gone down as well as you hoped or expected?
Pat: Absolutely, it was interesting because we were up in Blackpool lastnight, and the rebellion crowd is no necessarily known for buying the new records, they are more like “we liked you 5 records ago”, but everybody is singing along to the new songs, and I was like that’s pretty amazing that these people who traditionally only care about your first or 2nd record were singing along to songs from the new record, so that was pretty awesome.
Broken Arrow: It’s funny that these elitists types tend to stick to albums that are more from the roots of a band.
Pat: Yeah, which is fine, I like a couple of bands where I only like their first couple of records and I don’t like the rest of them, but yeah I think in that sense the record is doing really well, it seems people are enjoying it on some level.
Broken Arrow: You had Tim Armstrong feature on Brandenburg Gate, how did that come about?
Pat: Yeah, well we’ve known Tim for a while and he’s just fucking awesome. He’s a singer and a guitar player and everything, and on that song we felt it would be a good place to bring him in because it’s a sort of folky kind of tune, he was awesome on it and he did a great job.
Broken Arrow: You haven’t had many guests on your albums.
Pat: Well we always go to Mr (Tom) Morello, he always puts on a solo or something for us, he’s awesome aswell, but yeah not too much, we just thought it would be really cool to have Tim on that song.
Broken Arrow: This next one is a pretty deep question.
Broken Arrow: The song Fuck Police Brutality came out in 1996, is it at all shocking that 19 years later the song topic is still just as relevant today?
Pat: No, actually I see it the other way, I see it that it was relevant in 1996 and it’s been relevant the whole time and the rest of the American population is finally waking up to the point that we’re killing young black men in alarming numbers by the police.
Broken Arrow: Of course the big one recently would be the Sandy Bland incident.
Pat: Yeah, it’s going on all the time, it was going on in 2004 but nobody gave a fuck then, so I’m glad that people are paying attention. It’s also much like the whole Edward Snowden stuff, we’ve known that’s been going on for years and then people are telling us “it’s really happening”, like we fucking know that it’s been happening, I don’t know you didn’t know it was happening. Now the rest of the population has woken up to the fact that the American government is spying on us. So the fact that the American police are killing black men in alarming numbers, many of them are unarmed, its horrible. Hopefully now that the rest of the population is starting to realise this, maybe we can make a change.
Broken Arrow: Social media has gone absolutely berserk, especially after recent events.
Pat: Well it should.
Broken Arrow: Back to Fuck Police Brutality, at the time in 1996 when the song was written, did you think it was going to be relevant these 19 years later?
Pat: Yep absolutely, and it’s going to be relevant in another 20 years from now because the American culture is not going to change its racist ways, it will get a bit better and it will ebb and flow. Until we get guns off the streets and get rid of the NRA it’s going to continue to be like this.
Broken Arrow: Guns have been legal in America for so long, surely that would cause a huge uproar.
Pat: Of course there is going to be a huge uproar, there was one when people said slavery should be banned, still doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t have been banned. Just because there are bad idea in a culture, it doesn’t mean we should let those bad ideas keep going, we should get rid of them.
Broken Arrow: Have you been following the Sandy Bland incident at all? Do you have any thoughts?
Pat: I don’t know whether she killed herself or they killed her, I do know that she shouldn’t have been arrested, so at that point it is involuntary manslaughter to me and that guy should be on trial.
Broken Arrow: Yeah the baffling thing to me is that the guy only got demoted to a desk job.
Pat: Yeah he’s still getting paid….
Broken Arrow: I have no idea how that is allowed.
Pat: Yeah….well…..the American police, and I have no idea if this is the same in your culture or in the UK or not, but all the jackasses I went to high school with became police officers, and I’m sure that guy was also jackass in high school and became a police officer, just to show everyone else how much of a tough badass he can be, now he’s a fucking shithead and should be on trial.
Broken Arrow:In a similar way that would be military for us, a lot of our jock types end up going into the military to act all hard.
Pat: Yeah that makes sense for a military perspective, they can send them to Afghanistan to kill and abuse the locals there instead of people in the UK, which really isn’t a good thing either.
Broken Arrow: No not at all…. well on a lighter note, who is your support on this this tour?
Pat: We’ll we have Brawlers for a few shows, and another local band tonight I can’t quite remember off the top of my head.
Broken Arrow: Brawlers played the Old Blue Last show if I remember correctly?
Pat: Yeah yeah that’s right; they’re a young band, hardworking guys.
Broken Arrow: Also tomorrow you are playing with Less Than Jake, is that a headline show for them? The posters don’t seem to make that one clear.
Pat: I think they are headlining yeah, in Bratislava and a couple of other shows recently they opened for us, so In the UK we’ll open for them.
Broken Arrow: Did you know the show is in a bowling alley?
Pat: Yeah that’s what I heard; it’s called the Brooklyn bowl so I guessed it was a bowling alley.
Broken Arrow: Ahh, my initial reaction was that it was at a skate park, that kind of bowl.
Pat: Haha ohh no, well in the states we have a history of punk-rock being done in bowling alleys. There was an old bowling alley down in Chicago that we used to play all the time and another one in New Jersey too.
Broken Arrow: Oh ok wow, that concept is completely new to us over here.
Pat: Well you usually have these big bowling alleys that are relatively large and nobody really bowls anymore so they put on punk shows, people can still bowl there just not during the shows.
Broken Arrow: You’re bowling with some fans before the show tomorrow right?
Pat: Yeah the bands get to hang with some fans, have a bit of a bowl before the show.
Broken Arrow: that honestly sounds a lot of fun, well enjoy that and enjoy the shows.
Pat: Cheers, I hope you enjoy tonight.
Anti-Flag’s latest album ‘American Spring‘ is out now on Spinefarm Records, read our review for it here.