Racket’s interviewed Tom Gabel numerous times, and each time there’s been amazing quotes and lots of stirring the punk rock pot. This time I bowed to let Mondo interview him. Now that they’re done being mainstream sell-outs on a soul-sucking major label and back on indie Sabot Productions, Against Me! are…still being Against Me!
Hey Tom, I’m Armando and I’m going to be interviewing you for Racket Magazine.
How are you Armando?
I’m doing great, it’s a warm California day and I can’t complain.
Whereabouts in California are you at?
At the moment, Los Angeles.
Where in Los Angeles?
In Hollywood, near the Henry Fonda if you’re familiar with the area.
Yeah, I know where that is. I used to live out in Silverlake for a while and then in Burbank so I’m actually pretty familiar with the area.
That’s cool! Well if you’re ready why don’t we jump into some questions?
Yeah, I’m ready. Let’s do this.
Ok, so you recently put out a 7inch on Sabot and if I am not mistaken your manager is the head of Sabot correct?
Yes, he is, we’re both at the Sabot office right now actually.
Cool, so did you go up to him about putting that 7inch out or did he come up to you? How did the ball get rolling in regards to releasing the 7inch in the first place?
Well he is usually an arm’s length away from me so the process of ideas with Sabot is as easy as me going “hey we should do this” and Jordan agreeing with me.
OK, that’s cool. Now everyone knows you got booted, well I wouldn’t say booted but rather sire decided not to pick up the band again.
Booted seems so cold! Ouch!
I can never really phrase things the right way to be honest.
The relationship came to an end.
You’re right! You two just broke up.
Yeah lets just say that.
Well since you two are broken up are you actively searching for a label or are you just letting things kind of just happen on their own?
It’s the kind of thing that’s going to happen when it happens. We have tons of touring lined up for the rest of the year. We’re kind of an independent band and don’t really need any hand holding from a record label to survive on our own. We’ll figure it out when we figure it out but you could say we’re in the process of it. Sure.
OK, well after dealing with Sire for the past two albums do you kind of have a better idea of what you do and don’t want from a record label.
Yeah, but its not kind of something you can sum up in a line. Its more about knowing the kind of people you want to work with and wanting to do what feels comfortable.
So most people have a negative image when it comes to signing with a major label, when you went into it how did you feel about the situation and would you say your initial impressions were met?
Well I think going into any situation like that, you’re really going off of the people you’re meeting with and saying they want to work with you. The biggest thing I probably learned from being in a band and touring is you just kind of gotta go into each situation with an open mind. There are cool people in bands you tour with and jerks in bands you tour with. It’s the same for labels, there are cool people who work at labels and jerks who work at label but you never what kind of people you’re going to meet when you’re first introduced to someone. At the time when we signed with Sire/Warner we liked all the people we were working with and we felt it was a really good team of people to be working with and it would be an effective relationship. Unfortunately, over the past couple of months they’ve just fired a lot of people that were great to work with. This morning Jordan even heard of people that we worked with being fired and it’s a shame.
Insane. Let’s shift things more towards the songwriting process. You’ve recently started a family over the past couple of years. You know have a wife and child. Would you say they have affected your song writing at all for against me or do you prefer to keep that part of your life separate from the songs that you write?
I think that it’s inevitable that they’re going to have some kind of impact even if its just subconscious. I haven’t directly written a song about having a family in a direct way but I do feel, even with this last record that there was an influence from my personal life.
So you put out “ I was a Teenage Anarchist” as your first single a little while back when the record first dropped last year and there was a lot of buzz on the internet about it but did you get any negative reactions from the anarchist community about the song?
Not really, no. I think that a majority of the people who are a part of the anarchist movement are probably more focused on really important issues and concerns going on in the world than some band who doesn’t affect their lives sings about on a record. That song wasn’t meant as any kind of attack or disownment on the anarchist community. It was really just speaking on personal experiences and mob mentalities and what happens when people organize into groups, which is really an anarchist talking point but not one of their ideals.
so you put a solo record out a few years back, do you have any plans to put out another any time soon or if you plan to put one out at all.
I don’t have a specific date or anything like that but its definitely something on my mind and something I am always writing songs for, either for against me or my own solo stuff. I don’t necessarily write songs either for against me or my own solo material, I just write and see where it goes.
So then is there a possibility of seeing something this year or is that uncertain at this point?
We definitely would like to see something happen this year. As I mentioned earlier there are tons of tours booked but there is time between tours to where in theory we can be productive. That’s kind of the idea or the plan, to be on the road where it’s mentally stimulating for song writing so hopefully it’ll do the trick.
Sounds like fun. Recently you’ve been seen wearing a vest at performances and in music videos. Is that a new vest you perhaps found at a thrift store or is that something you just haven’t worn in awhile?
Well, if you really want to know it was a jean jacket that I’ve worn since about 2005 and the arms blew out at the elbows so I said fuck it and cut off the arms and made it into a vest. I like to have the inside breast pocket so I can carry a notebook and cell phone because I feel like my pants can get too full of stuff and it bugs me.
OK, so would you say at some point you would look to maybe buy a new jean jacket or is the vest going to stay until it becomes no more?
(laughs) Well if you really want to know, I have a new jacket and its hanging in my closet. I have a couple of jackets. (laughs).
Sounds cool, well 2010 just recently started an you have several tours lined up for the rest of the year, with bands like cheap girls, fences and dropkick murphys. Do you know what you have lined up after these tours? Take a break perhaps? Make up the UK tour? What is the next step for against me once the Dropkick tour is done?
It’s looking like we’re going to make up Australia dates after the dropkick tour and we’re hoping to headline some more in the late spring early summer and we’re also trying to plan some summer stuff. We aren’t ready to announce plans just yet but do know that we have some in the works.
So then you’re just doing a bunch of non stop touring then?
Yeah, pretty much but there are some short breaks in between tours so its not too overwhelming.
Ok, do you have any comments you want to leave the readers with?
I just want to say thanks to anyone who took the time to read this.
Awesome, well thanks for chatting with me and you have a great day.
Not a problem, you take it easy too.
-Interview conducted by Armando Olivas, introduction by Jonathan Yost