Against Me! is a punk rock band formed in 1997 in Gainesville, Florida. Their first full-length album, released on No Idea Records in 2002, was Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose. They have released music on Misanthrope Records, Crasshole Records, Plan It X Records, Sabot Productions, No Idea Records, and Fat Wreck Chords. In December 2005, they signed with Sire Records, and released their major label debut, New Wave on July 10, 2007. Their second album on Sire, White Crosses, was released on June 4, 2010.
Tom Gabel started the band at age 17 as a solo act with vocals and acoustic guitar. He would only occasionally perform with backup from drummers or bassists. In 1997 Gabel self-released one demo tape titled Against Me! but more commonly known as Tom's First Demo. While copies of the cassette itself are extremely rare, Internet file-sharing programs have helped circulate the songs among fans.
Another demo cassette was released the following year on Misanthrope Records, with a slightly more complete band featuring drummer Kevin Mahon, titled Vivida Vis!. Only five hundred copies of the album were made, but file-sharing once again popularized it. Songs from the album are still routinely requested by members of the audience at Against Me! shows. The band rarely, if ever, obliges these requests. Gabel summarized his feelings on the subject in a 2007 interview with Racket Magazine:
|“||NO ONE fucking liked us. [laughs] No one! Our first year of shows was just like us showing up, me and Kevin and unloading my acoustic guitar, and Kevin unloading his drums; which was like this weird home made kit, and people were like 'What the fuck is this?' and making fun of us. No one liked us at first, and now there's all these people saying 'I've loved you since Vivida Vis!.' No, you didn't. No one liked us when Vivida Vis! was around. I was there at the shows! There were TEN people there, what are you talking about? I know you weren't there... [It's] awesome to play something that would make somebody happy to hear. But sometimes there are songs that we don't necessarily play anymore, and when people ask for 'em it's like 'God, we don't want to play them anymore.' An example would be the song "Burn" [chuckles] we uh, we don't play it anymore and it's like 'Hm... sorry.' [laughs]||”|
In a blog dated November 21, 2008, Tom Gabel further elaborated on the subject, citing his falling out with Kevin Mahon:
|“||A lot of the songs we played I've refused to play for years, and some fans of those songs have never quite been able to understand. They were songs that Kevin and I made together and their association to my broken heart turned me cynical and jaded towards them.||”|
In 2000, a self-titled, vinyl-only 12" EP was released on Crasshole Records. Due to a mastering error, only 145 copies were ever officially released. In 2001, Against Me! – now chiefly Gabel on guitar and Kevin Mahon on drums – released Crime as Forgiven By. The four-song 7" and six song CD-EP was joint-released on Plan-It-X Records and Sabot Productions. The 7" came first; the CD that followed included two bonus tracks: "Impact" and "Burn", which have been more or less disowned by the band.
After Crime, a four-song acoustic 7" was released. While technically untitled, the album is most commonly referred to as The Acoustic EP, or less commonly as the Jordan's First Choice EP. In a similar manner as Crime, this record was re-released as a CD-EP with two extra songs. It contains no electric guitar or drums; only Gabel's acoustic guitar and bass by Dustin Fridkin. Shortly after the release of The Acoustic EP, Against Me!'s lineup shifted when Mahon departed and was replaced by Warren Oakes. James Bowman joined the band as second guitarist.
Reinventing Axl Rose, released in March 2002, is the band's first full-length album. The album featured new tracks; the other six were re-recorded from their original appearances on Crime and The Acoustic EP. This album was considered a shift because of the addition of electric guitars, and the presence of a full band. The title track and "Baby, I'm an Anarchist!" earned significant notoriety in punk rock circles and began to spread Against Me! to a larger fan base - a fan base that would prove difficult to please with their next few releases.
After Axl Rose, Against Me!'s lineup changed once again. Fridkin left the band and was replaced on bass guitar by Andrew Seward. This lineup of Gabel, Oakes, Bowman, and Seward remained intact until June 2009. Interestingly, the common set-up of the band at live shows featured Gabel (the chief vocalist) at stage right and Seward at center stage. In late 2002, a three-song EP entitled The Disco Before The Breakdown was released.
In 2003, Against Me! signed to Fat Wreck Chords, which released their two subsequent studio albums, as well as the band's only official live album to date. The move to a larger label upset many fans. The band found the tires on their tour van slashed, and had it graffitied with the phrase "remember when you mattered." At one concert a protest band called Against Us! played in the parking lot outside the club. Maximum RocknRoll even suggested ways to disrupt the bands shows like pouring bleach on their merchandise table.
Their second full-length album and Fat Wreck Chords debut, As the Eternal Cowboy, was released in 2003. Gabel described the album as sounding "more punk" than their previous albums. The album also earned them their first single, "Sink, Florida, Sink". The divisive effect the record had on their fan base became the topic of their next release, a DVD entitled We're Never Going Home, a tour documentary produced by Jake Burghart of Transition Video Magazine. The DVD follows the band on a United States tour where they were literally offered "a million dollars to make a record" by Universal Records. The anticipation for their next album encouraged executives to wine and dine the band with offers of fortune and fame. The video offers insight into how the band handled these offers and also gives a peek at what it's like to live life on the road with the band. It also features candid interviews with Fat Wreck Chords executives (including Fat Mike), the members of the band, Chris Johnston of Plan-It-X Records, and fans. The DVD derives its name from the final line of "Slurring the Rhythms," the fifth track off of Eternal Cowboy.
The band's third full-length album, Searching for a Former Clarity, was released on September 6, 2005. It debuted at #114 on the Billboard charts. The band released a music video for the album's first single, "Don't Lose Touch," originally only on MySpace. The video can now be seen on the television music station Fuse. The band also performed the song on an episode of Late Night With Conan O'Brien which aired on September 30, 2005. "Don't Lose Touch" went on to air on the MTV 10 Spot on November 11, 2005.
In November 2005, the band released a 12" single for "Don't Lose Touch," which featured a remix of the song by Mouse On Mars on side A and the album version of the song on side B. They released another 12" single for "From Her Lips To God's Ears" on April 4, 2006, with a remix by Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys on side A, and the album version on side B. Both singles were released on Fat Wreck Chords. Against Me! released their first live album, entitled Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live in London!!!, on August 22, 2006. The album was recorded at the Mean Fiddler in London, England.
On December 21, 2005, it was announced that the band had signed a deal with Sire Records. Against Me! announced on their MySpace on December 29, 2006 their debut album on Sire, New Wave. It was released on July 10, 2007. The release of New Wave had divided opinion among long-term Against Me! fans. The band lost some fans who labeled the band as sell outs by moving away from independent record labels, and striving for some mainstream success. New Wave debuted at #57 on the Billboard 200 the week of its release. Spin Magazine named it the best album of 2007. The record featured their first charting single, "Thrash Unreal", which hit #11 on the US Modern Rock chart.
The band appeared on Late Night with Conan O' Brien for the second time on July 10, 2007, playing their single "Thrash Unreal," as well as appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman on August 29, 2007, playing the song "Stop!" The band was also featured as MTV's artist of the week in December 2007.
In early 2008, the band supported the Foo Fighters on their American tour. During the tour, they also played three separate shows in smaller venues to support the Harvest of Hope Foundation. In May 2008, Rolling Stone named Against Me! "Best Punk Band" on a list entitled The 125-Plus People, Places and Things Ruling the Rock & Roll Universe.
On November 20, 2008, Gabel reunited with former band member Kevin Mahon for a performance at The Knitting Factory in New York City. They played the Crime as Forgiven By EP in its entirety along with a few other old favorites. On June 8, 2009, drummer Warren Oakes announced that he would be leaving Against Me! after eight years with the band. His statement indicated the split was amicable, as he left the band to focus his efforts on his Mexican restaurant, Boca Fiesta. He was replaced by Hot Water Music drummer George Rebelo.
On July 7, 2009 Fat Wreck Chords released The Original Cowboy, an album consisting of unreleased demos recorded prior to the As the Eternal Cowboy session. The demos were recorded by Rob McGregor in Gainesville on July 15, 2003. On August 17, 2009, Against Me! headed into the studio with New Wave producer Butch Vig. Their fifth studio album, White Crosses, was scheduled to be released on June 8, 2010. Against Me! joined Billy Talent on tour in Canada in March 2010, and will support the Silversun Pickups during a US tour starting June 2010 . The band for this tour includes former keyboardist for The Hold Steady and World/Inferno Friendship Society, Franz Nicolay.
Against Me! released their second album with Sire, White Crosses, on June 4, 2010. The band announced the release of an EP for the song "I Was A Teenage Anarchist" to be released on April 20, 2010. However, on April 7 the EP was released on iTunes for users in the US and Canada, with the previously stated April 20 release date for those in other countries.
On September 29, 2010, just over a day before the start of their Australian tour, Against Me! cancelled all of their upcoming shows, due to a "culmination of circumstances" and having "to take some time off from touring to go home and sort things out." November 28 saw the arrival of a new post on Gabel's blog, saying that Against Me! have cut ties with Sire.
November 2010 saw Against Me!'s departure from Sire Records, their first major label. Following a two-month hiatus from touring, the band spoke for the first time since their tour cancellation, talking of their upcoming December 2010 shows, which will see Jay Weinberg cover for George Rebelo on drums, as he tours with Hot Water Music.