Interview with Pat Thetic of Anti-Flag at Warped Tour ’17

Interview video by Rei Haycraft and Divus Moss. Photography by Kevin McGee Photography.

Rei: Rei Haycraft here with Fuel the Scene Magazine, and I’m here with Pat from Anti-Flag. How are you doing today?

Pat: Great. I’m hot, it’s Warped Tour. We’re in North Carolina, so it is always hot here. It’s sunny, and hot, and shitty, so we’re going to rock. Warped has been a lot of fun. We are out here with Sick of it All, and today Big D and the Kids Table are on today, so that’s going to be awesome. War On Women is on, which is another great band that we’ve toured with and had some great tours with.

Rei: You’ve play with a lot of these bands before and you all have been veterans of the scene for a long time.

Pat: Yes. We’ve been a band for 20, 25 years now, so we’ve done a lot of touring with a lot of these bands. A lot of the younger bands we haven’t toured with, but we’re going to hopefully do some touring with them in the future. That’s good.

Rei: Yeah. Now, you all are, I wouldn’t say famous for, but your political activism and being aware of the social unrest, I suppose, in the nation. What has it been like, especially this summer, on Warped Tour with all the things going on?

Pat: Well, the interesting thing about Donald Trump and his administration is A.) he’s a douche.

Rei: Agreed.

Pat: We’ll start with that. What his bigotry has allowed is the normalization of racism and sexism, and we have to make sure that we see that-

Rei: (air quotes) “Locker room talk.”

Pat: Yes. “Locker room talk,” or straight-up bigotry. When we see that, we have to confront it, because just because the president condones it doesn’t mean that the rest of the culture does. When we’re all in our collective small cultures and you hear that racist and sexist talk, you have to stand up against it. That’s what happened at Warped Tour a couple of weeks ago with the Dickies and people felt as though what was being said was fucked up. I agree with them. They spoke out against it. Yeah. The world that we live in now is slightly different because him being a racist allows the other racists to think that it’s okay to be shitty.

Rei: You all have been active in standing against such things for forever, but right now is such a volatile period. How do you feel that has affected the punk rock scene specifically?

Pat: Well, the punk rock kids have always been smart enough to not follow that. The punk rock kids are down here, and we’re just trucking along because that’s what we do. We are always on the right side of human rights and the right side of social justice. The rest of the culture goes in waves of stupidity. Right now we’re in the trough of stupidity, or the height of stupidity, depending on how you want to use that analogy. Yeah. Punk rock is always there. We’re always there fighting against those things.

One of the things that we’ve learned over time being in a band is one of our heroes is Woody Guthrie. He was a singer songwriter activist from the 1930s and ’40s. He sang songs about immigration and the problems with immigration, but the songs that he sang were about Oklahoma people moving to California for jobs. The people in California were trying to build a wall in California and keep the Okies out, as they called them, from coming and stealing their jobs.

It’s the same thing. You still have these people who are afraid of others use this argument of stealing our jobs. Usually there’s an economic, there’s usually people with less money trying to get into a place with more opportunity, but now the issue is the same but the geography has changed. Now it’s people want to come from Mexico or Central or South America or the Middle East into the US, and there’s small-minded people in the US who want to build walls and try and keep people out. What you realize when you see these things and you see this, that the stupid people are always going to be there. They’re always going to be afraid of others. What we need to do is always fight against that and make sure that we realize that when we have people from different places, different ethnicities, different cultures, it makes all of us better rather than less.

Rei: Absolutely.

Pat: We always want to welcome as many people with different viewpoints, and that is actually economically what has made the US strong in the last … in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, was that diversity that came in in the 1900s and 1920s. It brings in different ideas, and economically it’s better for all of us.

Rei: Absolutely. How do you feel in the last decade or so, that the internet and social media has changed that narrative?

Pat: Well, what it has done is, on the good side, it is brought the hierarchy of media down. Anybody can be a journalist now, which is fucking awesome. We all want to be able to get our voice out there, and the more voices we have, the better. That is awesome. The yang to that, or the yin, I’m not sure which it is, but the bad side of that is the fact that you can put out disinformation much easier now than you could before.

It’s very difficult to weed through what is real information and what is fake news, as Trump uses. What you see, and just to be clear, with Trump, whenever he’s accused of things, he attacks for the things that he’s accused of. Sorry. I’m getting a phone call. When Trump says, “Fake news,” he accuses people of fake news, it’s because he is creating fake news.

Rei: Well, it means, “News I don’t like.”

Pat: Yes. He’s also actively, his party and his alt-right are producers of fake news, along with the Russians. We have to figure out ways of figuring out what is fake and what is real. As a culture, we haven’t figured that out yet. I don’t have the answer for that. There’s much smarter people who are going to do that. For me, the way of solving that problem is to see news media from lots of different sources. Then, we could always figure out what is bullshit and what’s real.

Rei: What do you think that the music scene’s part of social justice and activism is?

Pat: The music scene does not have a responsibility for social justice and activism. However, for me, that’s the most interesting kind of music, so I always gravitate towards that. If you’re interested in those things, talking about those issues and making the next generation aware that those things are out there and that they can be evolved … When I was young, there was no talk in school about trans people, there was no talk in schools about homosexuals and the lifestyle where different-cultured people, or people from different cultures.

I didn’t know about veganism or vegetarianism until I went to the rock shows and I was exposed to those ideas. Those ideas made a lot of sense to me, and I live my life within those communities. The rock show, in my vision: the most important part of that is to make people realize that there’s other people out in the world and that if they don’t fit into the homogenous group that they grew up in, there’s another group for them to find.

Rei: Beyond that, what do you feel is your personal motivating factor in this band?

Pat: The thing that we have which is awesome that a lot of other people don’t have is every night we go into a room full of three to three thousand people and meet people who want to see the world different than it is today. When I see those people, we are charged and amped up, and we think, “The world’s changing, man. Things are getting better every day.” Now, I realize when you go to your school and you’re like, “Oh, these people suck and nobody’s changing anything,” it’s not … you don’t have the optimism that we do, but there are amazing people out there who are boots on the ground, making shit happen every day. When we play rock shows, we get to interact with them, and that’s fucking awesome. That’s what keeps us moving forward, because we know that there are people who are willing to fight for what they believe in.

Rei: That’s awesome. For someone who is not familiar with Anti-Flag, what would you want them to take away from one of your performances?

Pat: We will rock your ass off. Yeah. You’re going to come to the rock show, it’s going to be fucking awesome, and the songs are not that bad. They’re pretty good sometimes.

Rei: If you do say so yourself.

Pat: If I do say so myself, the songs will rock your ass off.

Rei: Now, for your Warped set, which the festival sets are a little bit shorter …how much of your catalog do you get to throw in there?

Pat: We play nothing but the hits. Nothing but the hits. Half an hour of straight hits. There’s not any room to put in any filler. We have 10 records and you’re going to pick the best songs that everybody—

Rei:Any new stuff?

Pat: We have a new record coming out in the fall. We’re listening to mixes right now. They’re awesome. We’re excited to get that stuff out in the fall and do more touring.

Rei: What was the process like of recording Live, Vol. 1?

Pat: Live, Vol. 1. We did it in LA at the Troubadour, I think is the name of the room. It was awesome because we went out and did a whole tour of old songs. That was awesome because we got to revisit these songs, and then we recorded it and then we released it. Because it’s Live, Vol. 1, that means that there’s a Live, Vol. 2 coming. It probably won’t come ’til next year.

Rei: Foreshadowing.

Pat: Yeah. That will come in the next year or so.

Rei: Then, the new album: you said maybe end of this year?

Pat: Looks like some time in October, November. Some time around then.

Rei: Love it. What else do fans have to look forward to from you all beyond the new album? I’m assuming you’ll have some music videos coming out for that.

Pat: Yep. All that stuff is in the works and there’s really cool stuff coming. It’s fun because I get to see it before everybody else gets to see it, so I’m like, “That’s fucking awesome.” I can’t wait for people to see that. That stuff’s going on right now, and it’s going to be coming out soon. We’re excited to share that with people.

Rei: Awesome. If you had any last words of wisdom for our fans back home, what would they be?

Pat: Don’t be an asshole, and start your own fucking band.

Rei: I love it. Rule number one: don’t be an asshole.

Pat: Yep.

Rei: We’re just going to start writing that here on the wall.

Pat: Yeah. Just don’t be an asshole.

Rei: I love it.

Pat: It’s easy. It’s easy to remember. Nothing deep, philosophical; just don’t be an asshole.

Rei: I love it. All right. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today.

Pat: Thank you.

Rei: Have a great rest of your Warped.

Pat: Yeah. Warped Tour. Fuck yeah.