NEW YEARS DAY live at Vans’ Warped Tour ’17: July 6th in Charlotte, NC.
Photography by Kevin McGee Photography for Fuel The Scene Magazine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rei: Alright, Warped Tour. Rei Haycraft with Silverstein.
Billy: Hey, I’m Billy from Silverstein. I play the bass and yell sometimes. Make some sounds with my mouth.
Rei: How has your Warped been thus far?
Billy: Sufficiently warped. Yeah, you know, it’s our seventh or eighth year on the tour. It’s been very hot. I think we’ve got the majority of the both very hot, hot days out of the way, and the very hot wet days out of the way with both Florida, and Arizona, and Vegas, all that. It’s been hot, but yeah, we kind of know how to keep cool. We’ve got a great hangout set up behind our tent. We got pals coming around, we got some AstroTurf laid down and a barbecue and stuff, so you know.
Rei: Practicing your putt back there?
Billy: Yup, it’s been good. We just celebrated Canada Day. It’s great, you know?
Rei: Oh goodness. So, you all, we’ll say scene veterans, started in 2000. You’ve got 17 years under your belt, a ton of material, so coming out and playing a short set like this festival tour, what is it like building that set and deciding what to play?
Billy: Yeah, it’s tough. We’ve mostly been playing half an hour, some days it’s even been 25 minutes because it’s been a tighter schedule. It’s definitely tough for us, yeah, with over 100 songs. I think we just try, you know, we’ve got a couple of set staples. We try to mix it up a little bit, but try to play a little something of everything. Some old stuff, some new stuff, some not so old stuff, you know? Try to pick the fan favorites, as well. I think, though, it’s cool to see people responding and reacting to our newer songs. We’re not just a nostalgic band that people are like, “Oh, I love that record from 15 years ago.” They’re really pumped up about our new stuff, and we’re putting out a new record in a week or two, so …People are fired up. It seems really cool.
Rei: It’s July 14th, I believe?
Billy: 14th, yeah.
Rei: That is so close. Looming, even. What songs are you most excited for fans to hear that you haven’t been playing live yet?
Billy: You know what, we actually just dropped a new track this morning in Germany via a German website, but I think you can check it out worldwide. The song’s called Whiplash, and it’s my personal favorite on the record. It’s the second last track, which is kind of cool because a lot of bands seem to put the favorite tracks at the beginning of the record, but I think that it’s a real anchor of the album. It’s like a kind of fast, upbeat song, and I think it’s cool to end the record with … I mean, the last song on the record is quite mellow and …
Rei: Brings it all back home.
Billy: It’s heavy and mellow. It’s real deep sounding, and it does kind of bring it all back home, but I think this record’s the real kind of smack in the face before … This song is the real smack in the face before the record’s over. My personal favorite. I think it really was one of the last songs to kind of come together in the studio, and I was like, “Oh, wow, I love this now.” You know, once I heard the hook in the chorus I was like, that makes the song for me. So check out Whiplash, you know?
Rei: If you can find it on the interwebs, otherwise it will be out very, very soon. You’ve created over 100 songs, how has the song process changed as you all have evolved?
Billy: Yeah, I think, I mean our writing process changed quite a bit a few records ago when we brought Paul Marc Rousseau along to play guitar. He’s a great songwriter and he’s contributed the bulk of our catalog since joining the band. He wrote a lot of this record and co-produced it, as well. He’s brought a lot to the table, as well I think like working with a new producer. This guy Derek Hoffman produced our record. He’s a Toronto guy and an old friend. Having his hand in the mix I think helped shape the songwriting.
I that what we’ve been trying to do is maintain a good aspect of what Silverstein is and what Silverstein’s been for 17 years, but still kind of keep up with what’s happening in music nowadays and be able to give it a fresh and modern kind of taste. With this record in particular we did a lot of writing in a heavier guitar tuning, so the songs do have a bit of a heavier sound to it, but I think then that just allowed us to put a little bit more of a pop kind of element to it and have it not be so poppy and radio sounding or something.
Rei: It still has that meat.
Billy: It allowed us to further the dynamic, I think. While we were able to get heavier we were able to get kind of poppier and the songs have bigger hooks and stuff without sounding kind of too cheesy or lame. I’m really happy with how it turned out, and I think people hearing the record next week are going to be really stoked.
Rei: As you’re playing Warped Tour you’re gaining new fans that haven’t heard you all before, or may not even be aware that you have such a vast catalog. What are you hoping that new fans take away from your performance?
Billy: I think just that realizing that we’ve been a band for a while, and that maybe some of their favorite bands that are younger might have been fans of ours or been influence by us, or that there’s all this back catalog for them to discover, you know? It’s not just about a new record, it’s not just about an old record, it’s about the whole package. We’ve got I think eight records now, so yeah, there’s a lot to dive into if people are just finding out about Silverstein now. Definitely dive in and check out, there’s a lot of great songs out there.
Rei: If you had to write the memoirs of Silverstein right now, what would be the things that stand out that would be in the first chapter?
Billy: I mean, I think we got our well known … We’re Canadian, we’re well known as being a real friendly band, so nice guys, very apologetic, you know? All the Canadian stereotypes. I think we like to party but we keep it pretty tame, you know? I think people would, yeah, know us as quintessential Canadians.
Rei: Are there any moments that stick out at you? Moments on tour, stories that you can share with us? Everybody loves a good story.
Billy: It’s always the toughest question when you’re put on the stop, it’s like, “What’s the craziest tour story?” And then you never remember because it’s lie every day is kind of the same.
Rei: How about this Warped?
Billy: This Warped so far … I don’t know. We just got a lot of good pals. We’ve toured with a lot of the bands. We’ve been hanging out pretty hard. We hosted the Canada Day barbecue the other day. I did some interpretive dance with the Canadian flag to Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On. That was pretty wild.
Rei: Multi-talented, this guy.
Billy: Yeah. I don’t know. Things don’t get too crazy for us. We were just in South America and Shane lost his passport, that was about as crazy as it gets.
Rei: That sucks.
Billy: But no, this Warped’s been cool. We got a lot of good friends and were meeting a lot of new friends. We’ve gotten pretty tight with Gwar, who we’re sharing a stage with. They’re veterans as well, but you know, we’ve been able to kind of get in behind the scenes with them and hang out with them outside of the costumes, I guess. They’re really great dudes and we’re stoked to be hanging with them. We obviously got good friends we toured with like Beartooth, and Hands Like Houses, and Hawthorne Heights. Counterparts are local friends of ours. There’s a lot of great bands that are here. Being as an Ocean, you know?
Rei: It seems like people keep talking about it like a family reunion or a rockstar camp, or something like that. Are there any bands that if you had a dream tour you would love to tour with that you haven’t yet? That’s a tall order because you all have done a tone.
Billy: That we haven’t yet. Well, it’s tough to say that we haven’t yet, because Warped Tour really does bring a lot of bands together. I just immediately thought we’ve been trying to do a tour with this band that I love called Defeater for a long time, but they were on Warped Tour three, four years ago and we toured with them then, so that’s tough to say. Trying to think. This new band that I would love to tour with that we have yet to be able to tour with is called Culture Abuse. I saw them a couple times, I love their record. I think they just signed with Epitaph. That would be a band I would love to take out on a tour. I met them, they’re cool guys, you know? Culture Abuse, what’s up? Come on tour with us.
Rei: I was going to say. Don’t worry, go. Google it right now.
Billy: Their record Peach is awesome. It was my favorite punk record last year.
Rei: That’s awesome. What advice would you have for local bands who are trying to do what you all have done?
Billy: I always just say just keep at it. Keep trying to play a lot of shows, recording your music as much as possible, constantly trying to make things better. Practice, play, record, tour. Get out there, you know? Just do it. I don’t want to just say practice makes perfect, but repetition makes perfect. Just keep doing it, pushing along, get your stuff out there. Get online, get your stuff on social media and just push it.
I feel like new bands often tend to wait for things to happen for them, like they just kind of say, “Oh, we’re going to do this and then we’ll wait and find a label to pick us up, or a promoter, or a booking agent.” It’s like, you got to do that stuff yourself, you know? DIY culture is still alive very much, and a lot of the time now labels, and managers, and booking agents are looking for that. Looking for you to do the work to show that you have the ambition and that you’re able to kind of draw a crowd and get people excited about your band yourself. So do it yourself, you know? Just get out there and do it.
Rei: Any other final words of wisdom for our fans back home?
Billy: I guess just check out the new Silverstein record, Dead Reflection. It’s coming in about a week.
Rei: July 14th.
Billy: July 14th.
Rei: So close.
Billy: I’ve lost track of the days. I’m very warped.
Rei: Nice pun there. I see what you did. Well, thank you so much for taking the time with us-
Billy: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Rei: And have a great rest of your Warped.
Billy: You as well. Cheers.