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Anti-Flag’s Politics Take Center Stage

Performing in Russia last week, the U.S. punk band’s concert was as much a political rally as a performance.

Published: July 2, 2014 (Issue # 1818)



  • U.S. punk band and political activists Anti-Flag.
    Photo: RCA Records

  • Drummer Pat Thetic, left, poses with a local fan at last week’s concert.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / for SPT

Amid no-shows, bans and cancellations — Marilyn Manson just had his concert banned in Novosibirsk and canceled due to a hoax bomb threat in Moscow — Anti-Flag, one of the most vocally political U.S. punk bands, performed three concerts in Russia last week.

In St. Petersburg, the band’s frontman Jason Sane denounced homophobia, nationalism and sexism to the cheers of hundreds of fans.

With the band’s short speeches and songs like “No More Dead,” “Die for the Government” and “Power to the Peaceful,” Anti-Flag, who take part in or perform at protests, effectively turned the show into a political rally.

In Moscow, the band, which spoke out in defense of the imprisoned Pussy Riot members two years earlier, supported the people jailed in Moscow over the May 6, 2012 anti-Kremlin protest on Bolotnaya Square by having their photo taken with the poster “Free Bolotnaya prisoners.”

Ahead of their local concert, The St. Petersburg Times sat with drummer Pat Thetic, who co-founded Anti-Flag with Sane in 1993.

Q: Are you the right band to talk about the connection between art, music and politics?

A: Well, we are a band that blends those things together. We are not the only band in the world, but we are very passionate about it. Because I think every revolution has a soundtrack, and I think that music has the power to inspire people to make change. I don’t think music changes things on its own, but music inspires people and people make change.

Q: Where did the connection come from?

A: We come from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Pittsburgh has a history of union, and in the late 1800s there was a lot of steel production in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, so there was a lot of union. A lot of immigrant workers came in and unionized and fought against the steel owners, and the steel owners beat them down. So in Pittsburgh there is a strong union tradition of “we need to stick together and work towards a common goal.” That leftist idea of union and bringing people together to change things has always been part of Pittsburgh, which then came into our music.

Q: How did you come up with the name for the band?

A: Justin came up with it. In the late 1980s-early 90s, there was this weird time in the history of punk rock music when people would say “pledge allegiance to the flag” and had this really nationalist thing going on. And we thought it was really stupid, because we thought that punk rock music was supposed to be an anti-establishment music, and being proud of Americans and stuff like that we thought was very establishment and we thought it was very stupid, and we wanted to make a statement against that. So we came up with idea of Anti-Flag.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Sunday, Nov. 23


Get in the holiday spirit at today’s Winter Bazzar at the Astoria Hotel. Featuring gifts from around the world such as French eclairs, Dutch cheeses and Indian jewelry, the annual event organized by the International Women’s Club will feature 18 international stands and raise money for charity through the sales of a diversity of products that further illustrate the city’s international connections.



Monday, Nov. 24


Dr. Axel Schulte, Department Head at Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmund, Germany, is the featured speaker at the SPIBA Industrial Committee lecture on “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Digitalization of the Supply Chain.” The event begins at 4 p.m. at the Graduate School of Management at 3 Volkohvsky Pereulok and registration is required by Nov. 21 either by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.



Tuesday, Nov. 25


Tag along with AmCham during their “Industrial St. Petersburg” Tour program today. This incarnation of the ongoing series will visit Philip Morris Izhora and include an Environmental Health and Safety Committee meeting.


Find out how to expand your business east during the “Business With China” forum beginning today and concluding tomorrow at the Lenexpo convention center. The largest Russian forum dedicated to business with the Asian giant, topics that will be discussed include logistics, customs clearance, trade financing and many more.



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