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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

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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