A decade ago, Tom Gabel began his music career as a 17-year old solo acoustic act known as Against Me!, belting out songs of rebellion in Laundromats and any other venue that would have him.
Flash forward to today, and Gabel´s agitation cycle is still cranked high, but not without a wild streak of optimism thrown in for good measure. For the past five years, the gravelly roar of the vocalist/guitar player has been part of a thunderous and thoughtful foursome featuring Andrew Seward (bass), Warren Oakes (drums) and James Bowman (guitar), still doing business under the Against Me! moniker. Churning out a distinctive blend of punk, rock, and even folk that is impossible to label, they have toured all 50 states and foreign lands from Iceland to Australia, forging an intense connection with their growing legions of fans.
Bass player Seward, who joined Against Me! in 2002, says the new step forward for the band is "not a new adventure-- it´s an extension of the adventure. It´s something we wanted to do-- we own this move [to a major label]." New fans drawn by the incendiary 2006 "Jimmy Kimmel Live" performance of Former Clarity´s sizzling screed "From Her Lips To God´s Ears (The Energizer)," with its plaintive chorus of "Condoleeza! What are we gonna do now?" will find more in store. The former "Army brat" (until his parents divorced when he was 12) has stepped up to the plate and cranked out two more raucous fist-pumpers about war and national identity.
Wide-eyed and world-weary. Never naïve, but often idealistic, Against Me! is in many ways the punk-rock embodiment of Matthew Modine´s character, "Private Joker," in the classic Stanley Kubrick film Full Metal Jacket. They´re flashing peace signs in a seething mosh pit, and there´s no place else they´d rather be.