Talking fear, cynicism and puppies with Justin Sane 

Punk quartet Anti-Flag to play the GLC March 14

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - AMERICAN SPRING Anti-Flag will play the GLC on Saturday, March 14. From left: Pat Thetic, Chris#2, Chris Head, Justin Sane.
  • Photo submitted
  • AMERICAN SPRING Anti-Flag will play the GLC on Saturday, March 14. From left: Pat Thetic, Chris#2, Chris Head, Justin Sane.

Let's get one thing straight: There are things that scare Justin Sane — lead guitarist and singer/songwriter for punk quartet Anti-Flag — but terrorism is not one of them.

"For me personally, I fear corporations, I fear bankers and I fear politicians," Sane said with a laugh during a phone call from his hometown of Pittsburgh.

"That's what I'm afraid of. I'm not afraid of getting mugged on the street. I'm not afraid of Osama bin Laden and ISIS."

And yet, a decade removed from the release of Anti-Flag's George Bush-skewering, Iraq-War-hating album The Terror State the North American culture of fear runs rampant.

It's a time-tested strategy that has proven very powerful over the years, Sane said.

"I really believe that the current media structure and political structure want people to become cynical," he said.

"They want people to be afraid and become cynical and feel like they can't make a change, because when people give up, when people become cynical, that's when they win."

It's safe to assume Sane won't be giving up anytime soon.

Sane — real name Justin Geever — has been playing in Anti-Flag for more than half of his life.

Since forming in 1993, the band has put out nine full-length albums with a 10th — American Spring on the way this May.

They'll bring their polished brand of punk-rock fury to the Garibaldi Lift Co. on Saturday, March 14.

The show in Whistler falls between a string of dates in which the band is playing The Terror State in its entirety.

"It's interesting to revisit the record and look at what was going on at the time when we were writing it, right in the midst of the anti-war movement, the buildup to the Iraq War," Sane said.

"What's really interesting, and telling, is that many of the things that the anti-war movement predicted would happen as a result of the invasion of Iraq, happened — with so much instability now in that region, and the cost in human lives and the cost in gold and treasure, and so that's pretty interesting to reflect back upon."

Ten years later, Sane believes the underlying message found on The Terror State remains relevant — if not quite as powerful.

"I think that there was a lot of burnout after eight years of George Bush," he said.

"In the end, I think that people expected something different with Obama, and yet the reality is that America is still a nation that is aggressively attacking people with our military, and Obama has launched many more drone strikes than George Bush ever did."

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

The head of state may have changed, but America is still fighting the same "imperial, corporate war" it began in the wake of 9-11, Sane said.

"When that kind of foreign policy is put into action, it's put into action to serve a few elite corporations, and very wealthy people. It's not to make us safer," he said.

"So these are issues that are still relevant, and that we need people to think about and get engaged with."

I suppose one good thing about being a pissed-off punk rocker is that you're never short on inspiration, I say.

"Yeah, I mean it's really true," Sane says.

"I wish there was a shortage of subject matter. I wish that I was writing songs called 'Rainbows, Puppies and Flowers,' but unfortunately there's a lot of injustice in the world."

But while injustice hasn't gone anywhere, protest music has died down somewhat under Obama, Sane said.

"When it comes to the Obama administration they've almost gotten a free pass, and I think that's unfortunate," he said.

"I've been disappointed in the music community and the punk rock music community in particular, because I think that punk rock is a community that is traditionally on the progressive edge and ahead of the curve, and in general, I think that a lot of punk bands have just decided they don't want to be bothered to take that kind of stand.

"So that's another reason why we decided it was time to revisit (The Terror State), and have that voice be heard again and serve as an example."

But for all the fear mongering, all the propaganda and injustice, Sane said it's important to keep pushing back.

"Don't be cynical. Don't give up. There is hope," he said.

"I know that there's a lot of bleakness and ugliness out there, but for all the bad things you see there are amazing and incredible people who are out there working to make the world a better place, and you just have decide: Do you want the world to be a better place or do you want to give up?

"And I think we all want the world to be a better place."


Readers also liked…

Latest in Music

More by Braden Dupuis

© 1994-2020 Pique Publishing Inc., Glacier Community Media

- Website powered by Foundation