Playbill

Don't tell Pittsburgh natives Anti-Flag that the days of politically driven punk music are over. In a genre dominated by copycats bemoaning romantic hardships or bragging about how punk they are, Anti-Flag still cranks out tunes with the rebellious convictions of years past.

Growing up in a home where activism was encouraged -- and where the radical rants of the Clash, the Sex Pistols and Black Flag poured from his siblings' speakers -- Anti-Flag leader Justin Sane came to politics quite organically. "When I came across information about how screwed up things were, I decided to write about issues of injustice," he says.

He continues to employ this approach today, notably on the band's latest release, A New Kind of Army. Such songs as "Free Nation?" and "We Got the Numbers" serve as the blueprint for bringing social issues to the forefront.

All seriousness aside, Anti-Flag does not want to be construed as an uptight band stuck in the past. While the group does incorporate elements of punk's glory days, it does not offer them in the same sonic package. The group employs more contemporary production techniques, often inspired by its peers.

What also separates Anti-Flag from its past -- and from most of its contemporaries -- is the band's positive vibe. "Since we are a punk band, we are [considered] a party drinking band," Sane says. "For me, when I was younger, most of the people I saw around me were messed up. When I found out about straight-edge" -- the belief that abstaining from drugs, drinking and smoking is better for the body and soul -- "I found a place I can belong."

Anti-Flag doesn't force its views on people, but the people seem to be converting to Anti-Flag anyway. "I'm seeing that a lot of kids want a lot more than just pop songs. With our music, people say, 'Thank God, it's about time.' Kids want to do positive things," Sane says, "but they don't know how."

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Danny Perez