The 10 best Anti-Flag songs, by The Menzingers' Tom May
The Menzingers guitarist Tom May chooses the 10 finest moments from incendiary political punks Anti-Flag
Anti-Flag’s driving, explosive anthems stoke fires inside us that burn for ourselves, for the marginalised, for those with no fuel left to burn themselves, and for that persistent anxiety of knowing one may be the lone sane person in a completely insane world. This band taught me a whole lot more truth about influential 19th and 20th century socio-economic and political events than school ever did. Of course, those who don’t know the past are doomed to repeat it. With a rising fervour for authoritarianism gaining a foothold in the global consciousness, what better time than now to appreciate such a great fucking band?
While our brains do love them some numbers to make sense of, I've picked my personal 10 favourite Anti-Flag songs in no particular order...
You've Gotta Die For The Government
I discovered this song in high school, at the start of The Second Gulf War and subsequent occupation. We knew people from our area that went over there. This song was waiting for us at the intersection of coming of age, misfit rage and the relatively new personal revelation that the world was fucked and people believed huge lies wholesale. It was an anthem. I have some vivid memories of driving around in a friend’s van with this song on repeat. Some of those friends have passed. That is my fondest memory of them.
Drink Drank Punk
My group of friends had drunks and straight edge kids. This was a favourite common ground. The sober kids could make fun of us for acting like complete morons and getting shit-faced all of the time, and we could jam this great song ironically... well, maybe not too ironically.
Got The Numbers
This was one of the first Anti-Flag songs I had in a solid format. You see, I had a huge crush on this girl and she adored Anti-Flag, and this song in particular. I think she wrote “Got The Numbers” on every surface of everything she owned. I got a friend to put it on a tape and I made a mix for her. This has such a perfect A-F bridge in it. The drum roll that gets louder with a variation of the chorus broken down and chanted over it fills me with an energy that makes me want to explode out of my skin. What a great tune.
A New Kind Of Army
This song has it all. It has the rousing, anthemic anti-violent chorus that hooked me in. The guitar solo is perfect. They’ve got the ironic marching chant reminiscent of The Clash. The walking bassline... it’s all so good.
This Machine Kills Fascists
Besides being a ripper of a punk song, it also introduced me to Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. On the inside of the booklet there was a picture of Woody Guthrie and his guitar that had the sticker that said “This Machine Kills Fascists”, with a written blurb in there about him. I had no idea who he was and after learning more about him it opened up a whole world of folk music that I had no idea existed.
Spaz’s House Destruction Party
A story of punk rock debauchery with a catchy chorus complete with a mini-skit where they impersonate someone mouthing off the the cops? Fuckin' sold. I’ll take all of that I can get.
This song is almost theatrical in its imagery and ability to wake you right the fuck up. I saw them play this live at The Trocadero in Philadelphia and I was instantly hooked. I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
911 For Peace
There were so many emotions involved in everyday life after 9/11/01. It was difficult to vocalise dissidence with the utter explosion of nationalism in the United States. There were fuckin' flags everywhere. Fucking Enya was popular on the radio. Anti-Flag really helped a whole lot of people remain strong. They continue to provide an outlet to connect with other like-minded and like-hearted people in a world of shit.
After Brexit and The US election, my faith and trust in the mainstream press is gone. I’m all but convinced the poisonous symbiotic relationship between the intelligence community, the mainstream media, and their corporate ownership are dismantling American democracy. You guys are cool though! Ha!
This Is The End (For You My Friend)
What we’ve got here is a catchy banger to sum it up. A little self-reflection and a whole lot of big chorus. I love this song. When this song comes on at a party, or on shuffle, I’m definitely going to stop what I’m doing.
The Menzingers' new album After The Party is out now on Epitaph Records. You can catch them on tour at the dates below:
18 Apr: Talking Heads, Southampton, UK
19 Apr: Koko, London, UK
20 Apr: Academy 2, Manchester, UK
21 Apr: Bierkeller, Bristol, UK
22 Apr: Oran Mor, Glasgow, UK
23 Apr: The Venue, Derby, UK
24 Apr: Epic Studios, Norwich, UK
26 Apr: Underground, Cologne, DE
27 Apr: Musik & Frieden, Berlin, DE
28 Apr: Uncle M event, Munster, DE
29 Apr: Groezrock Festival, Meerhout, BE