On their recent jaunt of the UK, alongside Pennywise and A Wilhelm Scream, Faye caught up with Thomas Barnett, the socially and politically conscious frontman of punk renegades Strike Anywhere, in Newcastle. They discussed a plethora of topics, including his thoughts on the government, feminism and the recent immigration law of Arizona. Oh, and Cokie The Clown!
Faye: How are you today in Newcastle?
Thomas: Oh, we love Newcastle, we had a really good day. We’ve been walking around, we went to Blackfriers, and saw the wall. Some of my band mates went across the river and we just really like the city a lot, and learning about this area and how different it is – Tyne and Wear, the history of it. To be honest, we love the accent of the North – both the West and the East, and the different feel, it’s kind of less hectic, less metropolitan and the way Englishness manifests itself as well, there’s a little more melodic twist to it. We dig it, it’s really cool.
Faye: Do you usually get a chance to look around the cities you visit?
Thomas: On this tour, especially this part, we drive over night, get to the place in the morning and just walk around all day. So by this time, 6 or whatever, we’ve been walking for miles, trying to outdo each other with how many churches and castles we see, and reading all the plaques, and just being maniacs, so it’s been really fun on this tour and the weather’s been great. In Sheffield, we went to the centre where they have old castles and churches and a giant Ferris wheel actually, like “Woah, there’s a Ferris wheel!”
Faye: You were last over about six months ago in December, what have you been up to since then?
Thomas: Good question, I guess we’ve been touring since then and in between tours, many of us have moved house, which has been crazy. We toured the States and then we toured Japan and Korea, then we went to Florida and played an event with Billy Bragg and many other artists, then we did another benefit, South By Southwest, in Texas – that was also with 7Seconds and Fucked Up. Those were all amazing experiences, and going to Costa Rica, we played two shows there, one acoustic and that was pretty surprising, because 150 people came to a really nice bar that had candles lit, playing acoustic, and then we played a hardcore show the next day for 400-people. Then we went to the beach the next day and went swimming in the Pacific coast of Central America with a whole scene of hardcore kids.
Faye: The line-up for this tour is pretty big – you, Pennywise and A Wilhelm Scream – but this show appears to have been downgraded.
Thomas: Yeah, the size of the venue that we’re playing with Pennywise today is close to the size of a venue we’d expect to play on our own or something like that. We like the intimacy of it, in Europe, the shows are like 1500-2000 people, sold out, in tents – gigantic concerts, but these are a little closer to the community that we relate to, like smaller, sweaty shows.
Faye: Do you find that you generally have a similar fanbase with Pennywise?
Thomas: No, I think what happens is that some of the people like both bands and some of them are some of the people we see every time we come to the UK, and they’re here with another couple hundred people who don’t know us at all, but they’re still receptive and stuff. It’s interesting, maybe tonight will be different, but like last night in Sheffield, there was like 25 people who knew us and the rest were just like, “Hey, I’m trying to drink beer here.” [laughs] But it’s cool, that’s why we do these tours.
Faye: You’ve been going for about 10-years now, are you happy at the level you’re at? Or would you like to get bigger to spread your message to more people?
Thomas: I think if we could continue with how things are, the same level of like, the purity of our mission and the activist groups that we work with, and keep carrying the message that is important to us… I guess at some point, punk bands either decide to make certain operation decisions, which see them go from the underground into the mainstream, then ideas can become diluted, but then certain ideas can affect people on a bigger scale, or you play to the people that you love and community that you understand. I think we’re somewhere in between the two as it is, the future is unwritten, we don’t have to deliver a plan and recession is difficult for artists, so I think every time we come home with less and less money in our pockets to pay the bills that are already waiting for us and having find jobs between tours. These are the realities that we’ve always dealt with, we’ve never lived off the band, it’s never been like a profession, it’s more of a mission, we make up how to survive as we go along. The sad reality is, is that tours will be fewer and fewer, because we won’t be able to afford our homes and families, and then come back with no money, but we’re not resentful about it, these are just the hard facts of life. We don’t want to do anything stupid to become bigger and to play that lottery, and to play that game, other people will hijack their message and aesthetic, but that’s something we’ve never felt comfortable with. The truth is the economics are getting harder and harder every day, every month, every tour, and we’re one of hundreds of punk bands that can say the exact same things. People aren’t buying records any more, at all, so that makes things hard, but, yeah, that’s why we don’t take it for granted, every time we play a song in a different city, that’s tens of thousands of kilometres to wear we live, it might be the last time… But maybe not! We’re coming back for Reading and Leeds festival, so that’ll be fun. Things like that, festivals and stuff that have enough resources, a platform to draw bands to them, we’ll take a week around that to do small independent shows – like here and Scandinavia, for some reason, we’re doing Reading, then Finland, then Leeds, it’s the weirdest routing for a tour ever.
Faye: Will you be playing smaller, headline shows here around then?
Thomas: We’ll see, I hope so, but we’d have to do it under a different name. We did a headline show the other day under the name Iron Front, and that was really fun, so it’d probably be like that. That was just to not mess with the promotion, in regards to the radius of shows on this tour and to do it under the legal radar of permits and things like that, and it can be a proper DIY show. Our booking agent in Europe is find with it, it’s not like we’re trying to cheat the people who work for us, but we’re just trying to do a show that’s not in the same realm as the tour, and it’s works, it’s fun.
Faye: You were talking about your message before, what is Strike Anywhere’s message? Do you have a general ethos that you try to put out there?
Thomas: That’s a good question, I guess it changes all the time, we have about 65 songs and each one of those songs is like a story about people – singular or plural, a community – like me and you, and people we haven’t met, organising a status quo about surviving borderline fear. We have songs about police brutality, surviving rape, family violence. We have a song about people surviving the government and people surviving a distorted history that’s sold to them by giant billionaire lobbies and media machines in our country that are poisoning public discourse, and it gets really complicated when you currently have a president who maybe a more moral and more intelligent person than you’ve ever seen in your life time, but you also have to still acknowledge that they’re at the centre of that office – the executive office of our country is just an aspect of the power that runs everything. I think for us, it’s not about conspiracy theories and punk rockers who are hysterical about everything, there are solutions, there are ways communities organise the mutual aid to participate in our economics – there’s something that started in Scotland called the LETS, which stands for the Local Exchange Trade Systems. We’re trying to utilise our intelligence and our compassion to move civilisation past this point of no return, this dead end that we’re in with capitalism, with war machines, with these false dualities of west vs. east, of south vs. north. So, I think, over the years, we’re just a punk band slogging away with our songs, but the way we’ve related to the communities and places we’ve been guests of… Like we wrote a song about racist police brutality and racial profiling of communities of colour in working-class neighbourhoods, we get to be helpless witnesses to this, as punk rock artists who also live in these neighbourhoods, alongside black and Latino working-class families, who have been historically exploited and systematically destroyed by white supremacists of a corporate military state. Then we go to Australia, we like, “Oh, shit! We’re going to play a show, it’s awesome!” then we hear about the killings by police against Aboriginal children in cities and as well as the red farm riots where Aboriginal communities finally fought back, against police suppression. This is the same story that we told 12,000 miles away, how could we have ever known, that these things are so resident and how tragic is it that they are? That’s a part of how I describe our message, our message is that these stories and ideas that are continually being written and added to the people we sing songs to, I guess it’s like putting across the full process of human rights and justice.
Faye: Being the mouthpiece of Strike Anywhere, are your band mates as socially and politically conscious as you?
Thomas: Oh yeah, and they also are part of animal rescue networks and anti-racist action, doing whatever they can do in our hometown and beyond. Also, they help me, they help me write, if they feel there’s a better way to say something or if there’s way too many words in a verse or something, they’ll help boil it down, they’re like my editors.
Faye: With Strike Anywhere, you seem to have a very loyal following, I don’t think I’d go as far as saying cult-like, but I know so many people with Strike Anywhere logo tattoos, why do you think this is?
Thomas: We’re honoured to have them on the team. I don’t think we allow to have any mystery in our band, we’re just regular folks and we’re obviously touring so much and putting out records, that we’re not at the frontline of the causes that we even sing about, but we’re an aspect of a community that is more richer and more engaged, and far more courageous than the individuals in Strike Anywhere. There’s an absurdity involved where people look up to people in punk bands as leaders of a movement, but really, we’re at the back of the movement, we’re just writing it down as it happened and making the songs, and maybe these can exchange information and keep people inspired, but we don’t for a minute think that we’re charismatic leaders or mysterious figures, we’re just regular down-to-earth people. I don’t know, maybe people like they can join the team, and they can. Again, we learn more about what we sing about from our audience and the communities that take the songs and run with it, like a weapon in their arsenal of resistance, like something hopeful, something you can celebrate with your friends at the end of a bad week at work or school, and feel like there’s a future. Those are the things that all kinds of music has given to us, and we’re just trying to reflect that back, to carry it along.
Faye: So, since you’re on the road so much, you’re not as able to keep up-to-date with the world as much as you’d like to?
Thomas: I try to buy a newspaper from wherever I am, in whatever language, and try to figure it out over the course of the year and, of course, the digital age has made it more easy to keep up with things back home. So, sometimes I feel like I know more about the world than when I’m at home, not living the 9 to 5, you’ve got a little bit more time on the road, and you’re in somewhere new every day, and it’d be stupid of me not to realise what a special thing that is, and what a rare event it is for me to be in Newcastle or Moscow or Helsinki or South Korea or all the different places we’ve been. It’s always special and you’ve got to know the law of the land a bit, the politics and how people relate, not just being in their nation state, but all of the historic values of the place; very important.
Faye: I’m sure you know right now, it’s all about the mess of the General Election, here in England...
Thomas: It’s kind of like the theatre of politics written in large. At home, we have the republicans and democrats, there are stated difference in the two parties, but they’re both owned by corporate wealth behind the congress, everything is already made up before votes are cast. There’s only a few legislators that are truly independent of corporate influence on either side of the isle, as they say in congress. What passes for ideology in our country is also earned by churches, the other corporation, so for us we have these dualities, which are sickening and scary, and believe it or not, scarier with Obama president than before when George Bush was president. We were smashing the Earth with war and we’re still doing it, nothing’s changed on that level, but I think what you guys have is crazy. It’d be like if our Green Party and our far-right, the Republicans, got together, but still, in the UK, everything is a little more to the centre than the way things are in the States, things are a little more rational here, I think. Your system has more built-in checks and balances, even though it looks absurd from the outside, I just don’t understand what can happen with that. Maybe everyone’s so tired of Labour it’s just like a protest from all sides. I wouldn’t mind if we had a party that resembled Labour, I don’t think our Democrats do a good enough job. You guys have got a Green Party that got a seat as well, that’s interesting, and your BNP lost their two seats, which is a nice bit of collateral damage. So, I learn about these things being in the UK. I still don’t know what it means, I don’t know what can happen with your coalition. We try to keep up, we followed the Burnley Riots in 2001, seeing the racial conflict, and exploitation of both poor, working-class white people and South Asian families, and seeing the BNP try to capitalise on it is disgusting.
Faye: Do you have an equivalent party in the States?
Thomas: No, but we have a far-right of our far-right wing of the Republican party, they manifested as this quasi libertarian group called the Tea Party, but they’re not so much a political party as they are a grassroots virus, but they’re fake grassroots. They’re actually brainstormed by a conservative think-tank group that’s paid to invent grassroot political parties, obviously, they’re not grassroots, but they’re fairly racist in the way that they’re against immigration and try to define what Americans are, as opposed to who they aren’t. White supremacist hate-groups have been on the rise since Obama’s election and all these different libertarian groups that are anti-government, but they’re also anti-government in the way that they’re also anti-immigrants and taking America back from its federalism, which means when they say state ‘rights’, they mean state rights to oppress everyone in the name of who owns the state, which will be a big corporation. Especially in the south east, where it’s poorer, so you’ll have oil companies or tobacco companies just owning the political process, and that’s all the way from Virginia to Louisiana, where the oil spill is happening right now. So, our checks and balances are more complex, but the way we look at it, is these Tea Party people, they’re still a function of big business, masquerading as government and all they want to do is to convince the working class to destroy itself, and that’s something we can’t afford to happen. I feel that’s the way the anti-racist action in the north has been successfully been fighting against the influx of the BNP in villages. The symbol, the Strike Anywhere symbol, was used by the SDP, to fight back the BNP, in the late eighties/early nineties, both through information, as well as on the street – when necessary. I would see flyers from punk shows that friends of mine in England would send back in the mail, before e-mail, with the symbol on it. It really comes back to the English and European tradition of fighting fascism, even though we have this anti-racist symbol identify with our band, it really goes way before our band.
Faye: Are you happier with your government since Obama is in power?
Thomas: We’re not happy with the United States government, like at all, we think it’s very corrupt, owned by corporate wealth and the militarily industrial complex.
Faye: Do you vote?
Thomas: Yeah, so, in this way, we’re looking for compromise, where we’re like, if you don’t vote, what will happen? And if we do vote, what will happen? We recognise that we do everything we can to spread the idea of communities participating for themselves and opting out, and having a way to exchange goods and information that puts them outside a national or international global scheme. At the same time, it’s symbolically important that Obama was elected, it’s symbolically positive, because exploited populations in our country are paying attention for the first time, they feel involved. If Obama disappoints them, then it leaves them wondering, if this is what we thought would be fair, where is the justice in the system in its entirety? It’s a radical window for people, even if their cynicism is engaged and their hearts are broken, they’ll have a chance to find a new way to live out their politics, because they’re finally paying attention – everyone is awake. If Obama doesn’t disappoint on every single level, if he actually does things, even in fields where he’s compromised, it’ll be an interesting moment because it’s easy to take Obama’s enemies and see them – a lot of them are just using code for racism. American politics is just theatre, it’s just a game, you can see that in the chessboard of your hung election, it’s almost as if we’re always in that state. It’s always like a majority of Republicans in Congress, and then a Democrat president or vice versa, and a little miniature version happens in each of the States – you have a governor who’s Republican, and then you have a Democratic house. All of these things are just to keep the status quo, to keep the money flowing upwards. I think there’s an opportunity for more and more people to see, before it was easy to hate Bush because he was the most brilliant cartoon of what an American president is – pretending to be from region, pretending to be a working class Texan rancher, born in Connecticut, blue-blooded, never gone shopping for himself his whole life, an idiot son of privilege, and Obama is not that, which is interesting. Just being from the south, we played a show on election night, and we saw our State go blue, which in the electoral system means, our state of Virginia went for Obama. It was so crazy, because 600,000 stolen African women and children were brought to the docks at our city, 200-years ago, and sold, so what that meant was important. That catharsis running through our city when Obama was elected was so important to be a part of, jumping up and down on the streets with everyone in Richmond, which was a lot of people; it was just an awesome experience.
Faye: The past few times I’ve seen Strike Anywhere live, you’ve made a point to talk positively about women in the scene, why do you feel strongly about that?
Thomas: Because it feels like the world is being destroyed by a hyper-masculine, psychic virus. I think punk, in a way, is an original place for androgyny and questioning dominant gender values. Religion has done an amazing job, through guilt and cornering the market of what people describe as ethics and morality, making you and your sisters second class citizens for thousands of years, and it does dishonour to us, as males, that this is happening. This is the way we can sell this idea, this feminism to honour men, it’s not to talk about like, “You need to feel bad.” because that shit doesn’t work. I wish it worked, but it doesn’t. We need to talk about what it means to men that our sisters, who are co-equals, and, in many ways, the reason why our civilisation is so fucked up and shut down and bloodied by war, and preposterous ways of politics and religion is because of what we’ve done to women over the years – many, many years. I think there’s a slow movement towards that in makeshift politics, we have a Supreme Court justice who is female, that’s awesome. A lot of these movements are interesting, but they’re slow for all the other achievements we’ve made in civilisation. I’ve known females who have been hurt, abused and raped, or both, and there’s an entire culture devoted to that. We have such a demented and twisted sense of what is attractive, what is sexual. We have both a system of values that looks at youth that is both psychically twisted and dangerous, and we also have a very pure and locked up thought as far as sexual morality. We can definitely keep blaming religion for all of this, and it is a part of it, but we also have to look at ourselves and the way we react and treat each other, and all that. I think we’d all be better off if we all recognised the feminine aspect of our condition as individuals and as civilisation and a species. Also, as a vegan, I see a lot of what we do to animals – animal exploitation, factory farming, industrialised sadism of the fur and fashion industry, so everyone can have the meat that they desire, but not need. Everyone can have the dairy products that they desire, but not need. It’s an aspect of our hyper-masculinisation. It’s like we’re men who inherit the world for God and we can do whatever we want to these beings, because even though it’s so obvious that they feel terror and pain and love, the same exact way we do, we share 99% of our genetics with the animal kingdom, and we still treat them like this. I see that as an exponent of this sexism and chauvinism, the destruction of our biological destiny as co-equals. Anyway, that’s how we feel, none of us were born homosexual, maybe a few of us are in the spectrum of being open to being attracted to other sexes, but we all have significant others who are female in our lives – our mothers, sisters. So, that would be the most simple way I can explain, in what I probably explained in a complex way. [laughs]
Faye: Do you consider yourself to be a feminist?
Thomas: I do, I’m not one for academics and I associate a lot of these things with university radicalism that especially in the nineties was in bloom, in many cities in the States, and I’m not sure it did a lot of good for these ideas. I think punk rock at its best, starts with a simple approach, a really humane and personal approach to these ideas, and if people want to take that and work on it and add to it, it’s important. The song that we have, Chalkline, that’s the most feminist of our songs. It deals with an awesome group of women who are punk feminists in our city in Richmond, who did a chalk outline – I don’t know if your police do these things, but whenever there’s a body from a murder, they do a chalk outline. Well, they did that for every place in our city where a woman was raped or assaulted in chalk, and it was the most amazing, simple protest that I’ve ever see, it was perfect. So, that’s what’s Chalkline is about and that’s how I kind of feel about feminism.
Faye: The song The Crossing, from your most recent record, Iron Front, touches upon immigration, what you think about the recent Arizona immigration laws?
Thomas: They’re hateful, horrible, and they’re also politically pandering. It’s not as if they’re ideologically pure conservative right-wing bullshit, not that I respect that more. It’s just crazy, it’s like a corporate scramble to try advertise something, they’re trying to figure out where their demographic is, ‘Should we become these type of fascists, or should we be more like these kind of fascists?’ Then they get more money from these conservative lobbies to go this way or to go that way. Anywhere, it’s fucking horrible, but the great thing about humanity is that will always find a way to push through. There’s no fence high enough, there’s no river strong enough to keep us. We passed through the port at Calais on the way here, and we know that’s a place where so many people try to get here, to find a life where they’re not dodging bullets, to find a life where they’re not starving, where families want to come to contribute and just be a part of peace and civilisation. In some ways, it’s like all the different folks, who generations ago, the labour of their ancestors was harvested so the UK could be what it is now. It’s the same for America, so I feel it’s a part of our great evening of our consciousness to have this happen, to make boarders non-existent and to share the wealth of the planet with the people we stole it from, from generations ago. Here, there’s also all these other factors at play of your social welfare system. I’ve heard many statistics saying that London pretty much makes the money for the rest of the UK, because all of your industries have been exported in the name of some kind of globalisation. Also, the led and arsenic factories, it’s good that there’s no more people just walking around with their cauldron of boiling led or arsenic. [laughs] It’s the changes in technology, but it’s also been perverted by globalised economics and I think that explains a lot why there’s no industries to support the North on its own, and then London gets resentful and then it becomes something, it’s a piece of politics for conservatives to rally their anti-immigration platform around. Really, though, it’s their policies that have exported the extraction of resources in the places in the first place, it’s like they’ve gained both sides and that’s what we sort of know about the counterparts in the US. So, yeah, for them to say that these people don’t have the right to come here, do we have the right to go there? Let’s talk about that. The thing is, when you trade in anger, which is what we do, we allow for people to be angry in public space and then to hopefully have catharsis, to engage our anger in something stronger than just helplessness and it’s us too, we are having a moment to do that with the audience. There’s that give and take, which is very important, but it’s a vulnerable place, so if the BNP has an inner town hall, they get to see the facts, the ones I just said, but they reverse them saying, “These people come here, they took your jobs, what are you going to do?” It’s that same public manipulation of emotion, especially when with how reserved your culture is, and us! We have the same emotional issues that our British cousins do, we’re happy to be emotional in some way, but not really carry it over into why we’re happy to let the rest of the world starve, so that we can have a fucking shitty Walmart and eat plastic. It’s weird because everyone is starving, really… Sorry, The Crossing deals with that too. [laughs]
Faye: Your album before Iron Front, Dead FM seems to get a lot of flak, I’ve never really understood that, it’s probably my favourite of your releases. How do you feel about the criticism it receives?
Thomas: We’ve also talked to people who say it’s their favourite too, I don’t really know. I think it’s flattering, I think journalists like to pick up on different things to maybe create like a sense of short memory, because when Dead FM came out, people were like, “Oh, they’ve gone back to their roots because Exit English was a departure that we didn’t understand and now they’ve come back!” [laughs] So, now, we’re kind of getting the same view on Iron Front is that “They’re back! Dead FM was strange and it was out there, not many people liked it.” But didn’t you say that about Exit English?! Wait a minute. So, either nobody ever liked our records until the new record came out or most people realise that it’s not that different. [laughs] We’re not trying to be repetitive, we don’t want to write the same song over and over again, they’re all individual, they’re all each our babies or whatever. Maybe the production changes, like we want things to be a little harder or a little cleaner or we want more folky-jangly guitars or we don’t, but it’s punk, we love it still, so it’s going to sound kind of the same, I guess we’re not precious about it. It’s ok if people don’t like records, and I’m not saying that people’s opinion’s aren’t necessary, because they are, but to us were like, “Yeah, that was good! This sounds good too! Thanks!” or whatever. [laughs] We’re just kind of like that about it, we’re not like ‘artists’, we don’t think that everything we’ve done has been like a statement and either you got it or you didn’t, we’re not like Muse. [laughs] Actually, this is the best story ever, we did a human rights injustice festival for democracy Taipei, Taiwan, it was in a soccer stadium with 9000 people and Muse played, we opened for Muse! There were some Taiwanese punks there and they were fucking awesome, but it was also a family’s day out picnic, a huge festival, but the strangest thing about it is that it was commemorating a historical massacre of a democratic protest in ’84 that didn’t officially exist in the history of the government. It was kind of a protest against China and the rickety relationship that Taiwan has with China, it was really weird, and men that had disappeared and had been quietly released, made their first appearance, like “I’m alive!” If you mixed the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela, but you take it to the scale of the relationship between Taiwan and China, which many folks in the West don’t really know all the details about, you get these guys that were stage-diving with these banners, and they were like 50/60-year-old men! It was amazing, they were like bouncing on the crowd, then we did our thing and it was really crazy and funny. When I was jumping up and down, they were like, “Yay! You’re the crazy person!” It was very strange, but in the end, we learned so much. We got to feel like were part of something, those people took the risk to have this festival for human rights that could have been shut down, could have angered China, all of these things that they risked and we were happy to be a part of it. It was really awesome to Muse, just, to be honest, as musicians, they’re fucking crazy and I think the bassist was in an old melodic punk band called The Senseless Things, back in the nineties, and I loved that band. So, I was stoked on that.
Faye: Iron Front was released on Bridge Nine Records, was that part of a one or multiple album deal?
Thomas: We really like Bridge Nine, so maybe we’ll do another one. We always try to do a one-off, whenever we feel like it, but I think with the Bridge, we said we’d do two, because they just have such an attention to detail and it feels like a good home for us, and it’s back on the east coast. We love Fat Wreck Chords and they were very generous and good to us. We’re not sure where we fit aesthetically, we’re probably more of a hardcore band from the east coast, if you have to say things like that, which we don’t really care about. California punk is very different from what we do and the community we come from and what we understand. We love it over there and we have great friends, and we think that Fat Mike’s a crazy genius, sometimes more crazy than genius, and sometimes more genius than crazy.
Faye: What did you think of his Cokie The Clown performance?
Thomas: That’s not our favourite thing that he done, I think he’s missing the mark on it, but maybe not, I’m happy to be proven wrong! [laughs] He’s smart enough, but it feels a little like a train wreck, to me, and it seems a bit too abstract of a message, but I know he just wants to anger the religious right in America and I’m all for that. I mean, I’ll take a bullet for Fat Mike, he’s a good person and it’s not up to me to decide whether what he’s doing is right or wrong, he’s amazing, and he’s been very generous to our band, he believed in us. But, yeah, Bridge Nine is awesome, they’re straight edge, they’re hardcore, they’ll never do anything like Cokie The Clown, that’s important too. Another thing, I think Bridge Nine is something really special to be a part of, like the company we keep on that label, it’s almost like this funny, spontaneous collection of all our old friends that are all now in great bands, in the past 10-years of our existence from the east coast, I love it. Our friend Derek, who’s now the vocalist of Defeater, he used to hang with us the whole time we’d be in New England, in those five states, playing shows – New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts – just making sure we got to the cities ok, like our tour mom.
Faye: So, at the minute, are you just concentrating on touring?
Thomas: We have so much material that was in the kitchen for Iron Front that is still cooking, that we kind of like that. Songs on Iron Front, some of them were little ideas all the way back from Exit English, so we kind of keep it cooking until the right day happens, and I hear it and put lyrics to it, and my band mates like it, then they get ideas, they build on it. So we have a lot of stuff that’s already there, we have an album’s worth of stuff that we like already – in fact, more than an album’s worth, some of that stuff isn’t all good [laughs], but some of it might be. We have talked about doing a cover of Big Country by Big Country, an eighties song, the Scottish band, but that might be because we’re crazy and we’ve been on tour for a while, and we’re just coming up with funny ideas. [laughs] But we still have so many songs for Iron Front that we want to play live, we still feel that the record’s new, I guess. We’re still stoked.
Faye: What’s next for Strike Anywhere?
Thomas: We go to Canada to visit our Commonwealth cousins with Bane and Touche Amore, it’s going to be the shit, we’re so stoked on it, and Shirts For A Cure and PETA2 are going to be on the tour. Also, 100% For Haiti, which is our friend Greg, who is in an awesome Seattle hardcore band called Trial – you should check out, he’s going to be out on the tour and speaking, so it’s going to be full of great ideas and great people, and we love Bane, it should be a lot of fun.
Faye: Change the record, who should we be listening to?
Thomas: Our friend Helen Chambers, she sings and plays guitar and it’s amazing – forceful, ferocious, intelligent, acoustic, folk punk. Of course, bands you already know, Defeater, are amazing. There’s bands from Richmond that we love, Landmines are really good, Lemuria, it feels like there’s something really cool happening again with punk music and Bridge Nine seems to be finding these bands first, or those bands seem to be going directly to Bridge Nine. Dead To Me, I love Dead To Me, they’re on tour with Against Me! in the States and they’re fucking killing it, they’re having the best time. In fact, half of our band went on tour just for the Virginia part of the Against Me!/Dead To Me tour as their roadies, that’s how close we are with them. This band called No Friends, which are members of Municipal Waste and New Mexican Disaster Squad, and it’s kind of a super band of our Virginia/Florida friends connection. There’s so many bands I’m forgetting right now, but that’s the tip of the iceberg for sure. I love Ruiner too. There’s someone recently that I thought was fucking awesome, I can’t remember right now, because my mind is mush. But, yeah, we’re always on the lookout for new bands to have good times. Oh, and Soul Control is great too, just go to the Bridge Nine website. [laughs]
Faye: Do you have anything else to say before we finish?
Thomas: It’s always good to be up here and we’re not here often enough, so we’ll try to remedy that if we can.
– Faye Turnbull.
Many thanks to Thomas for the interview, and for more information on Strike Anywhere, visit: www.myspace.com/strikeanywhere