One recent night, while lying in bed in the darkness of the wee hours, I felt a strange chill pass over me. Suddenly, I heard a faint wail, and as I sat up in my drowsy, confused state, I saw an otherworldly apparition floating in the room...
Hey, who's there?!
I am thy father's spirit, doomed for a certain term to walk the night
Wait a minute you look like Ian Curtis, from Joy Division!
If thou didst ever thy dear father love, revenge his foul and most unnatural murder!
Huh? Murder? I thought you hanged yourself.
Gah, that was a joke, mate! It's Hamlet don't you Yanks read anymore? I might be dead, but I haven't lost my sense of humor.
Well, you never struck me as the funny type to begin with, but whatever. Anyway, what the hell are you doing here?
Arrrggh, I cannot rest in peace! I was rudely awoken from my eternal slumber by the how shall I say familiar strains of Interpol, Editors, I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness and about 375 other bands with singers that sound like me. Even so, I was willing to let it be. Y'know, it was almost flattering, and at least the music wasn't completely identical. But then I heard She Wants Revenge...
Oh yeah, hahaha, those dudes are ripping you off hardcore!
You're telling me, mate! I thought they were just another one of those tribute bands, y'know, like Joy Revision, dressing up like us and playing our songs note-for-note down at the pub every Thursday night for kicks and a few quid. But these twats are actually pretending to be an original band! And they won't even own up to it. Have you seen their MySpace page? They tried to bury Joy Division in their list of influences, putting it after Sofia Coppola, old Prince and Rosemary's Baby. Who are they trying to fool?!
Whoa, ghosts check out MySpace, too?
And bah, those song titles "Out of Control"? "Tear You Apart"?? Are you kidding me? I mean, what's the singer's name Ian Kurtis?
Actually I think it's that Justin Warfield dude he's some failed rapper or DJ or something from California.
Fucking hell! Can it get any more insulting? I wrote songs about alienation and desperation and isolation, not chicks pleasuring themselves in bathrooms. This is horrible! Is this what I've been reduced to? Is this what kids these days think I was all about? She Wants Revenge? I want revenge!! They must be stopped!
Why don't you do some scary ghost shit to 'em, like in one of those Sarah Michelle Gellar movies?
It doesn't work that way. Best I can do is moan and look dour in my collared shirt or maybe snatch the cables out of their guitar pedals while they're playing, if I really try. No, it's up to you to avenge me. You must spread the word about this brazen sham! You must skewer them in print whenever possible! You must shame them into submission! You must
OK, OK, I get it! I'll do what I can.
Adieu! Adieu! Remember me! I put my trust in you, in you, in you, in yooou....
Michael Alan Goldberg
8 p.m. Friday, April 21. Pop's, 1403 Mississippi Avenue, Sauget, Illinois. $15. 618-274-6720.
With almost a decade of political punk under their belts, Florida's Against Me! have seen their share of scene changes while doing their part to change the scene. Frontman Tom Gabel talks punk, politics and the politics of growing up punk.
B-Sides: Which came first for you: punk or politics?
Tom Gabel: Punk did. I stumbled into the music before the politics. The anger and rebellion was appealing. There was an undirected nihilism to it.
What was your moment of political awakening?
I was fourteen and I got beat up by the cops. It was July 4, and I was living in Naples, Florida. I had gone down to see the fireworks and was standing on the boardwalk looking for my friends. At the time I looked really punk rock you know, black spiked hair, ripped-up pants and a shirt that I hadn't washed in like months. The cops told me to get off the boardwalk. I started mouthing off. They pushed me up against the cop car, tied my wrists to my ankles. Sitting in the cell and being in a situation where you're under someone's control makes you realize how fucked up things are.
These days, you've got a decade on most of the kids coming to your shows. How do you think punk has changed since you were a teen?
It's weird. Things changed drastically. One of the things that contributes to it is the Internet. When I was growing up in Naples and in Missouri, where my dad lived, you were isolated. You had to invent things. You'd digest everything from records and zines. You'd buy a record and read who they thanked and check out those bands. You'd meet punks in other cities and write letters and become pen pals. No one writes letters anymore when they can write an e-mail. It's not as personalized.
How do you feel now, being on a major label and playing big venues, when you've written lyrics like, "Our arenas, just basements and bookstores across underground America"?
[Those words are] about striving for things and admitting you fall short of those things. I'm at a different place now, but that doesn't mean that I didn't mean 100 percent of it [at the time I wrote it]. I don't feel like we've done anything immoral. Record labels put out records. It's part of the equation.
On your demo you asked, "If I denounce the system, does it make a difference"? With all of the denouncing and some accepting of the system that Against Me! has done, how would you answer that question now?
I don't think saying something can make a difference. You can scream whatever you want, and unless you actually do something to back it up, it's not going to make a difference.
8 p.m. Monday, April 24. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard. $16 to $19. 314-726-6161.
For a while there, it seemed as though China would indeed adopt a system of democracy before we got a chance to hear the long-awaited Guns N' Roses album. After fifteen years and $13 million, Axl Rose (the band's only original member) announced that Chinese Democracy would be released sometime in 2006. Will the most expensive album ever made be worth it? Probably not, but we're excited anyway. Along with an assortment of fan favorites, Newgnr.com has posted live versions of a few songs rumored to appear on the upcoming album, including "The Blues" and the epic "Madagascar." Believe it or not, Axl's never sounded better. Go to www.newgnr.com/newgnr.html and click on "multimedia."