While some bands dream of having their video on MTV, playing Wembley Stadium, or winning a Grammy, alterna-punk band Against Me! frontman Tom Gabel has smaller-scale aspirations. “It is actually my dream to one day sell out the 40 Watt or the Music Farm,” he declares. Selling out the infamous Southern clubs seems like a small feat for a band that’s well on their way to much larger success.
With the summer release of New Wave came features in major music mags as well as nationwide buzz. If the success continues, Gabel and his mates — James Bowman (guitar), Andrew Seward (bass), and Warren Oakes (drums) — just might have to set their sights on some loftier goals.
Hailing from Gainesville, Fla., Against Me!’s origins date back to 1997 when a 17-year-old Gabel began playing out as a solo artist. Since then, he and friends have evolved into a bona fide band and developed a loyal grassroots following. The band inked a deal with a major label Sire in 2005.
“We were completely nervous from many angles because you’re nervous that you’re making this horrible mistake and you’re gonna get tied up in a label that isn’t good for you and is really bad for your band,’ says Gabel. “And you’re worried that everyone’s gonna call us sell-outs.”
Against Me! shouldered the minor backlash and made a conscious effort to avoid any classic major-label rookie mistakes going forward. They confronted a freshman pitfall head-on: selecting a super producer to collaborate with on their major-label debut. At the helm for the recently-released New Wave was producer/drummer Butch Vig (Nirvana, Garbage). The chemistry between Vig and the band resulted in a solid collection. Don’t let the album title fool you. The songs found therein bear no resemblance to the New Wave sub-genre, popular in the early ’80s. Rather, the 10 tracks are gritty, sometimes political tunes influenced by equal parts punk rock and guitar-heavy alt-country. —Leah Weinberg
Against Me! play with Two Gallants and Gaslight Anthem at the Music Farm (32 Ann St., 853-3276) on Thurs. Aug. 16 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $16 ($13.50 adv.). Check www.musicfarm.com and www.againstme.net for more.