Against Me! “Problems”

Against Me!Artist:
Blair Young
Add Date:
August 16, 2006


Summer salutations to all! It’s Andy Gesner writing from HIP Video HQ on a hot midsummer’s day. When fans of indie music think of Against Me!, it’s big guitars and bigger choruses that come to mind. But few casual fans (and the group has been making them by the bucketful ever since the release of Searching For A Former Clarity,) realize that this fearsome punk rock combo began as one woman’s acoustical crusade to speak truth to power and bring her message to anybody who’d listen. Frontwoman Laura Jane Grace began as an antifolk singer, bashing out her six-string protest songs in bookstores and cafés. Her role models were political punks, to be sure – but she also drew on the work of earlier protest singers like Billy Bragg, Phil Ochs, and the young Dylan. By the time he’d assembled Against Me!, he’d made a commitment to crank up the volume. But she never wholly left the spirit of protest-folk behind. That six-string balladry remains at the heart of her project, and you can hear it at the core of the group’s rousing songs.

So in a sense, Searching For A Former Clarity,, the band’s acclaimed third album, is a return to the singer’s roots. Interspersed between the fiery Clash-like rockers are subtler tracks, some of which even boast arrangements that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the Gainesville coffee-houses where Grace began her journey. “Joy”, for instance, is an acoustic heartbreaker, and the album’s title track pulls back on the wattage and hyperkinetic energy to allow the story to unfold at a ruminative pace. Searching For A Former Clarity,, demonstrates the versatility of Against Me! – their extraordinary ability to leap from punk vitriol to folk-rock thoughtfulness, and sometimes within the same song!

“Problems”, the latest single from Clarity, and a standout from the band’s upcoming live album Americans Abroad!!!, splits the difference between the two modes. The verses are mid-tempo, reflective, articulate; they could be rendered on an acoustic guitar and they wouldn’t lose an ounce of their intensity. But when “Problems” hits its explosive bridge and chorus, the group speeds up, Grace’s harsh voice becomes a commanding holler, and Against Me! combusts into rough, gritty, undeniable garage punk. The chorus is a singalong, but the verses are ambivalent and elliptical: “you know I am becoming the choices we are making”, confesses the pugnacious Grace, and she sounds less than thrilled about it.

The two sides of “Problems” are made manifest by the clip for the song. The video, one of director Blair Young’s best yet, consists entirely of live images and shots of Against Me!, one of punk rock’s most reliable concert performers, in full and glorious action. But the slower and faster sections of the song are represented differently: the verses are in black and white while the choruses are rendered in color. The greyscale footage of Against Me! is kept intentionally grainy – it could have been rescued from the vaults of some ancient punk label. The color footage, on the other hand, looks defiantly now!, bright, furious, and high-contrast. The verse shots concentrate on the band and the spotlights that chase them around the stage. But during the choruses, the camera swings out to catch a glimpse of the audience, singing along passionately and interacting with the band. Finally, the third wall is shattered for good by a stagedive into the pit, swirling now with vivid color.

Against Me! is one of our most cherished artists and we’re thrilled that the folks at Fat Wreck Chords and Sire, the band’s new label, are working together to bring us this incredible live video. In case you missed it the first time around, we have copies of Searching For A Former Clarity, and Americans Abroad!!! available for your on-air giveaway needs. You can catch the band finishing out the summer on the Warped Tour before they head over to Europe for some festival dates. If you need more info call Andy Gesner at 732-613-1779, or email You can also visit to find out more about Against Me!

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For info about Against Me’s previous video, “Don’t Lose Touch” click HERE

For info about Against Me’s previous video, “From Her Lips To God’s Ears (The Energizer) ” click HERE