Punk rockers Against Me! have had an amazing history filled with highs and lows, confusion, and acceptance, and our latest Timeline feature documents it all. The band's new album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues and frontwoman Laura Jane Grace's very public coming-out as a transgender woman mark the latest chapter in Against Me!'s storied history, and it's obvious that it's a positive one. Here's a quick look back at some other moments from the band's past.
Five Noteworthy Facts You May Not Know About Against Me!:
1. When the band signed to Fat Wreck Chords for their 2003 album, Against Me! As the Eternal Cowboy, they were met with violent opposition from ex-fans.
Someone scrawls "Remember when you mattered?" on the side of the band's van while on tour, and at a show on Long Island, people try to physically stop the band from playing during a concert; when they leave the show, they see that their van tires have been slashed. During a confrontation with the person who slashed their tires, one of the person's friends picks up a brick; Grace will later say this moment, when she realized she could literally die because she signed to Fat Wreck Chords, was "definitely an eye-opening moment."
2. Opposition didn't stop after the more extreme confrontations ended: once the band signed to a major label they continued to receive large amounts of criticism from ex-fans.
"To be treated like a supervillain for not playing music the right way is totally mind-blowing," ex-drummer Warren Oakes told The Nation. "I don't mind the scrutiny, but a lot of times it's impossible for people to walk away with the world a big enough place that we're just four genuine, sincere people that are making the right decisions, as we see it, every step of the way."
3. When the band's 2010 album, White Crosses, leaked before its release date, the band just shrugged their shoulders. Apparently, between 7,000 and 8,000 copies were illegally downloaded.
"I encouraged people to download our record when it leaked," Grace told Punknews. "That was the bottom line for me. We made the record, we wanted people to listen to it, and as long as people are listening to it we don't really care. In this day and age that's just the reality; records leak. It's stupid to get upset about that. There's nothing you can do to prevent it."
4. "I was a Teenage Anarchist" (from White Crosses) featured some lyrics that got under the skin of another prominent "Against" band.
"Do you remember when you were young and you wanted to set the world on fire?" Grace says in the song. The song's blunt take on her changed opinion on the scene prompts political punkers Rise Against to directly address Grace in their own tune "Architects," which they will release on 2011's Endgame, where vocalist Tim McIlrath says, "Don't you remember when you were young and you wanted to set the world on fire? Somewhere deep down, I know you do/And don't you remember when we were young and we wanted to set the world on fire? / 'Cause I still am, and I still do."
5. When Laura Jane Grace came out as a transgender woman, it was what she needed to get past some serious obstacles she was facing onstage.
Grace told Elle magazine that before she came out as female, she had "reached a total brick wall where I would be up there [onstage], and I felt like in between songs, I didn't know what to say. I didn't know how to talk... I had no passion when I was playing and I just didn't feel like I could continue to write music." She says that coming out as female was "one hundred percent" what she needed to change those feelings.
To read more on the band's fascinating past, pick up a copy of Exclaim!'s March Issue, available now in street boxes, shops and venues across Canada, and stay tuned for our Timeline feature to arrive online in full tomorrow (February 14).