Jason Setnyk

Interview with Laura Jane Grace from Against Me! playing Ottawa on March 24th

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Ottawa Ontario – The phenomenal punk rock band Against Me! will be playing an intimate concert on Friday March 24th at the Bronson Centre Theatre in Ottawa.

The band, who consists of Laura Jane Grace (lead vocals), James Bowman (guitar, vocals), Inge Johansson (bass, vocals), and Atom Willard (drums), will be playing Ottawa on their night off from touring with punk legends Green Day.

Against Me! made headlines in 2016 not only for releasing a jaw-dropping new album but also for a powerful new book penned by their lead singer.

Laura Jane Grace, who publicly came out as transgender in 2012, is the author of “Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout”.

Against Me! went from the fringes as an anarchist punk band to becoming socially relevant and entrenched in pop culture. Against Me! has been reviewed and/or Laura Jane Grace has been interviewed in publications like Rolling Stone, People, Vogue, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and more. They have gone from the underground to the spotlight.

The reaction from the LBGTQ community towards the new book has been positive according to the author.

“I think the reaction all around has been pretty positive. Everyone I’ve heard from has connected with the book and gotten something out of reading it,” stated Laura Jane Grace.

Grace, who went through a challenging transition, offers advice for people going through a difficult transition in their own lives.

“I would say just don’t give up hope. You may not have a feeling of belonging right now but the place where you fit in is out there. There are many life lessons I’ve learned from transition but I think the most important would have to be patience,” disclosed Laura Jane Grace.

In 2014 Against Me! released an album titled “Transgender Dysphoria Blues”. The tribulations of being transgender in the United States became even more drastic during the 2016 US Election. The use of washrooms by transgender people became a political issue in the United States. It’s not like that in Canada. For example the Bronson Centre has gender neutral washrooms available.

“Canada does in many ways seem more progressive. That’s not just with Trans issues either. I think the election created more of a panic than blues although damn is it depressing. Unfortunately I think every US citizen has rights they should be concerned about losing, not just trans people. With Trans people it’s more that it seemed like there was some small progress being made with acceptance over the past couple years and now not only is that progress in jeopardy but it’s likely that steps backwards will be taken,” stated Laura Jane Grace.

In addition to the book Against Me! released the new album “Shape Shift with Me” which peaked at a respectable #80 on the Billboard Top 200.

“If there was any concept (for the new album) it was loose. I was working on finishing up the book at the same time as the record. The book was all about reflection, thinking about the past, reconciling with the past. The album had to be immediate, about how I feel right now, at this very moment, just capture that. It’s a record that was written on the road, while we were touring for Trans Dysphoria Blues. We came right off the road and started recording. In a lot of ways it was an easy record to make, the songs weren’t hard to write. I was either feeling it or I wasn’t so anything that made it onto the record I was feeling,” reflected Laura Jane Grace.

Over the years Against Me! has had many hits songs including “Thrash Unreal”, “I was a Teenage Anarchist”, “Black Me Out”, and more.

Grace doesn’t play favourites with Against Me! songs, but one that stands out for her on the new album is a song about the search for authenticity.

“I don’t really play favorites with songs but if I had to pick one it would be “Delicate, Petite, And Other Things I’ll Never Be,” said Laura Jane Grace.

Against Me! released a music video for the song “Crash” off the album “Shape Shift with Me”. The song has Star Wars imagery, and Laura Jane Grace discloses that she is a huge Star Wars fan.

“Fun was the inspiration. I just wanted to have fun and make a dumb video. We were kind of making it up as we went along. Our friends in Athens, Georgia at the 40 Watt Club let us use their space for a day and we built the set inside of it, then just started making up what we were going to do. I don’t particularly like making videos, that’s why we have a bunch that we just aren’t in at all. So if we are going to be in the video it has to be fun. And yes, I’m a huge Star Wars fan, always have been. They were some of the first movies I ever saw as a kid and it’s a real joy to be able to share that with my daughter now,” said Laura Jane Grace.

With the completion of an album and a book, does it feel like one chapter of your life has closed and another is beginning? If so, what’s next for Against Me!?

“Completely. Almost in an unsettling way. I’m trying to figure out the answer to that question now, what’s next. I’m not really sure other than a whole lot of touring!,” concluded Laura Jane Grace.

See Against Me! live Friday, March 24th at the Bronson Centre Theatre at 211 Bronson Avenue in Ottawa. The event is all ages, doors are at 7pm, and the show starts at 8pm. The Bronson Centre is an accessible venue with gender neutral washrooms available. Tickets are $25 and available at Vertigo Records, both Compact Music Inc. locations and online.  The concert is presented by Spectrasonic, Rebel 101.7, Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co., and Apt 613.