Getting Warped

Against Me! trades its usual Omaha club shows for a local Warped Tour appearance

Against Me! has played in just about every sort of venue Omaha offers.

And the Florida indie-punk band is set to add a parking lot to the mix, as they hit the Westfair Amphitheater in Council Bluffs as part of the 2011 Vans Warped Tour.

Bassist Andrew Seward can remember all of his metro tour stops, from a big arena date opening for the Foo Fighters to some of the band's first Omaha shows at the Sokol Underground, which Seward describes as “the gym-looking place.”

Until this Warped Tour date, the last few Against Me! appearances have been at the Slowdown, Saddle Creek Records' north downtown music club. While Seward says he likes that club's staff, the backstage area's washer and dryer is what really sets it apart.

“It's the saving grace of tour,” Seward says.

The ability to launder a heap of clothing soiled from nights of sweaty shows and days trapped on a bus is “the best thing that can happen in a day,” he says.

The band is also familiar with the Warped Tour, having played the full run of dates in the summers of 2006 and 2008.

The Warped Tour is a self-contained world, Seward says. The band is usually content to hang out until they start their set.

“You sit under a tent drinking water and beer all day,” he says.

This year, Against Me! is doing two separate runs on the tour. The first two week stretch ended a few weeks ago; the second launches a few days before the band touches down in Council Bluffs.

Seward says the band pulls into town and pretty much sets up camp with their friends in the alt. country group Lucero, who are also playing Warped this year.

For now, Seward is savoring being home in Gainesville, Fla. He says it's odd to be part of the circus that is the Warped Tour one week and suddenly, temporarily, back home the next.

“It's been pretty mind altering being home,” he says.

Seward's made Gainesville his home since about 2002, when Against Me! singer Tom Gabel asked him to move from Tennessee to be in the band.

Seward had shared bills with the band while he was in a math-rock/hardcore band.

The original bassist had decided to return to college, so Seward ended up in Florida, living on someone's couch and playing in Against Me!

The band was gaining a following in Florida, but Seward had no clue it would attain its current stature.

“I was just stoked to be playing with the guys,” he says.

Seward's first show with the band saw a sell-out crowd of 200 at Common Grounds in Gainesville.

The group regularly toured the country, released a record on Vagrant Records and then signed to Sire Records.

The Sire Records deal brought them the chance to work with Butch Vig, who produced the 20-year-old Nevermind by Nirvana.

Each chapter, from the band's folk-punk roots to its more produced, alternative punk-pop albums New Wave and White Crosses, has reflected where the band was at the time.

“The number one rule is we've always done what we wanted to do,” Seward says. “It's all pretty honest.”

The band doesn't worry about how others perceive what they do, so long as it feels right.

That's part of the reason the band is re-releasing White Crosses on their own, after buying it back from Sire at the end of their contract with the label. It is also the first release on the band's own label, Total Treble Music. It includes a second disc of extra tracks, including four that didn't make the original album.

They stand by the record, even after a top-down shake-up at Sire basically meant the band was abandoned by their label.

“We got White Crosses back. We re-issued because it would not be physically out right now,” Seward says. “It's ours.”

Against Me! plays the 2011 Vans Warped Tour Thursday, Aug. 4 at the Westfair Amphitheater, 29984 Highway 6, in Council Bluffs. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $32 plus fees. For more information, visit vanswarpedtour.com.

posted at 06:24 am
on Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

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