By Charlotte Lueth
Tom Gabel of the band Against Me! is nothing if not cordial. This was a lesson I learned with ample rapidity during my interview with him; the point was really sent home by his reaction to the recent election: “I think it’s a totally positive thing. I’m really happy Barack won. It’s a hugely historical election and I hope it will affect people’s psyches positively.” Tom Gabel: cordial and well-versed in the world of public relations.
When I spoke with Gabel he was in a tour bus on his way to Connecticut where he was to play a show that evening. His demeanor was on par with someone who had been stuck in a tour bus all morning, probably on a nondescript US interstate – maybe even the New Jersey turnpike (no one likes the Jersey Turnpike). So, when my attempts at small talk started to flounder I quickly moved on to music-based questions. All musicians love to talk about their inspirations and latest projects, right? Well, maybe not.
Country Music Goodness: So where are you now? Connecticut? Getting pumped for the show tonight?
Tom Gabel: Actually driving on I-95. I think we’re about an hour away. We’ll probably get something to eat when we get there and then get ready for the show.
CMG: Do you notice a big difference in the kinds of crowds you get based on which region you’re in? Size of crowds?
TG: I’d say we just tend to draw diverse crowds. Young and old.
CMG: What’s been your favorite place to play?
TG: Australia, as a whole, for its beauty. We’ve always had a great time there.
CMG: Want to tell me a little about Lollapalooza? I read a review that said one kid in the front was rocking so hard that he threw up a little. Care to comment?
TG: That was like two years ago. I never heard about that. It was a fun time – festivals are good.
CMG: Do you like to play festivals or regular shows better?
TG: They’re both great. I like a good mix of things though.
CMG: What’s your favorite album that you’ve recorded?
TG: Tends to be our most recent project.
CMG: Fave song you’ve recorded?
TG: That’s like trying to choose a favorite child
CMG: How do you feel about the election?
TG: I think it’s a totally positive thing. I’m really happy Barack won. It’s a hugely historical election and I hope it will affect people’s psyches positively.
CMG: Regarding the song ‘Stop’ off of New Wave, I’ve heard it recently on a movie and a TV show – how do you feel about this kind of thing?
TG: I think it’s great. I’m very into the idea of having music work its way into various avenues and having people hear it. It’s how people discover new music, especially since it’s not like MTV plays videos anymore.
CMG: This one is kind of random but I am really curious about the meaning behind “Tonight we’re gonna give it 35%”?
TG: I don’t write too cryptically; for instance the first line of that song is, “We drank bottled water together and talked business” and that means that we drank bottled water and talked business. I don’t really like to go into the meaning of our songs. I don’t really think I should have to go into things much further; a little should be left to imagination of the listener.
CMG: So how was it being featured on the Revival tour? I have to give you massive props for that, considering it’s not your genre per se. What was your favorite part of that experience?
TG: It was an incredible experience. I’ve been friends with Chuck, Tim and Ben for a while. Against Me! toured with Lucero years ago and it’s always a great time.
CMG: “Wagon Wheel” is close to my heart because it’s about the place I grew up. How was it covering that Old Crow classic?
TG: It was cool. Actually I recoded a cover of that for a compilation that benefited Protect (a child abuse charity). I recorded it awhile ago and thought it would be a good song to play on the Revival Tour.
CMG: So what now, when this tour is over?
TG: Right now I have four more shows on my own. And then I’ll be having Thankgiving with family. We’re taking a break in December, and we’ll start writing the next Against Me! Album in January.
CMG: What do you use for song-writing inspiration?
TG: I just look around to find inspiration.
CMG: And I also just have to ask for my own sake, which is better? East coast or West coast?
TG: There are different areas of each coast I like and dislike. Both coasts have bad parts and good parts; I try to find the good in wherever I am. Except Oklahoma City, I’ve never had a very good time there. But Tulsa is amazing!
Tom Gabel- “100 Years of War”