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Against Me! is an American punk rock band formed in Gainesville, Florida, United States, in 1997 by singer and guitarist Laura Jane Grace. Since 2001, the band's lineup has also included guitarist James Bowman. After releasing three studio albums through independent record labels, Against Me! moved to Sire Records for 2007's New Wave, which reached no. 57 on the Billboard 200. In 2011, the band launched their own record label, Total Treble Music, through which to release future albums.
In 2012, Grace publicly came out as transgender, beginning a transition to living as a woman and dropping her birth name. After a long period of line-up changes and uncertainty surrounding the band's future, their sixth studio album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, was released independently in January 2014 to critical and commercial acclaim. The band's seventh full-length, Shape Shift with Me, is scheduled to be released in September 2016.
1997–2002: The early years and Reinventing Axl Rose
Against Me! was formed in 1997 by singer/guitarist Laura Jane Grace as a solo act, amidst the breakup of her previous band(s). The first Against Me! release was an eponymously titled demo tape, in 1997. It was self- released in very limited numbers. With the addition of drummer Kevin Mahon, a second demo, Vivida Vis! (1998), was released in limited numbers by Misanthrope Records. Dustin Fridkin joined the band for a brief period that year, though he left shortly after, (he returned in early 2001). The band started their first tour in March 1999, a month - long tour during which they met Jordan Kleeman. The band's first EP, Against Me!, was released in 2000 through Crasshole Records. James Bowman joined the band somewhere around this time. They supported the EP on their tour of the West coast that year. Their first widely distributed release was the EP Crime as Forgiven by Against Me! (2001), released by Plan-It-X Records and Sabot Productions (run by longtime Against Me! tour manager Jordan Kleeman). On April 23, 2001, while heading south on I-75, returning home from their first tour as a four-piece band, their van was struck by a semi truck. They landed upside-down in a ditch. No one was harmed but the van and equipment were destroyed. James and Kevin left the band. The band broke up for a few months that year. A third EP, a self-titled acoustic recording by Grace and bassist Dustin Fridkin, was released in November 2001.
Mahon was eventually replaced by Warren Oakes, and guitarist James Bowman returned in December 2001 during the recording of the band's first album, Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose, released in March 2002 by No Idea Records. Fridkin left during the summer of 2002 to return to college and was replaced by Andrew Seward of the Tennessee band kill devil hills, and this new lineup (which remained constant until 2009) released the single "The Disco Before the Breakdown" (2002).
2003–06: As the Eternal Cowboy and Searching for a Former Clarity
Against Me! signed to Fat Wreck Chords and released their second album, 2003's Against Me! as the Eternal Cowboy. It reached no. 36 on Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart and was supported by singles for "Cavalier Eternal" and "Sink, Florida, Sink". The DVD We're Never Going Home followed, documenting their Spring 2004 tour. 2005's Searching for a Former Clarity was their first album to chart on the Billboard 200, reaching no. 114. Against Me! supported the album with a tour of all 50 U.S. states. It spawned singles for "Don't Lose Touch" and "From Her Lips to God's Ears (The Energizer)", which also became the band's first music videos. The live album Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live in London!!! followed in 2006.
2007–10: New Wave and White Crosses
Against Me! moved to Sire Records for 2007's New Wave, produced by Butch Vig. It debuted at no. 57 on the Billboard 200 and featured their first charting single, "Thrash Unreal", which reached no. 11 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. "White People for Peace", "Stop!", and "New Wave" were also released as singles, and New Wave was named as Spin's album of the year. The DVD Live at the Key Club followed later that year. In 2008, Against Me! supported Foo Fighters on a North American tour, and Sire released the digital EP New Wave B-Sides. In October 2008, while traveling west on I-80, en route to Salt Lake City, their tour bus hit a patch of ice; causing it to spin and land on its side in a ditch. Also, their trailer broke free from the hitch and all of their equipment was strewn in the middle of the highway. Thankfully, no one was harmed.
Oakes left the band in June 2009, in part to focus on running his Mexican food restaurant. "I didn't want to play music with Warren anymore", said Grace, "it's been a long time coming. Warren's heart hasn't been in this for a while now." Oakes was replaced by Hot Water Music drummer George Rebelo. The following month Fat Wreck Chords released The Original Cowboy, an album of demo recordings from the Against Me! as the Eternal Cowboy sessions.
On August 17, 2009, Against Me! headed into the studio with New Wave producer Butch Vig. Against Me! joined Billy Talent on tour in Canada in March 2010, and also supported the Silversun Pickups on a tour of the United States that summer, bringing along touring keyboardist Franz Nicolay.
Against Me! released White Crosses, their second album with Sire, on June 8, 2010 (although it was leaked about 3 months earlier). It was supported by singles for "I Was a Teenage Anarchist", "White Crosses", and "High Pressure Low" and was their highest-charting album to date, reaching no. 34 on the Billboard 200. On the eve of a scheduled tour of Australia and New Zealand that September, the band suddenly cancelled all touring plans due to "a culmination of circumstances", expressing the need to "take some time off from touring to go home and sort things out."
November 2010 saw Against Me!'s departure from Sire Records, their first (and only) major label. Following a two-month hiatus from touring, the band spoke for the first time since their tour cancellation, talking of their upcoming December 2010 shows, which saw Jay Weinberg cover for George Rebelo on drums, as he toured with Hot Water Music.
Throughout December 2010, Grace spoke of George Rebelo's intentions to record an album with his primary band Hot Water Music. In January 2011, Weinberg was officially confirmed as Against Me!'s new drummer. Total Clarity, an album of demos and unreleased songs from the Searching for a Former Clarity sessions, was released on May 24, 2011, through Fat Wreck Chords.
2011–present: Transgender Dysphoria Blues and Shape Shift with Me
Grace had expressed the desire to release at least one album per year for the next decade and that Grace hoped to record Against Me!'s sixth studio album in Winter 2011. As well as this, she spoke of releasing a 7" on Sabot Productions before Summer 2011, featuring two original songs. This was announced as being Russian Spies / Occult Enemies, which was released on June 14, 2011. In the same studio session, the band recorded a cover of the theme song for a season 8 episode of One Tree Hill, which aired May 3.
On June 3, 2011, the band announced that they started their own record label, Total Treble Music. In July 2011, the band released "Black Crosses" which were demos /alternate versions of songs from "White Crosses". In September 2011, Grace built a recording studio in Elkton, Florida, for future Against Me! projects. The studio has since been named Total Treble Studio. The first band to record an album in the studio were Cheap Girls from Lansing, Michigan, with their album Giant Orange.
In May 2012 Grace publicly came out as transgender, having dealt with gender dysphoria since childhood, and began a transition to living as a woman by taking hormones, undergoing electrolysis treatments, and taking the name Laura Jane Grace. "I felt like I drop-kicked them in the face," she said of informing the other members of Against Me! "We had the most awkward hug ever, and then they left. And the second I shut the door, I was like, 'What the fuck did I just do?'" Gender dysphoria is the theme of the band's sixth studio album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, a concept album about a transgender prostitute. They began recording in February 2012 at Total Treble Studio, working without Butch Vig, who produced New Wave and White Crosses. Instead, Grace was acting as both recording engineer and record producer for the album. Weinberg departed the group that December. Drummer Atom Willard filled in with the band for their 2013 Australian tour dates, and was confirmed as the band's new drummer on July 31, 2013. In March 2013, the band canceled their US tour with Bad Religion. In May 2013, bassist Andrew Seward also announced his departure from the band. Grace has expressed that she felt the band could possibly in the future not continue under the name Against Me! but will, however, because she believes the new record has a message she wants to get out. On June 24, 2013, Grace announced that recording for Transgender Dysphoria Blues was finished. Grace went on a solo tour in August in a handful of east coast US cities in support of the record.
On July 15, 2013, Against Me! released the "True Trans" single for free, featuring the new acoustic song "FUCKMYLIFE666" and the namesake "True Trans Soul Rebel". On August 29, 2013, Inge Johansson, formerly of The (International) Noise Conspiracy and Refused, was confirmed as the new bass player.
On January 21, 2014, Against Me! released Transgender Dysphoria Blues, their sixth full-length studio album. The album was the first by the band since their lead vocalist, Laura Jane Grace, came out as a transgender woman and was praised for its raw quality reminiscent of Against Me!'s earlier music. It is currently their highest-charting album to date, reaching no. 23 on the Billboard 200.
A new live album, 23 Live Sex Acts was recorded on the subsequent tour by the band in 2014, and was released on September 4, 2015.
In July 2016, the band announced their seventh studio album Shape Shift with Me would be released on September 16. The band also immediately released a song from the album, "333". On August 10, 2016, a second song, "Haunting, Haunted, Haunts" was released via the Adult Swim Singles Program 2016. A Star Wars-inspired music video for the song "Crash" was then released on August 22.
Laura Jane Grace – guitar, lead vocals (1997–present)
James Bowman– guitar, vocals (2001–present)
Inge Johansson – bass, vocals (2013–present)
Atom Willard – drums, percussion (2013–present)
Kevin Mahon – drums, percussion, vocals (1998–2001)
Dustin Fridkin – bass, vocals (1998, 2001–02)
Warren Oakes – drums, percussion (2001–09)
George Rebelo – drums, percussion (2009–10)
Jay Weinberg – drums, percussion (2010–12)
Andrew Seward – bass, vocals (2002–2013)
Franz Nicolay – piano, keyboards, accordion, vocals (2010)
Tyson Yerex – piano, keyboards, guitar (2009–2010)
Adam Trachsel – bass (2010)
Fat Mike – bass (2013)