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Breaking Artist: Against Me!

August 15, 2007 3:45 PM ET

Who: Gainesville, FL, punk band with one of the year's best rock records, the Butch Vig-produced New Wave.

Sounds Like: New Wave is full of terrifically propulsive agit-prop like the anti-war anthem "White People for Peace." But it's also long on smart, catchy tunes, thanks partly to the band's array of non-punk influences, which include Bob Dylan and Dolly Parton.

Three Things You Should Know:
• Not long before forming Against Me! as a solo acoustic project in 1997, singer Tom Gabel began a career as a teenage activist, joining lefty causes like Food Not Bombs and running a leftist zine called Misanthrope, for which he interviewed ex-Black Panther Bobby Seale.
• Since the current lineup solidified around 2002, Against Me! have been one of the hardest-working bands in show biz, having done well over 1,000 shows in all fifty States and Europe.
• They've accumulated enough dumpster-diving stories to write a definitive guide to surviving poverty-stricken tours. "We used to make condiment sandwiches," says drummer Warren Oakes. "You know, get packets of onions and relish from a gas station and make a sandwich."
•The Boss likes them. In March, Against Me! played their biggest headlining gig yet to nearly 2,000 fans in Jersey -- including Bruce Springsteen, who saw the show and popped backstage. "When I saw him, I almost shit my pants," says bassist Andrew Seward. "He's a really nice guy," Gabel adds. "He said that we're very soulful."

In Today's News: Gabel was arrested last night in Tennessee on battery charges after allegedly slamming a fellow patron at All Saints Cafe's head into a countertop. Witnesses say the frontman tore a story about his band that had been defaced with obscenities off of a wall, and then assaulted Jared Smith when he asked why.

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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