Laura Jane Grace Dissects 5 Against Me! Songs in Reddit AMA

The band also announced a string of tour dates beginning in March

Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!
Ryan Russell
February 7, 2014 12:50 PM ET

Last month, Against Me! released the cutting and insightful punk album Transgender Dysphoria Blues, an album that found frontwoman Laura Jane Grace writing about her experience transitioning from a man to a woman. Judging from Grace's Reddit AMA session, what fans really wanted to know, alongside questions about World of Warcraft and hair products, was the meanings behind many of Against Me!'s songs. Here are Grace's five best song explanations from the chat.

The Secret Life of Transgender Rocker Tom Gabel

1. "Walking Is Still Honest" (2000)

"I wrote 'Walking Is Still Honest' when I was 17 or 18 years old. I had just moved out of my mom's house and was living on my own for the first time. I hated so much of what I saw in the world and was pretty angry. I walked all of the time, everywhere I went. It felt like the one true thing I could still do. There was nothing corrupt about it."

2. "Burn" (2001)
"The lyrics to the song 'Burn' were never finished. I just kind of mumbled something different at the end of the second verse every time we used to play it. The time and place to finish the song has kind of long since past so I figure it's best not to play it. Don't want to fake the funk."

3. "Tonight We're Gonna Give It 35%" (2002)
"I wrote 'Tonight We're Going To Give It 35%' in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania," she said of the B-side to "The Disco Before the Breakdown." "The line 'We drank bottled water together and talked business. . . ' was about Anti-Flag. They were trying to sign us to their label at the time and took us to their warehouse space. We drank bottled water together. A lot of the song is about touring and the person you miss back home. It's about trying to reconcile your politics with the choices you're making. It's also about shame and gender dysphoria: 'Can you live with what you know about yourself when you're all alone?' I wasn't ready to address the things I knew about myself back then when I was all alone."

4. "Searching for a Former Clarity" (2005) and songs that dealt with gender dysphoria
One fan wanted to know which older Against Me! songs referenced Grace's wish to transition before she did. She said, "'Searching for a Former Clarity' with the line, 'Confessing childhood secrets of dressing up in women's clothes. Compulsions I never knew the reasons to.' Both 'The Disco Before the Breakdown' and 'Tonight We're Gonna Give It 35%' are about gender dysphoria. 'Pretty Girls,' pretty much all of [Against Me!'s 2005 album] Searching for a Former Clarity is about it, I guess, except for the obvious anti-war songs. At the time, the band was facing intense scrutiny from the punk scene about the politics of what label we were or weren't on. That album was me saying, 'I don't even care about these things. Do you really want to know how it feels on the inside right now and what I'm really thinking about?'"

5. "Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart" (2007)
"I wrote that song the summer I fell in love with Heather," Grace said, referring to her wife. The song features Tegan Quin of Tegan and Sara on additional vocals. "I really didn't want to be in a relationship with anyone and I was fighting it. I wrote the song with Tegan's vocal in mind. I wanted her to sing on it from the start. She was incredible to work with. Really enthusiastic and really fun to be around."

Against Me! also announced a month-long tour starting March 9th in Omaha. Check out the complete dates below.

3/9  Omaha, NE - The Slowdown
3/10  Columbia, MO - The Blue Note
3/12 – 3/14  Austin, TX - SXSW
3/15  Corpus Christi, TX - House of Rock
3/16  Houston, TX - Fitzgerald's
3/18  San Antonio, TX - Backstage Live
3/19  Dallas, TX - Gas Monkey
3/21  Denver, CO - Summit Music Hall
3/22  Salt Lake City, UT - Murray Theatre
3/23  Reno, NV - Knitting Factory
3/24  Portland, OR - Hawthorne Theatre
3/25  Seattle, WA - Neptune
3/26  Vancouver, BC - Commodore Ballroom
3/28  Edmonton, AB - Starlite
3/29  Calgary, AB - Republik
3/30  Regina, SK - Exchange
4/1  Winnipeg, MB - West End Cultural Centre
4/2  Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
4/3  Madison, WI - Majestic Theatre
4/4  Palatine, IL - Durty Nellie's
4/5  Indianapolis, IN - The Vogue
4/6  Asheville, NC - The Orange Peel

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »