Laura Jane Grace Dissects Five Against Me! Songs - Rolling Stone
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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 Against MeLaura Jane Grace Against Me

Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!

Ryan Russell

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

In This Article: Against Me, Laura Jane Grace


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