Raising the Anti-flag

Anti-Flag’s punk-rock activist Justin Sane isn’t losing sleep over a possible Donald Trump presidency.

Anti-Flag’s punk-rock activist Justin Sane isn’t losing sleep over a possible Donald Trump presidency.

The reason? The rising popularity of left-wing Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.

Sane said he’s heartened by all the grassroots support shown for underdog candidate Sanders, who embodies the qualities that Trump doesn’t, including open-mindedness, fairness and tolerance.

“Bernie Sanders, by far, best represents what I believe in, and all the issues Anti-Flag has been talking about all these years,” added the frontman, who performs with his band at Wild Bill’s Sports Bar on May 7.

Although Sanders getting the top job in the White House is deemed a long-shot, Anti-Flag’s singer/guitarist (born Justin Cathal Geever), believes the same about Trump’s presidential chances.

“Donald Trump only has the support of a small percentage of the Republican Party … There’s absolutely no way someone that hateful and bigoted could become president,” said Sane. “He wants to wreck America — and he also wants to wreck Canada, by the way … and every country that’s not America, including Mexico.”

The group’s Canadian tour comes with the jokey preamble: “American presidential hopeful, ‘Lil’ Donny’ can’t wait to get those tiny little hands of his on all those Canadian trees, oil reserves, potential casino properties, etc … we will trek across the Great White North while it’s still worth visiting!”

Anti-Flag has been criticized for being anti-American. The musicians deny this, saying they are actually against blind-nationalism.

Their 2015 album was named American Spring as an allusion to the Arab Spring protests that ignited brief Western hopes that more democracy would take root in the Middle East. While Sane has heard these written off as “failures” — much as the Occupy protests were — he believes both grassroots movements have planted seeds of change that could take time to germinate.

“Look how long it’s taken for the Civil Rights movement … African Americans are still being discriminated against and killed by cops more than white people.”

Sane credits the Occupy Wall Street protests for kicking off important

discussions about a fairer distribution of wealth.

“It created a platform and a lexicon for someone like Bernie Sanders to come on the scene …”

The 43-year-old was raised by activist parents in Pittsburgh during the 1980s. The Free Trade Agreement decimated the city’s steel manufacturing industry, causing an estimated 350,000 people to leave the city in search of employment. His Irish-born dad’s contracting company was hard hit by the slump.

“My family was poor” — but political minded, recalled the musician. “My parents were always involved in anti-racism, the environment and other causes.”

As a teenager, he loved the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bullocks, and still considers it the best punk album ever. Pittsburgh had a very small punk scene at the time. “You could get beat up for having a blue mohawk,” recalled Sane — who still sports one.

When Anti-Flag got going in 1992, Sane said neither he nor the other musicians (which now includes Chris No. 2, Chris Head and Pat Thetic) had much skill or direction. “

We weren’t good singers, good songwriters, or even that good on our instruments.”

Sane believes the first Anti-Flag album that really gelled was 2003’s The Terror State, which criticizes the Bush war on terrorism.

“On that record we figured out who we were, musically and ideologically.”

American Spring, is the group’s ninth album and contains the song Brandenburg Gate, which expresses hopes for a more peaceful, tolerant future. The music video finishes with two men kissing in a church.

Sane sees legalized gay marriage as a sign of progress, but wants more public awareness about environmental sustainability.

“If there’s one change that every person can make to help the planet, it’s to go vegetarian, or better yet, vegan … factory farming is one of the biggest problems we have,” said the singer, who also advocates for Amnesty International.

“Sometimes our problems feel overwhelming, but there are things people can do,” said Sane.

He added, “I’m feeling optimistic because I know … a lot more people who give me hope than who make me feel hopeless.”

Tickets to the 8 p.m. show, with Oregon artist Lee Corey Oswald, are $20-$25 from the venue or ticketfly.com.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

Chopped Canada-winning chef Pete Sok is trying to focus on the future as he reopens Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge in the Holiday Inn on Gasoline Alley during the pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer’s celebrity chef looks past the pandemic with new restaurant opportunity

Pete Sok is reopening Boulevard Restaurant — and betting on the future

The Red Deer Rebels hosted the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first game of the shortened 2020-21 season on Friday. The two teams faced off again in Medicine Hat Saturday (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels fall to Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday

Tigers 7 Rebels 2 The Red Deer Rebels have lost two straight… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Gummed-up bills in House of Commons: harbinger of a federal election?

OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don’t want an election… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Sean Hoskin stands on a neighbourhood street in Halifax on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hoskin was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost a year ago with symptoms that still persist. Some provinces have established programs to deal with long-term sufferers but Atlantic Canada, with relatively low numbers of patients, has yet to provide a resource to assist them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
On East Coast, exhausted COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ hope specialized clinics will emerge

HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

Most Read