In the spring of 2013, Against Me! bassist Andrew Seward found himself at a crossroads in his personal and professional life.
“I didn’t know if I wanted to be in the band, I missed my young daughter,” he recalls. “I let anxiety in my headspace get the best of me. I regret it.”
Seward suddenly left the Gainesville band whose global buzz was getting increasingly louder with every successful album and legendary live show. But after working on concert production at a Florida amphitheatre for five years – learning the “other side” of the business – Seward returned to the band after lead singer Laura Jane Grace asked him to come back.
“It was kind of jaw-dropping in a way because I never expected it,” he says. “It’s weird – now that I’m back, it feels like I was never gone. My first show back was in Detroit and once I was back on stage with these people, it was like a jolt of lightening. I didn’t realize how much I missed it. Everything feels really good and there’s a new energy.”
Seward and Against Me! will bring this new energy to Vancouver on May 12 when they play the Rickshaw Theatre with metal legends Baroness (as of the publication date of this article, the show has yet to have been postponed).
If you read any “Most Anticipated Albums of 2020” lists, you’ll be most likely see Against Me! somewhere in the top 10. According to Seward, the wheels for this anticipated album are slowly in motion and Vancouver can look forward to hearing some new songs which the band will be “road-testing” at the May show. While he can’t comment much about the new songs and album, Seward says the “outrage is real on these songs” because of the current political climate in the US.
“We’re working on new songs – Laura’s written fucking crazy-good songs – and they’re all being fleshed out in the studio,” he says.
Politics have always been a palpable and significant influence on the Against Me! narrative and their songs. In fact, during the interview, Seward is speaking from a Bernie Sanders rally in Ann Arbor, Michigan where Grace is playing to the Democratic candidate’s supporters. Seward says that despite the current political unrest in the States, he remains hopeful – he’s hopeful thanks to the catharsis of playing Against Me! songs again and also because he has to be.
“I have to be hopeful because it’s just completely defeating to throw your hands up and say, ‘It’s fucked – we’re all fucked,’” he meditates. “I know that’s easier to do, but I can’t do it – I’m a father now. I am hopeful and we’re here to show our support.
“I hope today gives a boost to my morality – I could use it,” he adds, laughing. “That being said, by the time this (interview) comes out and we’re in Vancouver in May, who knows where we’ll be. Who knows where we’ll be with Bernie, with Biden, with Trump, with the coronavirus…everything moves at the speed of light these days.”
So did he learn anything during his five-year break from the band?
“Now, every time we play a show, whether it be Toledo, Ohio or Vancouver, British Columbia or Sao Paulo, Brazil, I’m always thinking, ‘Play it like it’s your last show – give it all you’ve got,’” he says. “I see the joy on audience members’ faces now. People don’t go to an Against Me! show to get bummed out. They go for a release. We want to match that 100 percent – we want to give what they give us. We just play like we fucking mean it.”