Anti-Flag - Justin Sane

  • June 27, 2019
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Pittsburgh’s legendary political punks Anti-Flag are set to take the stage for the first every Canadian Punk In Drublic festival in Edmonton on July6th and Vancouver on July 13th.

In anticipation for the festivities, we caught up with front-man Justin Sane to discuss the festival, craft beers, his time on Wheel of Fortune and the history of Fat Mike and Fat Wreck Chords.

 Let’s start simple – NOFX’s seminal album Punk in Drublic celebrates its 25th anniversary six days after the Punk in Drublic festival in Vancouver. Do you remember the first time you heard that album and what is your favourite song from that classic album?


I was hanging out at a college radio station where I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when my friend who was a DJ at the station received Punk N Drublic in the mail at the station.  He was excited when the record came but I was disappointed because it wasn’t Bad Religion’s next record – which turned out to be Stranger Than Fiction.

Haha…  I quickly got over my disappointment and it turns out that Punk N Drublic has a lot of my favorite NOFX songs including “Perfect Government”. That song rips hard and has amazing melodies. Plus, the lyrics are really smart and interesting in the way they personalize the injustice of government corruption.

On top of celebrating classic punk rock, the Punk in Drublic festival also celebrates craft beer, which has exploded over the past several years. What are some of your favourite craft beers?

I love beer – especially when it’s free!  My favorite beer will be whatever brewery comes to me and says they want to do an Anti-Flag beer… The future is unwritten… Hah!

That said, I’m from the amazing city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania!!!

If you’ve never been to Pittsburgh come hang out and drink with us on one of our three rivers, because Pittsburgh is the shit! Part of the greatness of Pittsburgh is one of the oldest micro breweries in the country called The Church Brew Works.  They have a great beer called Pious Monk Dunkel.  It’s a crisp clean lager and I love it!

Is it weird seeing craft beer becoming intertwined with punk as opposed to the cheapest beer you can find? It’s no longer just PBR for all.

I started drinking later than the average drinker and when I started I was in Europe where high quality beer is about the same price as cheap shitty north American beer. So while cheap beer and punk usually go hand in hand, that has never been a big part of my punk rock life and honestly, why shouldn’t punks get to have good quality beer?  I want the best for my punk rock family so bring on the high quality craft beers!!!!  Let’s fucking go!!!

Do you see a similarity between small punk bands and small local breweries?

Sure… The small breweries have a hard time turning a profit.  They do it for the love of the process – and the product and the community around it.  That is so similar to starting a punk band which is almost fueled entirely on passion.  And of course starting a band is inherently DIY and so is starting a small brewery.  No one is going to hand anything to you.  It’s all on you to make it happen.  You either do the work and it happens or you don’t and it doesn’t.  I have a lot of respect for people who decide what they want and work tirelessly to make it happen – that is of course, as long as they aren’t hurting or exploiting others in the process…

There’s also the “Wheel of Misfortune” where, according to the website, “you can win a spanking, a boot licking, verbal abuse, a warm flat beer, or many other things that two magnificent Dommes will happily give to you.” – Will you be spinning the wheel?

Anti-Flag Justin Sane

A lot of people don’t know this about me but I was actually on the game show, Wheel Of Fortune! I lasted one round! So these days I try to avoid wheels at all costs!

What was your reaction when Fat Mike asked you to take part in the festival?

Mike has always been a friend to Anti-Flag and he always has cool ideas and does cool things…  Whenever Mike calls we’re happy to answer the phone and hear what he’s thinking…  We’ve played a lot of Punk n Drublics and they’re a blast! Hanging out with a shit ton of cool punks and rocking some shows?  Fuck yeah! Sign me the fuck up!!! Let’s do this!

After the forced controversy during last year’s Punk in Drublic after people complained about some comments Fat Mike and El Hefe made in Las Vegas which led Stone brewing to cut ties and replace NOFX on the scheduled Punk in Drublic festivals – were you surprised Fat Mike brought the festival back this year?

I wasn’t surprised they brought the festival back.  They made a massive mistake and admitted as much.  That said, life is about many things including learning lessons and being willing to admit when you’ve made a mistake and growing from your experiences.  As humans I believe that it is important to practice the art of forgiveness because no one is fucking perfect. We make mistakes, hopefully we atone for them, learn from them, and get on with life.

Over the years, you guys have worked and played with Fat Mike and NOFX – what’s your favourite Fat Mike story?

I’ve always enjoyed when Mike isn’t in a mood to play a show and walks out on stage and tells the crowd to expect a bad show.  Haha.

On July 12th on the Portland show, NOFX will be performing The Decline in its entirety with Baz’s Philharmonic Orchestra. Will you be watching that?

Of course.  It’s gonna be fucking epic!

The festival has slightly different line ups in every city, but its generally always pulls from the classic EpiFat sound with bands from either Fat Wreck Chords or Epitaph Records – how important do you think those two labels have been for the punk scene, and the music scene as whole?

Fat is like a family to us and always will be.  I’m grateful for all of the amazing friendships we have as a result of meeting Mike and everyone at Fat.  There is no denying that California punk is far reaching and has had a serious impact on people and culture all over the world.

Is it nice to be able to celebrate that heritage and label family with Punk in Drublic?

Punk in DrublicYeah, the Punk In Drublic festival really is just like home away from home.  You show up and know everyone.  Everyone is super cool and in a good mood and wants to watch each other’s bands and hang out and party…  It rules!!!

Thinking back, what are some of your favourite Epitaph or Fat Wreck albums and why?

The Good Riddance albums Ballads from the Revolution and Operation Phoenix on Fat are fucking incredible!!! And Rancid is just impossible to beat!  They’ve had such a massive impact on me…  But I could go on about all of the amazing bands on those labels… there just isn’t enough time in the day.

If you could do a festival based around one of your songs or albums – which song/album would it be and what would the festival be like?

We’ve done it! It’s called ANTIfest and we focus on the unifying and activist spirit of punk that let’s everyone from misfits to outcasts know that they are not alone and that if they care about making the world a better place AND having a good time, then they’re in the right place!