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Red, white and tattooed Against Me! rocker, Tom Gabel talks war, playing at Gay weddings for booze
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

The only thing I love more than a cool rock band is a hot lead singer in a cool rock band. Can I get an amen? High on my list is Tom Gabel, the tattooed and sexy frontman of acclaimed punk outfit Against Me! In 2007, Spin magazine crowned the group's major label debut New Wave with album of the year honors - topping Arcade Fire, Jay-Z, and M.I.A for the title. Back-to-back smash hits propelled the Florida-based quartet to mainstream attention, "Thrash Unreal" and the politically motivated "White People for Peace." Gabel, who began his career as a teenage solo act, might seem the unlikeliest artist to offer himself to a Gay publication. Yet, when e-mailed a list of questions last week while on tour, this headbanger replied in an hour's time with complete answers for each. It's the second best thing he's done for Against Me!'s Gay fan base - the first was revealing his pecs on the shirtless music video for "Thrash Unreal." The buzz-worthy foursome headlines a performance tonight, October 24, at The Showbox Market and if it's anything like a year ago at the Capitol Hill Block Party, be ready to sweat those toxins out.

During a recent tour stop in the Midwest, this is what Tom Gabel of Against Me! got off his firm, smooth chest when he busted into "The Music Lounge."

Albert Rodriguez: Where are you at this very moment?

Tom Gabel: We are in lovely Des Moines, Iowa.

Rodriguez: Your performance at the Capitol Hill Block Party last year was wicked. Can we expect the same at The Showbox?

Gabel: Thanks. Hopefully you can expect an even better show. The Block Party was fun, but playing outside in the daylight really isn't our natural element. We do much better inside and at night. We always look forward to playing Seattle, though.

Rodriguez: What comes to mind when you hear Seattle mentioned?

Gabel: Neumo's, Singles Going Steady, the "Punkin House," R.E.I., the space needle, The Blood Brothers, and Pearl Jam.

Rodriguez: What can you tell me about a possible upcoming album?

Gabel: Well, we're winding down touring for New Wave. We have this tour that we're on now and then we go to France for two weeks in early December. After the holidays, we're going to start seriously focusing on the next album. We hope to be finished by late 2009. I did however just record a solo record, though, that comes out on October 28. It's called Heart Burns and it's being released on Sire.

Rodriguez: Was "White People for Peace" written in connection to our current war conflicts?

Gabel: Yes, it definitely was. It was important to me to have a song addressing the subject of war considering the fact that our country is currently waging one. However, the same war has been being waged for the past three albums, all of which have had songs on them addressing the same war. I wanted to approach the subject in a different way; I wanted to write a song that could apply to any war.

Rodriguez: How do you feel about our political climate right now? And, will you vote in our next election?

Gabel: I think at the moment I'm holding my breath. I'm waiting to see how this election turns out. And yes, I'm definitely voting in the election. But if I had to choose two words to describe the current political climate, they would be "bitterly divided."

Rodriguez: Are you a cold brew or stiff cocktail kind of guy?

Gabel: I'm a vodka tonic kind of guy.

Rodriguez: If I threw a rockin' party and asked you to supply the tunes, what would you spin?

Gabel: There'd be some classics like Madonna, a little bit of INXS, some Midnight Oil, Tom Petty And there'd be a little bit of contemporary hits like The Knife, Crystal Castles, Hot Chip. Basically, I would do an awesome job.

Rodriguez: Would a Gay following surprise you?

Gabel: Not at all. We've always done our best to make sure everyone, from all walks of life, feels welcome at our shows regardless of age, race, class, or sexual orientation. Everybody is welcome.

Rodriguez: What's a must-have item aboard your tour van or bus?

Gabel: A good book.

Rodriguez: It's common for touring bands to leave certain things behind on the road (cell phone chargers, clothes, watches). What's something you continually lose on tour?

Gabel: Clothes are the most common thing lost. It's usually the sweaty show clothes that are quickly taken off after playing and left backstage in interest of pursuing after-show drinks.

Rodriguez: What happens when you guys run out of clean socks and underwear on the road?

Gabel: Then we schedule a late night stop at Wal-Mart and stock up!

Rodriguez: You're playing Seattle a week before Halloween. Growing up, what was your favorite Halloween costume?

Gabel: Superman!

Rodriguez: Name one song you'll never delete from your MP3 player.

Gabel: "Visions Of Johanna" by Bob Dylan

Rodriguez: Gay couples can legally marry now in California. How much would Against Me! charge to play at a reception?

Gabel: Cover flights, hotels, and give us all the booze we can drink. We won't play well, but we'll play.

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