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Music-Theater-Dance

Punk/pop band that loves to tour makes stop in Toledo on Friday

Just because it's been three years between releases doesn't mean the guys in Against Me! have been sitting around reading all the positive reviews the band received for 2007's "New Wave" album.

The four-person Florida punk/pop group defines itself as a touring band, and that's exactly what they've been doing for three years: relentlessly playing everywhere from tiny, obscure Canadian towns to Jersey bars before fans like Bruce Springsteen.

After taking a few months off, which for Against Me! is a long time, the band is back on the road a full six weeks before the scheduled release of its new disc, "White Crosses."

"We just like to tour, it's what we do," said bass player Andrew Seward. "We're a live band. Maybe we're borderline troubadour."

He was calling from Greenville, S.C., on a trek that brings the band to Headliners Friday night.

The band's new release sounds both like a natural follow-up to the bracing "New Wave" and at the same time a step forward. The group's pell-mell mix of punk energy and anthemic hard rock is delivered in tight, bracing songs that feature lead singer and lyricist Tom Gabel's broadsides against hypocrisy, organized religion, and political fakery.

The lyrics on songs like "I Was A Teenage Anarchist," "Suffocation," and "High Pressure Low" have a highly personalized feel, and there are numerous references to places all over the world, which may be a reflection of how much the band travels.

"I'm not going to pretend like I know what's going on in his mind," Seward said of Gabel. "The imagery is so vibrant."

"White Crosses" is due to be released in early June, but copies of it leaked on the Internet. Seward is philosophical about the music being out before the band is ready.

"It's inevitable, and you just kind of have to accept it, and more importantly embrace it. You can't get that upset that someone wants to hear your band," he said.

The band underwent a lineup change when drummer Warren Oakes left recently to own a restaurant. He was replaced by George Rebelo, formerly of Hot Water Music. Seward said his departure was amicable.

"You can't really be in this band and do anything else. It's a full-time thing, unless you want to spread yourself so thin that you don't do well at anything," he said.

Once Against Me! wraps up this leg of its tour, which runs until mid-June, the band will be part of the Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo festival lineups before embarking on yet another tour, this time with the band Silversun Pickups.

"I can't emphasize or overemphasize how grateful we are and how much we love what we do," Seward said. "We travel the world and play music. Not to sound like a hippie or anything, but it's a dream come true."

Doors open at 7 p.m. at Headliners, 4500 North Detroit Ave. Opening bands are Moneybrother and Dead To Me. Tickets are $12 in advance and are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 419-474-1333, ticketmaster.com, at Culture Clash 419-536-5683, and Ramalama Records 419-531-7625. Tickets will be $15 at the door, night of show.

Contact Rod Lockwood at: rlockwood@theblade.com or 419-724-6159.

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