Anti-Flag's Chris #2: The 10 Records That Changed My Life

Chris #2 from Anti-Flag
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Since joining Anti-Flag in 1999, Chris #2 has led the Pittsburgh punks in bellowing out their liberal, life-affirming, politically-driven anthems around the world. So it’s no surprise that some of his favourite records come from the world of US punk and hardcore. In the run up to the release of Anti-Flag’s tenth studio album American Fall, we caught up with Chris to talk about the albums that shaped him into who he is today. There’s also MC Hammer…

The first album I ever bought was…

MC Hammer – Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em (Capitol, 1990)

“It was not as life-changing as you might expect, it just reaffirmed to me that I love the song Too Legit To Quit! I always loved music, I wanted to be around music, and I was in the mall trying to convince my mother to allow me to go to the store. It was literally the first thing I saw in a bin full of cassettes. It was probably the discount bin for a dollar and she let me buy it.”

My favourite album artwork is…

Dead Kennedys – Bedtime For Democracy (Alternative Tentacles, 1986)

“This has been a huge influence my life, and has extrapolated into the Anti-Flag world pretty heavily. It was my first interaction with sitting down, listening to music, and having a piece to hold and go through that was more than just the lyrics. The record came with a newspaper called Fuck Facts and it was like their take on what was happening in the world. I remember listening to it over and over again and having something to do while listening to it.”

The album I wish I made is…

Green Day – Dookie (Reprise, 1994)

“On some level, Dookie is what inspired all of this. That’s the record I wish I’d made because it made me actually believe that I could make records. I grew up kind of in hip-hop, my brother was always at odds with the law, I heard the song Fuck Tha Police by NWA when I was nine years old, and that was a really politicising moment for me because I hated cops and here was this song that gave me a place to put that anger in to. But at no point did I think I could make commentary like that. I had a cousin who was really up on punk stuff and introduced me to Bad Religion and the first Dead Kennedys records, and those all seemed so fast and so good, there’s no way I could do that. Then Green Day came out and the kid on the TV had pimples on his face, and so did I, and he was only playing an A chord for the song! It really resonated with me.”

The album that reminds me of school is…

NOFX – S&M Airlines (Epitaph, 1989)

“In middle school I was listening to this record religiously. I was looking for any music that didn’t feel fake and I was immediately drawn to the punk rock that was happening at the time. You listen to Green Day and find out they’re from the Bay Area, then you find out about Fat Wreck Chords and that’s how it went. It was a lineage that was being passed down over and over again. It has less to do with what bands themselves did to me as it was the collective scene that was happening at the time in the early ‘90s.”

The album that inspires me the most is…

The Clash – London Calling (1979, CBS Records)

“It’s a great demonstrator of not giving a fuck about what the pre-conceived notion of your art is going to be. There’s no greater example of that than going from the track London Calling to Brand New Cadillac, which when you’re a punk kid in 1979 and you hear that one-two punch, you’re going to be made uncomfortable immediately. I take a lot of inspiration from that, it’s a constant for sure.”

The album I want to be remembered for is…

Anti-Flag – For Blood and Empire (RCA, 2006)

“At the beginning perhaps there was a naivety to what we were doing where we felt if we write a good enough song then the world would be different tomorrow – and what we found over 20 years is that it doesn’t work that way. It’s not about immediacy, it’s writing records to last longer than ourselves, that’s one of the reasons why our new material has become more impactful and has a further reach because it will last longer than the humans that created it. For Blood And Empire and American Fall are records that have a long-lasting capability because their messaging is something that I hope will be applicable to all people who are fighting social injustice in years to come.”

Nobody will believe I own a copy of…

Anti-Flag – A New Kind Of Army (Go Kart Records, 1999)

“It’s the first record that I was on. It’s way too long, there are a lot of disconnected songs because it was recorded in four different places, there were three different bass players before I came in and finished the record. I’m 17 years old and you can tell! If people tell me it’s their favourite record then I tell them that it’s because it hit them at an important time in their life, it’s not that good. There’s a handful of good songs on it but there are also 12 others.”

The album I break the speed limit to is…

Saves The Day – Through Being Cool (Equal Vision, 1999)

“I love those songs so much. It was a real coming of age record for me where I was figuring out who I was as a person who was in a band – I graduated high school and was becoming a human. The songs are fast and they’re all singalongs, so before you know it you’re lost in them and you’re probably going too fast.”

The album I want played at my funeral is…

The Beatles – Abbey Road (Apple, 1969)

“The B-side in particular. It’s my favourite record of all time. People talk about Sgt Pepper’s being this concept record, and I believe it is, but the connection between the last six songs on Abbey Road is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written. I think I’ll definitely play that motherfucker when I die.”

A kid asks me what metal is. I hand them a copy of…

Code Orange – Forever (Roadrunner, 2017)

“The first metal record that meant something to me would be Seasons In The Abyss by Slayer and the metal record that got me reinvigorated by metal would be the first Lamb Of God record, but the record that gives me hope for the future is the new Code Orange record. They’re really doing it for real and from a place of truth. The ethics Code Orange are doing it with feels very akin to how it felt when we started playing music. It’s not about selling something, it’s like ‘We’ve got our heads down and we’re fucking doing this thing, if you want to be a part of it it’s right over here.’ I think that’s really cool and very refreshing.”

Anti-Flag’s new album American Fall is out November 3 through Spinefarm Records. Pre-order it now.

The 10 best Anti-Flag songs, by The Menzingers' Tom May

Luke Morton joined Metal Hammer as Online Editor in 2014, having previously worked as News Editor at popular (but now sadly defunct) alternative lifestyle magazine, Front. As well as helming the Metal Hammer website for the four years that followed, Luke also helped relaunch the Metal Hammer podcast in early 2018, producing, scripting and presenting the relaunched show during its early days. He also wrote regular features for the magazine, including a 2018 cover feature for his very favourite band in the world, Slipknot, discussing their turbulent 2008 album, All Hope Is Gone.