All through April and May, music venues across the eastern United States will be alive with the raucous music of Against Me! founder and punk icon Laura Jane Grace. Across 19 headlining shows with opener Weakened Friends, as well as another five shows with Frank Turner and The Interrupters, Grace will be performing classic Against Me! and solo songs, as well as new material.
In a chaotic world that tries to bring them down, Grace’s fans can be assured that they can go to one of her shows and rock out to the same anarchist and trans anthems they’ve been screaming for two decades. And her rebel yell is just as loud as it was in 2012, when Against Me! were the darlings of the punk scene and Grace bravely came out as trans.
Looking beautiful with a shaved and tattooed head, and eyes that shine bright when she talks about her love for performing, Grace rejects the notion that her new music has to be Earth-shattering and groundbreaking. She just wants to make more of the music that she loves.
“I feel like for the past decade straight, it’s always this expectation of artists releasing ‘their most personal record yet. So personal, it’s like you're waking up next to them in bed.’ It has to be more, more, more!” she says. “I'm at this age now where, all right, I'm 42 fucking years old. I do not give a shit about impressing anybody. I'm doing this just because this is what I fucking love doing, and this is what I'm always going to do.”
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While Grace isn’t worried about impressing anyone, she is conscious of the political message her shows send, especially when touring in states that have laws targeting trans people.
“It's strange,” Grace says, “So many of those states that have on their dockets proposals about laws that would ban shows that are considered drag shows, I would technically fall under that. I think there’s an importance then of going to those places because I think that you’re demonstrating how absurd that is in a lot of ways.”
“I’m an avowed anarchist, and it always pisses me off when people accuse me of even being a liberal,” she adds, noting that she plays her song “Baby, I’m an Anarchist” at nearly every show. “A lot of those ethics and those messages are just inherently ingrained into the songs. So those political messages are always going to be there.”
Just as the punk community became a home for Grace, she makes her shows a home for queer and trans punks (and non-punks) across the country. She knows the power of gathering in a room full of other trans people and allies.
“Playing songs about the trans experience, I think just the representation in general, it's really effective oftentimes to just go to these places,” she says of touring in states like Florida that have anti-trans laws (coincidentally or not, Against Me! formed in the Sunshine State back in 1997). “If you have a show where other trans people or gender-nonconforming people feel comfortable coming out to the environment, just even the group presence often in those places just makes a statement.”
In a way, Grace has become one of punk rock’s Mommies, creating a space for outcasts to gather and feel like they belong. The stage is one of Grace’s homes and she throws one hell of a house party, and everyone's invited.
Grace’s tour kicks off April 5 in Columbia, Mo., and closes on May 13 in Asbury Park, N.J. Find out more at laurajanegrace.com.