By Dylan Bender
Against Me! Vocalist Laura Jane Grace has been finding a way to navigate a new world for artists, created by a post-pandemic world. Her Canadian tour, which was initially slated to begin in March, is kicking off in Green Bay, Wisconsin on August 25, and ending at Fargo Brewing on September 29. She took some time out to chat about surreal career moments, maneuvering in the new world for artists, and pastimes to help deal with it all.
Releasing her last album, “Stay Alive,” in October of 2020, she found herself unable to tour but also developing a new mindset toward the touring cycles and releasing schedules that have been the norm for so long. She said “You could wait to release music and try to plan for when things open back up, and it would be safe to tour again. Or you could keep putting out music, and when it IS safe to tour again, just start touring. Diverging from the traditional model of releasing an album, and touring that exclusively.”
The new challenges don’t end at touring, however. As we all know, supply chain issues have caused many goods to rise in price or become more difficult to produce. This extends even to the production of vinyl records, which have seen large delays in production times. This is something Laura has dealt with for her September 2021 e.p. “At War With the Silverfish.”
Noting the irony, she said “the early bird special preorder color is still not done being manufactured because of holdups with the pressing plant. So it’s like if that's the way it’s gonna be if it takes a full year to get vinyl pressed I don’t think you can think in those terms. You just have to have more separation as an artist between the idea of releases and promotion. Put out stuff as you record it and as it feels right, and tour as it feels right, and hopefully it's promoting everything.”
When Laura started playing shows again in August of 2021 she did so tentatively, playing a few shows a month, so that if anything were to happen it wouldn’t be a large financial setback. One was at the Four Seasons Landscaping Company, the site of Rudy Guliani’s infamous 2020 speech. As a sort of mocking gesture, a surreal experience, and a good way of signifying a return to performances.
Returning to shows is invigorating, even in an altered world, and it brought some other standout memories to Laura Jane’s mind. A moment like playing with Miley Cyrus and Joan Jett at Cyrus’ LA home saying “It was a surreal moment, comparable to playing the place where Guliani had a press conference, but also at a totally different end of the spectrum.” Moments like a festival in Germany where the stage was at the end of a cattle trough in a barn.
A show in the basement of a bagel shop in Columbus, Ohio. In a room filled with exposed wires, watching the hot sweaty condensation accumulate on the walls, and seeing the wires start to spark. She recalled thinking “‘Oh my god! This is NOT fucking safe, we need to get out of here!’ And then just playing on anyways, and somehow it works out.”
After talking for a while about great moments from the past and adapting to the challenges of the future, she spoke about some of the things that helped her keep collected during the last few uncertain years. During the first year of Covid, running helped keep her grounded. “I would just go running all day long. To the point where in November, the day before my 40th birthday, I broke my foot, and it was just because I had been over-exerting, and over-running. I was just stress-running.” She said that she still keeps the habit up and that it's a great way to explore cities while on tour. She noted as well that she had spent many hours reading, and with music. Her three big passions, with a strong nod to the runner-up, coffee.
IF YOU GO
Laura Jane Grace will be performing at the Hall at Fargo Brewing Hall on September 29th at 8pm, with support from Pass the Flask.
Tickets can be purchased at: https://jadepresents.com/event/2022-laura-jane-gra...
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