Striking Back 

Strike Anywhere's Thomas Barnett on politics, Richmond's version of history and the band's new album.


Style: This sounds like a more personal album.

Barnett: With the songwriting, we wanted to humanize politics and tell real narrative biographical and nonbiographical stories, so we don't become this one-dimensional political cartoon. [The first song is about Barnett's grandfather, who worked as a welder and steamfitter on the Manhattan Project, where he was exposed to weapons-grade uranium believed to have caused birth defects in Barnett's father.]

Tell me about the song "Hollywood Cemetery."

It's about how Richmond has an intense reverence for historical icons but a Southern aristocratic whitewashing at the same time. … Stories about slave rebellions aren't taught with the same emphasis as ones about Thomas Jefferson. We used to break into [Hollywood Cemetery] and drink when we were younger, and you can see all the dead slave-owning presidents and the roots of our expansive, global hypocrisy.… It's a song about anti-heroes, really.

What did you get out of being on the 2005 Vans Warped Tour?

We got a lot of dismay for modern culture and the mainstreaming of art in general. It tends to feel like a desperate shopping mall, a superficial, prepackaged, glittering presentation. We weren't into it at all. They had military recruiters using high-tech stuff to make the war look like a video game and appeal to the testosterone levels of vulnerable young boys. It was insane, so we did our best to be a voice for the anti-war movement from the stage. A lot of our counter-recruitment songs [on this album] about the militarization of pop culture come from our experience on that tour … the idea that the military option is the only one left for inner-city kids who have no access to education or health care, or escaping their class. S

Strike Anywhere plays an all-ages show at Alley Katz Saturday, Sept. 23, with Ignite, Global Threat, Modern Life Is War. 6-10 p.m., $10. An 18-and-older show with Sin Sity AC/DC tribute runs 11 p.m.-2 a.m., $6. 643-2816.

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