Punk Rock Still Able To Shock: Tom Gable of Against Me! Now Laura Jane Grace
Now this shouldn’t be news to fans of the punk band Against Me!, since the lead singer came out in Rolling Stone about 6 months ago about going to begin the process of becoming a woman. But if this is news to you, or you’ve never heard of this band, let me introduce you to what your missing. And maybe you’ll want to road trip out to Austin next weekend to check them out at Fun Fun Fest.
Laura Jane Grace was born Thomas Gabel in Fort Benning, Georgia in 1980. His father was a United States Army Major and so Tom spent most of his childhood moving from place to place, country to country. Even in his childhood, he knew that something was different about him. Playing with dolls and wishing that he could be Madonna and the look of anger and shame his father gave him for it. But the best way he found to mask AND release his true identity was through his band, Against Me!. Being in the masculine world of punk music allowed Gabel to get in touch with his man side and connect with the anger and angst he had. But at the same time, his lyrics became his outlet, filled with subliminal messages about his true identity.
The best example of this is the song “The Ocean” off of Against Me!’s 2007 hit album, New Wave. In the song, Gabel belts out the lyrics:
If I could have chosen, I would have been born a woman.
My mother once told me she would have named me Laura.
I would grow up to be strong and beautiful like her.
One day I’d find an honest man to make my husband.
Now, I actually bought this album when it came out and have this song in my ipod. I fell into the same category as most people who heard it, I didn’t get into the lyrics that deep. Good song, and I esepcially loved the first part of it. But I thought of it more like he was saying what would happen if he would have been a chick. Which is what he intended. Even their CD producer and band manager didn’t think twice about the foreshadowing lyrics.
When Gabel decided to become Laura Jane Grace, the first person he needed to tell was his wife and mother of his daughter, Heather. When she heard the news, her first question was simple: “Does this mean your leaving me?” Once she was reassured that Laura would stay with her, she became completely supportive of her spouse’s decision. The two plan on staying together and raising their daughter as a couple. The band was next to be told and they were fully supportive of their lead singer and her decision. They have continued to record, tour, and be together.
If you have never heard of Against Me! before, let me enlighten you on this band. The band has been around for 15 years, and is known for their political views and crazy live shows bringing the anarchy onto the stage. They sing about a wide array of topics, including politics, economy, and even the trial of environmental activist Eric McDavid. The new album will deal with the difficult subject of Laura Jane Grace’s journey into becoming a woman. The album is titled “Trangender Dysphoria Blues.” They have played over 2,000 shows all over the world, and many of the worlds most prestigious festival concerts like Lollapalooza, COACHELLAFEST, Bonnaroo, Reading and Leeds, and Warped Tour. In addition, the band has toured with the likes of the Foo Fighters, NOFX, Social Distortion, Alkaline Trio, Silversun Pickups, Green Day, and Jimmy Eat World.
Here’s a video of my favorite song by the band,”Thrash Unreal,”a sample of some of the new album,”Transgender Dysphoria Blues”and the song that should have let us all know how she felt,”The Ocean.” This is a band with not only heart but a purpose. I highly recommend all of you out there who may be heading to Fun Fun Fest next weekend to check this band out. And if you want to read the Rolling Stone article Laura did about her transgender journey, click here.