Editors’ Notes Veteran punk rockers Anti-Flag have always delivered catchy tunes with a sharp political edge, but they’ve avoided criticizing specific American presidents by name, even when they disagreed with whoever was occupying the White House. That all changes with 20/20 Vision, the Pittsburgh-based band’s 12th studio album, which takes on Donald Trump with Anti-Flag’s vision for the future. “The year 2020 has always felt really big and impactful and important to me,” bassist Chris “No. 2” Barker tells Apple Music. “Being faced with that, I thought we needed to make a statement, because the times that we're living in are so arduous for so many people.” Here Barker talks through all 11 songs on the album.

Hate Conquers All
“This song was born out of the campaigning of Donald Trump and the counteractions that happened. There were a lot of these signs that said ‘Love Trumps Hate,’ meaning if we put love out into the world, we will beat back evil. And I think that's cool. I like that sentiment. But the unfortunate part is that a lot of what Donald Trump is doing is not hateful. It's racist; it's xenophobic. And so we need to use the language accordingly to address these issues.”

It Went Off Like a Bomb
“‘It Went Off Like a Bomb’ is talking about moments that saw the campaign rhetoric turn into violence and deaths. We’re from Pittsburgh, and we had a shooting happen in our hometown—blocks away from where our drummer Pat lived, blocks away from where Justin, our other guitar player and singer, went to school. It’s the largest anti-Semitic attack in US history. The person [had] a manifesto that’s quoting the rhetoric of the White House that is white nationalist and white supremacist, and those flash bangs are happening all around us now.”

20/20 Vision
“We tried to make the record heavier to start with and then add some optimism to it. ‘20/20 Vision’ is kind of where that optimism begins. I love the idea of an egalitarian state where we’re free of social and economic and racial injustices. And so the song is really just asking, ‘What do you want the future to be? Do you want it to be more of the same, or do you want it to be different and filled with equity?’ That’s a radical statement in 2020, and it’s punk as fuck to be kind right now. That’s the overarching theme of the record and specifically this song.”

Christian Nationalist
“This song is really directed at Mike Pence. We have a self-proclaimed Christian nationalist in the White House, and the work that he has done to hurt LGBTQ+ folks, there’s a long history of it. The work that he’s done to make abortion illegal and strip away the rights of women is well-documented. So it’s a knee-jerk reaction to this person whose values and their radical religious beliefs I feel are so far out of step with what is good for the people of the United States that we wanted to address it head on. It’s also really melodic and poppy.”

Don't Let the Bastards Get You Down
“There are people working tirelessly at Amnesty International to free political prisoners or save whales as part of Sea Shepherd or whatever, and very few people clap for them when they're done. So this song is celebrating the champions of saving the planet, of leading the Extinction Rebellion and the Fridays for Future movement. And then into the Women's Marches and the other realms of activism that we encounter, and just serving them a message to, for lack of a better phrase, don't let the bastards get them down.”

“This is the most personal song on the album. Justin wrote it about his mom, who was tremendously influential on him. His parents were so cool—they developed the first vegetarian grocery store and co-op in Pittsburgh. They were leaders of the anti-nuclear movement, leaders of the antiwar movement in Pittsburgh. She passed away from cancer last year, and when he was unveiling this song to us, he was talking about how he wanted to do a similar thing that we were just talking about with ‘Bastards’ and lift up people that are hurting right now.”

The Disease
“This is about the kind of scourge-of-the-earth language that the ultra-elites use to describe people that are downtrodden. It's kind of taking ownership of it by saying, ‘Yeah, we are a disease. We are a cancer that will infest a world that supports the largest wealth gap in the history of our lifetimes.’ So it's taking down the machine from within, using their language against them and taking ownership of being considered a disease or being considered a plague on their lifestyle or their status quo.”

A Nation Sleeps
“This song is born out of the prison-industrial complex that America is forged on. We have a lot of discussion about racism and the ways we can tackle racism, but until we talk about for-profit prisons, until we talk about segregation being not just a thing that was done away with via Martin Luther King and in mass protest, but a thing that's still in place—the economic segregation—we're not going to be able to have real conversations on what racism is and how we challenge it. The nation is asleep to the fact that slavery didn't go away. It just became the for-profit prison-industrial complex.”

You Make Me Sick
“‘You Make Me Sick’ was born out of this alt-right, neo-fascist meme blogger world that’s happening—and the fact that there's this unique connection between being an alt-right troll and being supremely misogynistic. When we talk about the Milos [Yiannopoulos] and Richard Spencers of the world, we talk about their racism or their bigotry, but they are so insane whenever it comes to the rights of women and treating women with equality. And then the song also lives in this world where it can be about your ex-lover who was terrible to you, too.”

“‘Un-American’ is an idea that we would usually not touch with a 150-foot pole because we don’t see ourselves as people who should champion what is American and what isn’t. But it’s impossible to ignore the violence that was necessary for America to be born and to become what it is. So the idea of saying, ‘This value is un-American’—that doesn’t make any sense to me. Nationalist movements think you’re un-American if you kneel during the national anthem at a football game, and that is so fucking ridiculous to me.”

Resistance Frequencies
“I wrote this song the night of Trump’s first State of the Union Address. It’s got a very London Calling Clash vibe. That’s an album that I’ve dissected many times, and one of the things I love about that record is that even though they were faced with a lot of the things we’re facing now, there was this eternal hope in it. I wanted to make sure that this record ended hopeful.”


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