For Against Me! frontman Tom Gabel, sometimes you have to get the hell, out just to find your way back in. The past 12 years have seen Gabel rise from acoustic folk-punk gunslinger in the dives of Gainesville, Florida to releasing Against Me!'s four searing, blood-smeared slices of scrappy punk. The last of which, 2007's New Wave, was the major label debut, one that Spin magazine anointed as their Album Of The Year. And while Gainesville was home, Gabel felt the walls closing in when touring for New Wave came to an end. So he split. With his wife, he left behind the "didja-hear-about-so-and-so" insular Gainesville world for the sleepy beach town of St. Augustine, wandering the streets and driving dusty back roads: searching, pining, hoping for inspiration.
He found it in spades. The result is White Crosses, as powerful and as bold a rock record as one can imagine. The band - Gabel, guitarist James Bowman, bassist Andrew Seward and new drummer George Rebelo - roar like fighter jets screaming over a stadium on the anthemic title-track (with its shout along line about smashing the 4,000 crosses on a local church's lawn, ones that signify the number of babies aborted each day in the U.S.). Joining that is the escapist fury of "Spanish Moss," and the short stick of dynamite, "Rapid Decompression." New Wave eschewed some of the roughness of the band's earlier efforts, but White Crosses goes even further in filling out the band's wallop. With its twinkling piano and a glorious whoa-oa chorus, "Because Of The Shame" could be an outtake from Bruce Springsteen's classic Born To Run. "Ache With Me" is a slow-jam that would make Paul Westerberg blush, while "High Pressure Low" is Billy Idol meets fellow Gainesville native Tom Petty. "This is my Florida record," says Gabel. ""I spent a lot of time writing this record while driving directionless on forgotten Florida state roads, highly caffeinated, with albums like [Petty's] Full Moon Fever blasting on my stereo."
Producer Butch Vig - who also helmed New Wave - pushed the band to make White Crosses more dynamic while retaining the bruising roundhouse rights they've thrown since their 2001 debut Reinventing Axl Rose. "Looking at it now I think [Vig] was a little conservative with New Wave. He didn't want to come in and scare us, says Gabel. "I think it was an unspoken agreement this time around that we were going to push ourselves farther than we ever had before. No direction was off limits. I'm not afraid of melody. I have visions of playing these songs in stadiums, looking out and seeing an ocean of people singing along."