Two members of Anti-Flag spin off for atmospheric indie band

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There's no need for the punk rock community to panic. Anti-Flag is alive and well and still hoping to release its next album in the fall.

In the meantime, though, the members are spending part of the their summer in different camps. Frontman Justin Sane is working on a solo album and playing some solo gigs.

The two Chrises in the band -- Chris #2 and Chris Head -- have joined forces with Roger Harvey (aka Dandelion Snow) and Tyler Kweder (American Armada) to form the band White Wives, which they insist is not a "side project."

The genesis of the band goes back to 2003 when Chris #2 met Mr. Harvey while Anti-Flag was touring with Pittsburgh ska-punk band The Code.

White Wives

With: Balance and Composure

Where: 222 Ormsby St., Mount Oliver.

When: 6 p.m. Friday.

Admission: $5; www.wearewhitewives.com.

"[Roger] was 15 and selling T-shirts for The Code, and Anti-Flag took The Code on a full U.S. tour. And I ran over to the van going, 'How the [hell] could you take a 15-year-old across the country?' And Mark from The Code pulled out this handwritten note from Roger's mom that said, 'He's allowed to tour...' and from that point I knew I had a strange cat on my hands," Chris #2 said.

About 21/2 years ago, Chris #2 heard his songs as the folky Dandelion Snow project in Brooklyn and wrote to him saying that they were amazing and that he wanted to produce his album in Pittsburgh.

"He literally sent me like 40 songs and I didn't know what to do with them because I thought they were all great," he said. "So we narrowed it down for the Dandelion Snow record ['The Grand Scheme of Things'], but it was in that time where I was like 'I might need to disrupt this kid's life and tell him to move to Pittsburgh and start a band with me.' Thankfully, he wasn't too committed to bar-backing in Brooklyn. For a solo musician, Brooklyn is probably the place to be, but I uprooted him from a place where he could probably be discovered," he says, cracking up, "and brought him to our town, where ... that doesn't happen as much."

Stylistically, White Wives is a departure for all the members, as the two Chrises add not punk rock but more of an epic indie-rock sound.

"I take his slow songs," Chris #2 says, "sometimes just voice and guitar or voice and piano arrangements, and either add to or take away from them. It's pretty different from anything I've ever done. First off, I really enjoy playing guitar. Second, I can just focus on structures, atmospheric parts, giving the songs peaks and valleys. That's been a really interesting challenge for me. I'm grateful to have White Wives in my life for that reason."

The name was taken from a group of Dutch anarchists from the '60s who were part of the Provo movement because, Chris #2 said, they liked the way "they added humor, love, fun to their politics. We try to do the same with our songs. We have not written a single 'political' song. We stray from the path that we maybe started on."

The band's debut record was recorded in Nashville with Pittsburgh producer Justin Francis and will be released on Tuesday by Adeline Records, co-owned by Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day. After a Pittsburgh release show, White Wives will head on a tour of the Midwest and Canada.

"Anti-Flag was just in Europe for two-and-a-half weeks and White Wives goes out for two weeks, and there's no lull in between. But I feel it's worth it to spread myself thin."

In terms of Anti-Flag, he's says there's no drama whatsoever.

"The thing about Anti-Flag is that we are at a point in our life where we have a history and people come out and see us," he said. "Releasing a new record is important to the four of us, but it has to be really good for it to merit coming out. We're afforded the ability to take our time -- we don't have to just rush things out. If we do that, we tarnish the things we've created."


Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com ; 412-263-2576; Twitter: @scottmervis_pg; blog: www.post-gazette.com/popnoise .


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