Before becoming a full-fledged punk band, Against Me! was an acoustic solo project spearheaded by Laura Jane Grace, who began playing shows as a 17-year-old in Gainesville, FL. Starting in 1997, Grace performed as a solo act wherever anyone would have her, drawing much influence from early acoustic protest music. By 2001, she'd beefed up her sound with the help of a full band — including guitarist James Bowman, drummer Warren Oakes, and bassist Andrew Seward — but there would always be some anarchism and Billy Bragg in the group's raucous braggadocio. After a few initial 12" and 7" releases, Against Me! issued the fan favorite Reinventing Axl Rose in 2002. The underground hit blended elements of punk, folk, and country into socially conscious and impassioned anthems. Continuing their reputation of always being on the road, the musicians logged countless tour dates around the country in support of their early material.
And here is "Ocean," one of many songs that took on a new dimension after the Rolling Stone article. As I was just discussing with lifelong AM! lover Megan Seling, the "Laura" verse of "Ocean" made me cry the first time I heard it back in 2008, when I assumed it was a 21st-century punk taking Kurt Cobain's feminist empathy to the next level, brilliantly. Now we know it was a confession. That's good art.