If Against Me! sounds a bit more comfortable or even relaxed on its forthcoming CD, “White Crosses,” maybe it’s a reflection of being in a more familiar place in writing and recording.

For the punk band, coming to Port City Music Hall on Wednesday, the new CD (in stores June 8) marks its second time working with producer Butch Vig (he also produced 2007’s “New Wave”).

“‘New Wave,’ I mean, we went into that with a very open mind and we were willing to approach and take direction from Butch,” bandleader Tom Gabel said in a recent phone interview. “But at the same time, we had never met him before so you’re entering into a situation where we’re working with a new record label and we’re working with this producer, and we don’t know if the producer is going to be cool.

“But then it turns out that Butch is incredibly cool, and we have a great working relationship together.”

There was no learning curve in working with Vig, who is famous for having produced Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” on “White Crosses.”

Gabel was also comfortable with the songs he had for “White Crosses,” thanks to spending more time in preproduction honing the songs with Vig than on any of the previous albums.

The work that went on before and during the recording has paid off, with a CD that rocks with punkish verve on songs such as “High Pressure Low” and “Rapid Decompression,” but also finds room for a pair of effective midtempo songs (“Suffocation” and “Bamboo Bones”) and even a couple of ballads, “We’re Breaking Up” and “Ache With Me.”

The songs throughout are highly melodic and tightly played, yet they also breathe and don’t sound overly polished. In a word, the group sounds comfortable in its own skin.

That’s not to suggest that Against Me! has ever sounded anything less than committed to its music on album, or for that matter in its live shows, which are famous for their energy and passion.

But there have been some recent ups and downs for Against Me!, which had started out as a solo acoustic project for Gabel in 1997 before he brought on three additional musicians, guitarist James Bowman, bassist Dustin Fridkin (who was later replaced by current bassist Andrew Seward) and drummer Warren Oakes, and made the 2001 CD, “Reinventing Axl Rose,” as a full-fledged band.

Before recording “White Crosses,” the group parted ways with Oakes. He was replaced by George Rebelo, who for years played drums in Hot Water Music, a band that, like Against Me!, was based out of Gainesville, Fla.

A song on “White Crosses” called “We’re Breaking Up” deals with some of the tensions and other transitions occurring in the time leading up to the making of the new CD, including the split with Oakes.

“The song itself is about relationships coming to an end,” Gabel said. “Obviously, we went through some changes as a band, but then beyond that, there were instances in our personal lives too, for me especially, where it felt like there were kind of a lot of chapters in my life closing and new ones beginning. And I just kind of wanted to address all of those topics in one song and kind of sum up that feeling.”

Gabel also said he was able to bring more of a sense of freedom to the subject matter on “White Crosses,” which seems a bit less political than on earlier CDs.

“With this album there wasn’t an agenda for writing,” Gabel said. “A lot of the times in the past, it’s like you go into an album and you’re like, ‘I really want to write about these topics. These topics have to be touched on.’ Especially a lot of the times with previous records, it was like, ‘OK, the war happening has to be addressed.’“

“(With ‘White Crosses’), whatever came to mind, write it down on paper,” Gabel said. “Figure out what it means later on. Just let it all spill out.”


Alan Sculley is a freelance writer.


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