Laura Jane Grace: “I just kind of shut myself down to everybody and shut off my phone, and then I quit smoking weed and made a record!”

Laura Jane Grace
(Image credit: Alex Viscius)

If there’s one fanbase out there who truly knows the definition of patience, it’s that of Floridian punk band Against Me!. In the four years since releasing their fantastic seventh album, Shape Shift With Me (which this scribe will happily defend as one of their top three releases, no matter how unpopular that opinion may ring at large), we’ve come annoyingly close to receiving a follow-up – first in 2018, before the material was scrapped in favour of Bought To Rot, an album by frontwoman Laura Jane Grace with her side-project The Devouring Mothers; and again in 2020, before the Coronavirus pandemic forced them to cancel a touring stint that would’ve led directly into a month of studio time.

Promises of a demo compilation – sneakily released under the pseudonym Angela Baker to avoid label dramas – were also cut when Grace decided instead to focus on recording a solo album in isolation. Thankfully however, that album – the 14-track Stay Alive, surprise-released on October 1st via Polyvinyl – is fantastic. It’s bright, dry and narrative-focussed, almost every track comprised of Grace and her acoustic guitar unfettered, all kinks and cracks laid bare as she sings and strums her heart out. It was recorded with fellow Chicago-based rock dog Steve Albini, whose skills as a decidedly hands-off collaborator came in handy when Grace strived to forge as organic an encapsulation of her songwriting as possible.

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Ellie Robinson
Editor-at-Large, Australian Guitar Magazine

Ellie Robinson is an Australian writer, editor and dog enthusiast with a keen ear for pop-rock and a keen tongue for actual Pop Rocks. Her bylines include music rag staples like NME, BLUNT, Mixdown and, of course, Australian Guitar (where she also serves as Editor-at-Large), but also less expected fare like TV Soap and Snowboarding Australia. Her go-to guitar is a Fender Player Tele, which, controversially, she only picked up after she'd joined the team at Australian Guitar. Before then, Ellie was a keyboardist – thankfully, the AG crew helped her see the light…