From Madonna to Crass: a musical tour through the life of Laura Jane Grace

Against Me! leader Laura Jane Grace takes us through her life story, from a young punk teen in Florida to her public gender transition, all chronicled in her latest book, Tranny.
Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace in the q studio in Toronto, Ont. (Cathy Irving/CBC)

Against Me! is a band whose career has been shaped by extreme circumstance. From starting in the Florida anarchist punk scene to conquering mainstream rock radio, and then tackling fame, money, drugs, sex, death, fired drummers and a very public gender transition for lead singer Laura Jane Grace, the band has had to evolve to survive. 

By all accounts, the band is now thriving, playing for thousands of people on a nightly basis, and its new record, Shape Shift With Me, has been met with acclaim from critics and fans alike. But when Grace published her memoir, Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock's Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout, she revealed struggles that may have killed lesser bands, and lesser people. 

Today, Grace talks to Tom Power about her new book and we take a musical journey through her life. Below are Grace's comments on the songs mentioned in the interview.

Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock's Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout is out now.

Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace with Tom Power in the q studios in Toronto, Ont. (Cathy Irving/CBC)

Madonna, 'Material Girl'

"That was the first moment of self-recognition where you see yourself in somebody or who you'd like to become. That was also my first moment of disconnect where I was like, oh, but wait — I can't."

Green Day, 'Longview'

"That was the first concert I ever went to. I just remember being there and it was my first time seeing a mosh pit and being so terrified but being like, we've got to go in."

Crass, 'Big A Little A'

"They were dangerous in a way that other punk bands weren't dangerous. They had this otherworldly aspect but the anarchist politics that they progressed were so much more real than any other punk band that I had ever heard."

Against Me!, 'Thrash Unreal'

"The period of writing that record and recording New Wave was magical and it was a really good period of time. It was really once the record came out that that fantasy world started to shatter."

Against Me!, 'The Ocean'

"It feels very empowering now. We had to fight to even get it as the last song on the record. The label didn't like it."

Against Me!, 'Haunting, Haunted, Haunts'

— Produced by Mitch Pollock