Inge Johansson’s jacket is speckled with buttons. I study them as he combs his coal-black hair in the green room’s mirror. We’re backstage at The Intersection in Grand Rapids, Michigan, about two hours before Against Me! is scheduled to play.
One button flashes brighter than all the others, a small white circle that reads “The Most.” I recognize the band immediately. Like many people who sang about Florida and are from Florida, The Most never made it out of the state. They rarely even made it out of Gainesville. Despite penning a string of idiosyncratic yet powerful anthems, The Most is only remembered by a handful of people, most of whom are like me — Florida ex-pats that work here at Consequence of Sound.
Still, if anyone else knows about The Most, it would be one of the members of Against Me!, a band whose name has become synonymous with Gainesville culture, although in a much different way than Tom Petty or the University of Florida Gators. I ask Johansson about his button.
He stops combing his hair for a moment.
“You know them,” he asks, smiling.
I nod, then make sure we’re talking about the same Most — The Most who broke up after only one album, The Most who will unfortunately never reunite since their lead guitarist died in 2009 while mastering the record. Johansson cocks his head and informs me that we’re speaking of different groups. The Most he’s repping is a Beat band that hails from his native Sweden (the university town of Umeå, to be exact). Later on, I’ll discover that he actually plays bass in this band, but was too polite to point out my idiotic blunder.
Of course, these are all facts that should have been obvious as soon as I stepped backstage. I knew well before the interview that Johansson was Swedish and now lives in Norway. Hell, the guy was in The International Noise Conspiracy. And, even if I hadn’t done a lick of rock-journalist homework, his accent should have given away that he’s not from Gainesville. But none of that mattered, because, like many others, I’ve long thought of Against Me! as a Gainesville band, or at least a Florida band.
And I probably always will, even if I shouldn’t. These days, only two current members are true Floridians: guitarist James Bowman and frontwoman Laura Jane Grace. And, as of August, neither of them permanently live there anymore. Grace recently moved to Chicago and Bowman spends most of his time in New Jersey with his partner and their child.
As Grace puts it, “It’s the first time in the history of the band that none of the people actually live in Florida.”