Against Me! frontman Tom Gabel is "tired of battling it out with what's punk and what's not punk," so for the act's upcoming release "New Wave," due July 10 via Sire Records, he's sticking with the basics.

"This is a straight-across-the-board rock record," he tells "I don't mean to say that it's not punk, but I don't want to get into a f*cking debate ... so I'm just going to say it's a rock record."

Gabel penned the songs for "New Wave" during a year-and-a-half long tour in support of 2005's "Searching for a Former Clarity," which has sold 52,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. About four months into the trek, the Gainesville, Fla., act left San Francisco-based indie Fat Wreck Chords and signed to Sire, after which Gabel came to a startling realization.

"After we signed, we were like, 'Sh*t, we're going to have to write this record on the road because [Sire] is going to want us to record as soon as we're done touring," he says. "I would write the songs in hotel rooms or in the van, then come to soundcheck and work out the songs."

Gabel says "New Wave," which was produced by Butch Vig (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins), moves away from the "drastic highs and lows" found on "Searching for a Former Clarity," and that fans won't find any folky acoustic punk anthems. "It's definitely a rock record," he reaffirms.

The singer/guitarist also notes that songs on the new set have more individual flair than in the past. "With 'Searching for a Former Clarity,' I felt a lot of the songs relied on the songs before or afterwards both lyrically and musically. They only made sense in the context of the record," he says. "With ['New Wave'], I just wanted to write good individual songs that stood on their own."

For the tone of "New Wave," Gabel aimed to compose "optimistic" songs "with defiance" that weren't "beaten down and submissive. In the face of everything that's happening in the world around us ... I wanted to write about topics that other people can identify with," he says. "I'm not a good fiction writer; I can only write about things I know about."

Against Me! recently launched a co-headline club/theater tour with Mastodon, along with openers Cursive and Planes Mistaken For Stars. After the month-long U.S. trek, which ends May 26 in Atlanta, the quartet will visit Australia and Europe in June before returning stateside for various shows, including a Lollapalooza set in Chicago in August.

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