Rise Against delivers their 'Appeal to Reason'
Chicago punk-rock band Rise Against makes no apologies for its politically and socially charged lyrics. But it doesn't want to be known for "force feeding" its views to listeners.
"The political side of this band is just that--it's a side," said bassist Joe Principe during a recent phone interview from New York City. "There are political lyrics. There are social-awareness [lyrics] and there are lyrics about the environment. I think if people take the time to read the lyrics, they'll know we're not strictly force feeding you our politics. We don't like to force feed anything. That doesn't get the job done. We just like to present our views and ask that people listen and make up their own minds. That's what's great about living here. You can make up your own mind."
To carry home that point, Rise Against included the song "Collapse (Post-Amerika)" on its latest album, "Appeal to Reason." The song encourages listeners to not remain politically neutral: "Neutrality means that you don't really care / Cuz the struggle goes on whether or not you're there / Blind and unaware."
According to Principe, lead singer Tim McIlrath pens lyrics based on his personal beliefs.
"Tim's always had the lyric job in the band," said Principe, an avid Barack Obama supporter. "He's always been the lyricist. He just writes from a personal perspective about what's going on in his world. That's why you get political songs, songs about relationships. It's kind of what he's going through. I think you can relate that to your lives. I really like that."
It was McIlrath who came up with the title of the album, "Appeal to Reason," which hit No. 1 on iTunes upon its release.
"It was the name of a Socialist newspaper from, like, 1897," Principe said. "It kind of stems from unfair labor. During the industrial revolution, it spawned the eight-hour work day and unfair labor treatment. That was their cause. That's where Tim got it from. He thought it was a cool thing. It inspires change."
The album was produced by Bill Stevenson, formerly of the punk-rock bands Black Flag, the Descendents and All, as well as Jason Livermore at The Blasting Room in Fort Collins, CO. Principe said the two are like the fifth and sixth members of Rise Against.
"I don't know if any producer would get us like they do," Principe said. "Bill's old bands Black Flag and the Descendents, and even All, they were, like, huge influences on us growing up. He just gets where we're coming from. They really get the best performances out of us. It couldn't be a better match."
Principe called new guitarist Zach Blair a perfect match as well; to be more precise, "he's an amazing guitar player."
"Tim and I, we've always written all the music, but what Zach brings is his little touch," said Principe, who is also joined in the band by drummer Brandon Barnes. "He's a really good lead-guitar player. You can hear it on the record. We have more--I don't want to say soloing like a metal band--guitar intricacies than the last album. It shows on the record. He's really amazing live. I think that, first and foremost, is the most obvious thing. His live show is great. I love having the energy on stage."
Joining Rise Against on stage for the US run are fellow Chicagoans Alkaline Trio, as well as The Gaslight Anthem and Thrice.
"We've been friends with Matt [Skiba, Alkaline Trio lead singer/guitarist] for over a decade. Him and Danny [Andriano, bassist/vocalist], they're from Chicago and Tim and I are from Chicago. We grew up in the same scene," he said.
On its Canadian tour, Sage Francis and Thursday will jump on board, something that equally excites Principe.
"Sage Francis is a hip-hop artist and we've never toured with a hip-hop artist before," Principe said. "He's very political. He shares similar views. I think it'll be very interesting. We're really excited about it."