There are a few bands that have as much acclaim in the punk scene as Rise Against. They’ve been writing absolutely fantastic albums since the early 00s and they haven’t been showing any signs of slowing down at any point. They just dropped their eighth studio album and we got the chance to catch up with Joe Principe, the long term bassist of the band.
“Our voice should be heard and should be feared.”
‘I think the general theme is a sense of empowerment with our fans. It’s like our voice should be heard and should be feared. To me I think the question authority thing applies to that where being complacent doesn’t really get anything done or inspire change.’ Joe contemplates, ‘so raising your voice and making waves that’s what gets things done, that’s kind of what Wolves means to me because there’s definitely a history of peaceful protest and things of that nature inspiring change for the better. I would personally like our listeners to know that’s what we’re getting at, we want to you to make your voice mean something.’
Rise Against have always been a political band. Because of this a lot of people expected Rise Against to write an album in 2017 what with the current climate but that isn’t the whole story according to Joe. ‘We started this record pre-election so we assumed that we were going to have our first woman president and things were going to be great and historic. That’s obviously a milestone, something that would have been a great historic moment in the history of the United States. Then we woke up the next day and Trump had won like ‘oh shit.’’
‘We were just in shock we didn’t even work that day, on election day. When it was announced that he won we just took that day off. It’s definitely frightening times.’
‘Tim had just started writing for the record and that made him have to take a step back and restructure his lyrics. Luckily I think we only had a couple of songs written, lyrically, at that time. Musically the music was there but it definitely changed the lyrical direction.’
Joe then went on to muse about the way that they write their music, ‘as far as the mood of the music we’ve always written whatever we feel like at that moment. Like if I’m at home writing a song it’s kind of like my emotional release so it’s whatever I’m going through as far as music goes, it’s the same for Tim. These songs kind of started going in the direction of, to me, higher energy maybe more in the direction of our roots and that’s just what was coming out.’
‘We didn’t really sit down and say we’re going to write this kind of record or that kind of record, it’s just whatever, it’s very fluid there’s no planning really. I feel like you get the best records that way. If you kind of set these standards and assign these rules to yourself and your song writing then it doesn’t come out sincere all the time.’
For the first time Rise Against recorded their album not in a big city but in Nashville. Joe tells us about the circumstances out there. ‘Physically the studio was very small so it was close quarters. If you weren’t in the room recording or writing a song there was really nowhere else to go. We were always in the same room trying to write or figure out how songs should take shape and things like that. It definitely helps, I think we drew closer together as a band doing it that way for sure.’
‘To me that’s how we started Rise Against you’re living in the same van and there’s one hotel room for the earlier tours. I think after a while when you’re a bigger band you can kind of lose touch with one another you know? Everyone’s kind of off on tour doing their own thing. It’s kind of like any long relationship, you get really comfortable and then you take a step back and you start trying to find your own space.’
‘This record kind of brought us all back together again in that same room, that punk rock environment where we’re just grinding it out for like eight hours a day or whatever. It definitely shows and it helps that’s all we knew growing up so it was nice to go back to that. It was almost like getting reacquainted with everyone, not to say we weren’t friends before but when you’re in the same room as someone for eight hours a day it reminds you why you love playing with this person or that person. It was very beneficial to do that.’
“This record brought us all back together again”
Like it or not Rise Against will take whoever they want on tour with them. This year they’ve toured with bands as far apart as Thrice and Deftones to Pierce the Veil and they’re bringing Sleeping With Sirens on their UK tour later this year. How does a punk band come to the decision to do this? ‘It was a personal love of these bands and what they represent or just their sound. I appreciate the ferocity of White Lung and it is nice to have something different, I’ve been doing this for sixteen years it’s nice to mix it up.’
‘I love touring with other punk rock bands like I love touring with Rancid and Bad Religion and they’re our friends but it’s definitely nice to mix it up. It offers ours fans something new too, we’ll always have those tours with those staple punk rock bands but it’s just nice to mix it up.’
Rise Against’s new album, Wolves, is out now via Virgin Records.
WORDS: NATHAN REYNOLDS
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