With six studio albums in the bank and countless hit singles, Chicago’s Rise Against have been unstoppable, taking their political punk-rock anthems from city to city; however following their Endgame world tour the band were burnt out and needed a break.
“We took some time off with our families and it was kind of the first time we spent time apart from one another,” bas player, Joe Principe reveals. “We’re all very close friends, but it was time to not think about music and to really hang out and get to know our home life and to stay off the road for a little bit. It was definitely enough time and we’re ready to get back at it. We’re really excited to start playing live again, it’s something I really miss.”
The burn-out took its toll the most on vocalist, Tim McIlrath, who decided to take some time away from political writing to generate some of Rise Against’s most personal lyrics to date on their new LP, The Black Market.
“I think first and foremost is that this was the place Tim was at while we were writing the record. He’s always written all of the lyrics and I think with this record he was feeling the need to get out a more personal record, this introspective record and it’s great.
“The black market kind of represents the place Tim has usually gone to when writing these lyrics and by place I mean mentally,” Principe explains. “It’s a very dark place to write about the spoils of war and what’s going on in the world in general… all the shitty things. And it was hard for him to get in that frame of mind with this record and he kind of felt like he wanted to address that. “The song, The Black Market, kind of talks about how he feels like if he forced this political record, it would be like he was just doing it for the sake of selling Rise Against records. He felt the need to explain that to our audience. At least for me that’s what this record is about.”
Whilst the change in concept may be a big one at first glance; Principe believes fans will see the evolution and growth in the band whilst still maintaining their hardcore punk sound.
“I personally feel that if fans sit down with this record and give it some time they will realise this record has so much energy that comes from our punk roots. This record has this vibe and I feel like our fans will pick up on that if they give it a chance. It’s something that I’m proud of, that in 2014 this is what Rise Against sounds like. As a songwriter there’s going to be growth; that’s just the natural part of growing up and expanding our influences. If we wrote the exact same record every time it would be boring.”
Whilst the new record features a more personal orientation, the band won’t stop their activism, with Principe focussed on a modern social issue.
“What drives me crazy and where a real problem lies is people being apathetic and people thinking, ‘what’s the point of trying?’ because problems are too big to change or solve and that mentality just drives me crazy. It’s like them trying to reform health care in the US. You have all the conservatives freaking out with Obamacare because they won’t make money off the system that was already in place and it’s so greedy.
“That just drives me crazy that people are scared of change. People need to have an open mind when there are new things being put in place.”