Today’s Feature – November 21-22: Rise Against

November 25, 2008 at 2:32 am (Today's Feature)


Not since the days of Bad Religion and NOFX, have I been this excited about a band on the punk-rock scene – and while Chicago-based Rise Against categorically doesn’t define itself with the type of music bands like Bad Religion produced, they are indeed putting some muscle behind the scene. They have all of the key ingredients; a powerful vocal leader that’s impossible to ignore and drums and hooks that punch you in the stomach, but keep you coming back.

What makes this all even better – is how several of my buddies first discovered Rise Against. Madden. Remember when “Drones” appeared on that soundtrack? Without a doubt the best single on it! Tim McIlrath (vocals, guitar), Joe Principe (bass guitar), Brandon Barnes (drums) and Zach Blair (guitar) are the men behind it, and while they may seem relatively new to stardom to some of you, the fact remains these guys have released five albums, a rare material EP, even a DVD.

You’ve heard of “Siren Song of the Counter Culture” and “The Sufferer & the Witness” with some of my favorite hits such as “Swing Life Away” and “Ready to Fall,” but right now the talk is all about “Appeal to Reason.” And it’s for good reason to boot. The latest record opened at #3 on the Billboard 200, so if you had any question before – the band is no doubt sticking around for years to come. Have you seen the passion these guys play with? It’s unreal! They have the gusto and will to make sure everyone understands that their music has cause, and that they mean everything they put out there. Check out a performance for yourself and pick up “Appeal to Reason.” There’s a lot more to learn, so get into the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Rise Against (Richie): Hey Joe. So where did I catch you?

Joe Principe: We are in San Diego. Just got done eating dinner and we’re just hanging out.

Richie: How’s the tour going?

Joe: Really well. It’s one of my favorite tours we’ve done in a long time. We’ve worked with bands on tour before but when you work with bands that you are fans of, it makes it all worth while.

Richie: How is road life treat you?

Joe: It’s good. It’s kind of all we know – we’ve toured so much. The only downside is when you get sick, you can’t shake it. It’s not the healthiest life style.

Richie: I mean, it sounds things are going well. The album “Appeal To Reason” opened at #3.

Joe: Yeah, it’s great. We’re all just in shock with everything.

Richie: With the album doing so well, when you first came into the music industry did you automatically click? With an album this well, it seems like you must have?

Joe: You know, I don’t think we realized it or saw the success that we’ve had. We started and that’s what you do – I mean we grew up in the punk scene and wanted to play music, so we joined a band. You would get together with some people and it’s like, ‘Ok, let’s play a few songs’. And let’s record a demo now, send it out to labels and see what happens. Then we sign with Geffen – it was all very grassroots.

Richie: Was there a certain point when you realized music was going to be a full time career?

Joe: I don’t know. When a song came out and it was doing better and better as a band. We started thinking that we can do this for a long time.

Richie: What can fans expect from Appeal To Reason?

Joe: It’s a representation of us being a band for so many years – how we’ve evolved and stuff we’ve experienced and dedication.

Richie: What can fans expect from a live Rise Against show?

Joe: Very energetic. We like our fans to sing along with us. The show is a release in your own life.

Richie: Well, the fans are definitely reacting. I’ve seen the site and fans are getting tattoos with the logo on them.

Joe: Yeah, it’s awesome.

Richie: Has there been any crazy tattoos you’ve seen.

Joe: Um, well, some girl had a tattoo of Tim (laughs). That’s pretty crazy. I mean it will be on her body forever. But people are that dedicated. It’s fun to meet them and talk to them.

Richie: The band is very outspoken about war and politics. What is your view on the upcoming election? (NOTE: This interview was done prior to the recent Presidential election).

Joe: Well, I already voted for Obama on an absentee ballot. I think they need to focus on is that Obama is raising a family now. He knows what it’s like to live in a world like this now. McCain has already lived his life. Obama knows what is flawed and what needs to be done.

Richie: Being so outspoken, has anyone in the music business tried to quiet you on being outspoken?

Joe: Um, no. We’ve been pretty lucky. They tend to leave us alone. They let us do what we need to do. It’s pretty obvious what we do as a band.

Richie: What can we find you doing when you are not touring?

Joe: Well, we have families, so anything with my family and wives is the best. We are not home very often, so we like to make good use of our time.

Richie: What do you think you’d be doing for a career if it wasn’t music?

Joe:  You know, I have no idea. I went to college to be an accountant and it was miserable.

Richie: Where did you go to college?

Joe: I just went to a community college by my house. If I liked it, I figured I would go to a university. But I never got that far. I dropped everything to play music. Luckily it worked out (laughs).

Richie: Has there been a favorite city for the band on tour?

Joe: Southern California is great. And our hometown of Chicago is always fun. And for some reason we have a big following in Canada. Huge crowds, everyone singing along with us.

Richie: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?

Joe: I think there is a misconception that we are like real serious people because of the content of our music. But we are all real quirky kind of people and just like to have fun together.

Richie: Where do you think you’ll be in ten years?

Joe: Hopefully we’ll have the same kind of relevance as Bad Religion. Hopefully people are still taking interest in our music. As long as we are still relevant and having fun, we’ll still be a band.

Richie: What kind of environment do you have to be in to write?

Joe: I like to write without distraction, late at night when my wife is sleeping. Sometimes I like to drive. For this record, I stayed in this cabin in the woods a couple times. That is very peaceful. It’s a great environment to write music in. That’s what I did (laughs).

Richie: Is there a band we should all be looking into now?

Joe: If you haven’t heard of them yet, try Gas Fire Anthem.

Richie: So, what’s next for the band?

Joe: Just touring. We are going to Canada in December, Australia in March, then back to the states. Just touring.

Richie: Well best of luck on tour and thanks again for talking with me.

Joe: Cool man, thanks a lot.

For more information on Rise Against, check out:


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