Interview with Rise Against: Still Going Against The Grain

Rise AgainstRise Against has been a band for a nearly a decade, releasing album after album of hard-hitting, socially conscious punk rock that always seems relevant. Guitarist Joe Principe talks about the band’s new record, Appeal To Reason, what it means to release your fifth album, and why young bands need to get a clue.

When did you start working on the new record?

Tim and I kinda wrote throughout the last year or two, but we didn’t actually sit down until December. We’ve been working non-stop since December with those songs. I think this is the longest amount of time—from the start until the release date— that we’ve ever taken on a record.

How long were you in the studio?

We recorded for about two months and even that was on the long side for us. We just wanted to make sure that we covered all our bases and that we were making it the best it could be. We’re going on our fifth album and I think that’s the time when either bands start rehashing old stuff or it’s time for some progression. I think we achieved the latter.

Does putting out your fifth record officially make you a career band?

Yeah I guess it does. I don’t think we’ve ever thought about it that way. Time flies by, that’s for sure. We started out in December of ’99. I don’t have any complaints. I like the way we’re moving. I don’t really see it as, ‘Oh it’s our fifth record,’ other than the songwriting. I just see it as, ‘This is what we do— we tour and we write a new record.’ Hopefully it’s getting better and better. But it gets harder as you get older and start settling down into a real family life. Our fanbase keeps growing and growing and the demand is getting greater and greater so it’s hard.

Is it weird to you that you’ve become one of the older musicians on the scene and you’re not even really old?

Yeah. We did Warped Tour this summer and you kinda look around and there’s so many new bands. It seems like bands are popping faster than they did when I was growing up. I think it’s a lot easier to start a band, especially with the fact that you can record on your computer. I didn’t have that luxury growing up and it wasn’t even that long ago. Technology’s changing so quickly. And bands are getting signed without ever even playing a show. Labels are scanning the Internet for these bands and it’s a weird time.

I don’t think younger bands quite grasp—I’m not saying all—the work ethic. We got in a van and we toured for two or three years straight, getting $50 a show. You’re building towards something. With them it’s like instant success or almost like an instant reward with a label deal. It’s just a strange time. I was walking around Warped Tour thinking, ‘How are these younger band viewing us? Are we the old guys?’ We’re all late 20s, early 30s, which isn’t really that old. It’s a weird mindset to be in because now we’re the veteran Warped Tour band and that’s the tour I looked forward to every year to see Bad Religion and NOFX because they were the veteran bands. It’s pretty surreal.