Interview with Rise Against: Still Going Against The Grain

Do the younger bands ever tell you your band has influenced them?

All the time. I got it the most waiting in the catering line at Warped Tour. You catch someone staring at you and think, ‘Why is this dude staring at me?’ It turns out they were a huge fan and kind of in awe. That was surprising. I guess I didn’t expect younger bands to appreciate what we do. A lot of them have a different sound. We keep it more traditional punk rock, like bands like Bad Religion did. It’s definitely taken a turn away from that in current bands these days so it’s cool to see them appreciate what we do.

That’s such a nice way to say it— ‘a different sound.’

Well it’s true. They really do. I’m finding bands few and far between that pay homage to the first and second generation punk bands. That was such a big deal to me growing up. Something about that sound, you really got a sense that they were doing it for themselves, and I loved that. I loved the individualism of it.

It seems like that’s kind of being lost. Another thing you see, like on Warped Tour, is that one fashion thing is popular now and everyone is doing it. Where’s the individualism? Where’s the individuality? I miss that. That’s why I got into punk rock, to be different, and a lot of the young kids aren’t grasping that. Maybe I sound old and jaded, but really that’s the point of punk rock, to go against the grain. I just think that translation’s been lost over the last decade.

Do you think you guys still go against the grain?

I think so. Especially with our ethics. Musically, our influences are shown on our sleeve. Some of those songs are radio-friendly, but the core and roots of our band is from groups like Bad Religion and Bad Brains and Dead Kennedys. It’s not apparent in every song but those roots are intact for sure. It’s tough because as the band grows there’s a lot more people calling us out. The core punk rock community doesn’t want to see their favorite band grow out of that scene but it’s not that we’ve grown out of it, it’s that our fanbase has grown so we have to play venues that accommodate that. It’s a fine line. I was like that growing up too when Bad Religion signed to a major label. You think you’re losing your band but it’s not the case. You’re changing with the times as you grow.

Do you feel like you guys have been able to stay true to your ideals even though you’re on a major label and play big venues?

Definitely. There’s a lot of things we end up saying no to because they are thing we don’t really believe in, whether the label wants to do something or a radio station. I think we pick and choose our battles with that. If it doesn’t gel with our ethics we turn it down. I think it’s harder for bands to do that these days. Labels don’t want bands that go against what they want the band to do. Somehow we’ve just gotten lucky and our label really understands what we’re about and they don’t mess with it too much. Then it wouldn’t be Rise Against. It wouldn’t be sincere. It would be bullshit. The stuff we did when we were on Fat Wreck Chords is what we do now. I’m really grateful that we’re in that situation.

Catch Rise Against at the Roseland Ballroom in NYC on Oct. 13 and 14, and at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, PA, on Oct. 16 and 17. For more info, visit