Rise Against

author PP date 30/03/11

Though Rise Against have just released their sixth album "Endgame" after being in a band for more than a decade, tonight is only the second time they have made their way to Denmark. Just like last time, an opportunity to do an interview with the band appeared, and considering there are a thousand questions you can ask from Rise Against about their records, their political views, their punk rock background and so forth, yours truly made his way early in the afternoon to meet with Brandon, the long-time drummer of Rise Against, for just about fifteen minute's worth of an interview session. We touched on topics like their recent live broadcast show, the Wisconsin protests, their new album "Endgame", the band's political views and much more.

RF.net: How's the tour going?
Brandon: It's good. Kind of a short tour for us, only twelve shows, but I think we've sold out every show. Kids were awesome, and we've been playing a few new songs from the new record. The kids seem to really be into 'em, and they seem to be embracing themselves. So yeah, it's been a great tour.

RF.net: How many songs are you going to play from the new record tonight?

Brandon: We're gonna do two. The record just came out, and I think that over the next few weeks, we're gonna add more and more. But we started this tour before the new record came out, so we kind of wanted to...not just play all these new songs and have people scratch their heads and wonder what we are doing. But we will continue to play more and more new ones.

RF.net: Alright, so "Endgame" is the sixth studio album from you guys so far. What do you think about the record overall?
Brandon: It's one of my favorites. It's a little heavier than the last record. We went about this record a little differently. We actually wrote a lot of this record in the studio. Normally we write way more songs than we need for the record, and then we get to the studio and we hash them out and figure out which ones are gonna work, which ones aren't. This time around we spent a lot of time in the studio going over parts and re-writing parts. It was a different approach but I think it paid off. I really like the new record, and I think that the lyrics are really heavy, but necessary. I think they touch on topics that are important, things that people should be thinking about right now.

RF.net: Like you said it is a heavier album and has a rougher feel compared to "Appeal To Reason", for example. Was it a conscious decision to go more towards the older sound and tone down the pop elements in favour of a more 'punk rock' sound?
Brandon: I don't think it was that conscious. Basically what we do is we just lock ourselves in a room and kind of write, and whatever happens, happens. I don't think we were like 'lets make this record heavier', you know? It just kind of came out that way. I think maybe that has a little bit to do with the lyrics and the things the record talks about. Maybe that steered the music into a heavier direction.

RF.net: Yeah, I read that the lyrical theme of the record is supposed to be about the end of human kind as we know it. Can you elaborate a little bit on that?
Brandon: It's not a concept record. It's just that each song touches on environmental or political or financial things that are happening in the US, and around the world. I think the US is in a bad place, and I think every country is feeling a little bit of this that we're headed in the wrong direction. I think the idea behind the record is to say maybe that's not such a bad thing. Because if we head in this direction for a lot longer, we're gonna have to change the way we live, we're gonna have to change the way we get fuel. We're gonna have to change the way the banks deal with our money. We're gonna have to change the way we treat the environment. And maybe that's a good thing, you know what I mean? Yeah, the term "Endgame" is kind of like doomsday, but I think you can look at it in different ways. You can look at it as maybe a positive thing, because in the end, maybe we're gonna have to change some of the things that we do, and some of the ways we live, and that'll probably be a good thing, and we'll probably be happier.

RF.net: There's a sample on "Survivor Guilt" in the beginning of the track which quotes "All great nations will eventually be destroyed"...
Brandon: That's from a movie [Ed note: Catch-22]. But yeah, that quote, I think that it is true. If you look at history, every nation that has gotten to that point eventually fails. I think there are reasons for that. I think when a nation gets too much power, that power is abused. That can only go on for so long before the world and everyone else says "right! this is bullshit". So, we'll see.

RF.net: What would you respond to any critics who are saying that Rise Against is moving away from being a punk rock band on each album?
Brandon: I mean, the term punk rock is like....how many different kinds of music and bands are punk rock, you know? I think of punk rock more of as ethics than the sound. I mean obviously there is a sound of punk rock, but I think we're as punk as ever, you know? We still talk about stuff that people don't wanna talk about. We still stick to our guns, and I think we still play punk music, so I don't know.

RF.net: I noticed that you guys broadcasted a live concert on the internet earlier this week from London. How come you decided to do that, and how was it any different from playing a regular show on the tour?
Brandon: We got twelve thousand people to watch that on the internet, which we thought was pretty cool. We put up a smaller show for us in London at the Electric Ballroom, so it would be a little more intimate, and yeah, we recorded it and just broadcasted it live all over the world. It was neat, it was cool to play because we don't really do stuff like that, so it was sort of an experiment for us, and it came out really good. The live feeds worked everywhere, kids saw it in real-time and everything was synced out, and it was a success, completely. I think that's something we'll probably do again because it went so well.

RF.net: You said you recorded it. Are there plans to release it on a DVD in the future?

Brandon: You know, we recorded it, we have all of that on a hard drive somewhere. In a vault in Utah...no, I'm kidding. Our tour manager has it on his computer right now. We just need to watch it and figure it out. That footage is ours, I don't know what we're gonna do with it. One day we may use some of it. I don't know, we just don't know yet.

RF.net: You said earlier that all the shows on this tour have been sold out, but I noted that there are still tickets at the door for tonight. In 2009 when you played here, it sold out over a month in advance. What do you think is the difference? How come the attendance has gone down compared to 2009, in Denmark, at least?
Brandon: To be honest, I don't know. It may have to do with what band we brought with us. That happens sometimes.

RF.net: Yeah, Coliseum is a lot harder.

Brandon: Well, last time we had Poison The Well, and Thursday, so we had two more bands that both had a pretty good draw. But I don't know. Every city is different. Sometimes you sell something out months in advance, sometimes you don't. Sometimes there's a lot of walk-out. I don't know what the reason is.

RF.net: Here's a fan question submitted to us by our readers: the Wisconsin protests in the States have also been a frequent sight in the Danish media. I noticed that Tim participated in the musical part of that with some other musicians. What are your views on the whole thing?
Brandon: In Wisconsin, they're basically trying to take the rights away from the every day worker. They're trying to figure out financial crisis in that state, and Wisconsin doesn't have any money like a lot of states in the US right now. So they're looking for money, and they're trying desperately to figure out ways to get more money. One of those ways was that they were trying to get rid of some of the bargaining that unions can do for workers. That's just scary. Some of the stuff the unions do, that's the last stronghold for workers. That's their protection against major corporate America. If you take that protection away, you got a guy that lives in a middle class neighborhood with zero cash and zero power basically battling a major American corporation for his rights and for his wages and for his right to have his weekends off, I mean anything. So yeah, I think it's just another sad step in America. Our politicians are desperately trying to cut budgets, trying to find ways to get more money, and they're going about it the completely wrong way. They're screwing this every day worker. That's what that was about. Tim was in Chicago, just like an hour and a half away, so he drove up there and played for a little while, just to show up and demonstrate that they care, you know?

RF.net: Another fan question here: were you guys listening to Against Me! when you came up the lyrics to "Architects" because the lyrics are basically like from "I Was A Teenage Anarchist"?
Brandon: Yeah, I mean it's sort of an answer to that. The way I think a lot of people took that Against Me! song was that he was saying "oh when you're young, you're worried about all this kind of stuff politically and socially, that maybe when you grow up and you mature, you don't care about anymore" you know what I mean? That song kind of has that feel to it. And that was sort of insulting to people who still are trying to make a difference and still try...you know, we're still in the fight. We still think we can help, and change, and bring awareness.

RF.net: So is it basically like a stab at the band?

Brandon: It's just an answer to them. It's not a stab, we're friends with them. We've toured all over the place with Against Me!.

RF.net: What do they think about that though?

Brandon: I don't know, I haven't talked to them. But they're our friends, they're nice guys, that's just sort of like an answer to that song [laughs]

RF.net: What are your overall political views, or Rise Against's political views in general? Can you sum up for what you stand for in America, for example, what would you say?
Brandon: You know I think, and this is gonna sound totally cliché, but in America the power is taken from every day people more and more, all the time. We don't have universal healthcare, and what are the reasons behind that? You know? Political. Financial. It's like we don't have a lot of these things that European countries have because America is such a huge...I mean I love America, I love my country, I think we do good things too, so I don't mean to bash America by any means, but I think that the power is being taken from the people, and it all seems like it's too corporate. But as far as our politics, I think we cover animal rights, human rights, we try to get involved in anything we can. When we're on tour, we try to do homeless shelters, we try to do animal rights stuff, we try to build houses for the homeless, we try to do stuff we can. But I guess I don't know, how do you sum up your overall political views? There are so many different facets to that, so it's hard to sum up.

RF.net: What's in store for the future for Rise Against?
Brandon: Touring. As long as we're enjoying it, we're having fun, we're playing to good crowds that care, I think we'll keep going. Ten years ago none of us thought we would last ten years, so the fact that we're still here, I think we're just still having fun, we're still writing music we like, we're still doing things that we feel are helping communities and stuff. So as long as we can keep doing that and enjoy it, then I think we'll be here for who knows how long.

RF.net: So basically we can still expect more records from you guys in the future.

Brandon: Oh yeah.

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