In 1999 ex-88 Fingers Louie bassist Joe Principe joined forces with vocalist Tim Mcllrath to form Rise Against, a heavily hard core influenced melodic punk band. Mixing an emotional and passionate sound with members Zach Blair(guitars, backing vocals) and Brandon Barnes(drummer, percussion) the guys are still at it. June 9th marks the release of their newest album “Wolves” their eighth studio record. We had a chance to talk to Joe about the new album, some of the political aspects of the album and what we could expect from Rise Against.
It is a very fragile time in America right now; the country seems spilt on a lot of issues most of them moral at heart. Rise Against has always leaned to the more political side of punk rock something that hasn’t always seemed easy to do but, something they never shied away from. When asked about the election this year and how it affected the record Joe had this to say,
“We started this process of writing the record pre-election and all signs were pointing to Hillary Clinton winning and we thought we were about to have the first female president which would have been a mile stole for the United States. I know Tim(guitars, vocals) had written lyrics to a couple of the songs. Then Trump got elected and it definitely made us shift gears a little bit. That’s not to say we felt obligated to write this ultra political record but at the same time what could have been taken as a little bit lighter hearted in the lyrics, so Tim had to re-think the direction of the idea of the songs. It definitely inspired the title of the record “Wolves”. It certainly shows “We are the Wolves at the Gate.” Tim sings in the title track of the album. It’s a power house anthem, a song to raise your fist to and sing along. The eleven songs on Wolves are deftly written, the record flows beautifully and there’s a very passionate feel behind all the lyrics and in the music itself.
“I absolutely love Wolves, I think that what I’m most proud of is there’s a progression, meaning I feel like we become better song writers as the years go by and you kind of learn what works and doesn’t work,”
The maturity of that writing can be heard and felt, it’s a very tangible thing while it still maintains the sound and feeling that is Rise Against. The song writing is tighter but, still hearkens back to the energy of some of their earlier records.
“At the same time there’s an energy behind this record that I feel was a little bit absent on Black Market (their previous record) I like Black Market but, it kind of lacked the urgency we had at the start of the band, growing up in the punk and hardcore scene. Wolves is very present, the sense of urgency is what I’m the most proud of. To me it’s more of going back to the basics.”
“Wolves” is a fantastic record. You can hear some of the more DC hardcore influences especially in the guitar playing and in the general feel of the album. It’s a record with something to say in a time where we need bands to stand up and offer those ideas, to make us feel like we aren’t alone, that there isn’t anything to feel as long as we all stick together. Rise Against is a band that continually puts forth albums that will make you feel, that will make you want to get involved that will make you want to stand up and sing. We can only hope that they’ll continue to give us records with such unerring passion. Wolves comes out June 9th and the single The Violence is out now. I strongly suggest everyone to give this album a listen, maybe you’ll find something you didn’t even know you were looking for.