Rise Against Come to Phoenix with a New Album


If you were to ask enough musicians, most would agree that there are a lot of hurdles to overcome as touring begins again nationwide. For example, being rusty after more than 16 months of absence or booking enough shows to just keep up with demand.

But for members of iconic punk band Rise Against, there are other equally baffling issues.

“This is the first tour we have ever had to close access to the backstage,” said co-founder and bassist Joe Principe. “It’s strange.”

(For the record, Principe says that there are real operational challenges, such as “the strange scarcity of buses after the influx of tour announcements”.)

It might sound like a silly complaint, but it is a testament to the community’s value to Rise Against. This is the very foundation of their 22-year career as famous punk rockers.

“Why we discovered punk rock was to have a scene where we could all relate to [one another], and that helps us through these difficult times, ”said Principe.

So live shows are a natural progression of that idea, and that’s really how the band engages with their fan base in an organic and very intimate way.

“The liberation you get from seeing live music and just for your mental well-being is extremely important,” Principe said. “In the last 18 months or whatever, we haven’t had the luxury of this, this separation of your daily working life with the release of a live concert. So we thought it was very important. to go out because everyone needs it. ” Principe says he’s struggling with the same desire and intends to see the show this fall from Bad Religion, Dropkick Murphys and Rancid.

That’s not to say, however, that the band isn’t as careful and diligent as possible in organizing these gigs. Before Rise Against began their final tour in late July, the band performed a preview – and that’s where they learned that fun and safety aren’t mutually exclusive.

“It was this very old-school punk rock show, because we kind of wanted to under-play just to get started,” Principe said. “There was no barricade and the kids were diving. The kids we spoke to were vaccinated. That doesn’t cover everyone there. But at the same time, you hope people are responsible. and respectful of others. “

As he readily admits, Principe isn’t naive enough to assume that having the right attitude will make all the difference. Instead, he acknowledges that the next few months will be spent forging a new path for musicians and spectators.

“It’s a little frustrating to see the numbers go up, especially in areas where the vaccination rate is not as high,” he says. “All the bands that are on the road right now, we’re trying to figure it out as we go. It’s like a pioneer, if you will.”

Principe adds, “I think in the future, with everything we do, it’s all about safety. It’s about making sure that we don’t do more harm than good. be in our heads. Because we would ‘Don’t do it if we put people in danger.’

He cited an example like Lollapalooza, which drew negative press with its crowds of unmasked attendees through Chicago’s Grant Park.

“I think Lollapalooza was a good testament to the power of music,” Principe said. “A lot of people over there said, ‘Oh, that’s a bad idea.’ But at the same time, these fans needed it. And the vaccination rates at the festival were really high, which is encouraging. ”

Principle understands the concerns, but says this is a more nuanced issue than expected.

“There will always be naysayers – ‘Oh, the immunization cards are forged.’ Maybe a small percentage, ”he says.“ And it’s going to happen no matter what you do. At the same time, let’s focus on the positive here. I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons there. ”

Many of these ideas – community, coming together around positivity and mutual accountability – are at the heart of the band’s recently released ninth album, Generation nowhere. While previous Rise Against records had more focused themes, tackling topics like environmentalism or the evils of capitalism, this LP has a broader narrative agenda.

“We finished this record before the pandemic, but the lyrics are certainly applicable to the pandemic,” Principe said. “It’s a record that, instead of trying to provide a solution, or how we always give a sense of hope on our cases, it’s more like, ‘We don’t need to have all the answers. ‘ But, we can certainly sing in solidarity with how hard it is to get our heads above water these days. ”

He adds, “We don’t want to preach, and we don’t want to give anything force to anybody. I think the lyrical message behind our lyrics, it’ll come the longer you listen to a song – it’s going to resonate and it will flow. We don’t want to overwhelm anyone, and we don’t want people to think about it too much. We just want people to have this version. ”

Principle admits that if a specific message gets across, it is all the more rewarding.

“When you talk to a fan and they say, ‘Oh, thanks for opening my eyes to factory farming. I’m a vegetarian now. Or, I’m a vegan now because of that,’ he says. he. “It fills my heart. It’s nice to know that people are paying attention and listening no matter what. Because at least we’ve reached a person.”

This ultimately reflects the group’s greatest journey over the past two decades. Principe says the quartet all grew up together, even becoming fathers around the same time, and that contextualizes what the group is doing now as true industry veterans.

“It’s interesting raising kids and also being in a band like Rise Against because the point was to challenge authority,” he says. “But now you are the authority – so be careful what you want. ”

A strong self-awareness like that is what keeps Rise Against perpetually fresh, especially as they work so hard to stay true to their punk roots.

“It’s funny, we’re talking about [goals] every time we tackle a new record, ”says Principe. “What is Rise Against supposed to be in 2019 or 2020 or 2021? At the same time, you can’t think about it too much, and then it becomes hypocritical. At this point, we know we’re a punk rock band at heart. We write down what we are feeling in the present moment. ”

That’s not to say they can’t plan for the future, of course. For Principe, that means more “world tours”, even though he’s just arrived in Canada. If and when that happens, you can expect Rise Against to do what they do best: forge a community around the sheer exuberance of live music.

“We were a little stuck in our cages for the last [18 months]”he said.” Now that someone’s opened the door, we’re running around on stage. ”

Rise Against will headlining the “Nowhere Generation” tour (with Descendents and The Menzingers) on Tuesday August 17th at the Arizona Federal Theater, 400 West Washington Street. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $ 35 to $ 275 via Living country.

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