Rise Against Biography
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Armed with the fury of classic punk acts as Minor Threat and Bad Brains, blended with intelligent vocals and a serious commitment to providing a positive alternative to the oft-dreary and disenchanted aura that engulfs most punk bands, Chicago’s Rise Against might be seen as an outcast amongst its peers.
“It was almost cool to be negative, especially around Chicago,” bassist Joe Principe recalls. “So, vocalist Tim [McIlrath] and I had this main goal of putting a positive light on things. There are so many bands that sing about negative things, and we kind of wanted to use this to show people it’s OK to voice your opinions and stay positive. We just wanted to be more productive, lyrically.”
“It’s not so much as we’re a political band, but what we feel is our social responsibility,” adds McIlrath. “It’s not just a responsibility as human being on the planet, but towards the punk rock scene. I feel like we’re kind of carrying the torch of punk. So many bands aren’t doing that, shaking their obligations as a punk band. I don’t want to be a band that took for granted the things that Minor Threat and Black Flag did that brought me to where I am today.”
Founded in late 1999 by Principe and McIlrath, Rise Against rose from the ashes of Principe’s former band, 88 Fingers Louie. Sporting blistering, aggressive melodic punk and hardcore traits, Rise Against took the template Principe set in his previous band and expanded it further, through the thought-provoking vocals of McIlrath.
“I wanted to put in some level of energy,” says Principe. “It’s hard to pinpoint what bands like Bad Brains and Minor Threat did. Those guys had something together. They took what they were doing and separated themselves from everyone else. And that’s what I wanted from this band.”
The cohesive sound of Rise Against is actually a seamless melding of two musically independent worlds. “Joe comes from more of an old-school background,” says McIlrath. “He grew up with Bad Brains, Articles Of Faith, SNFU, all the hardcore stuff. And I liked Fugazi, the more melodic, early ‘90s emo like Cap’n Jazz, Braid and Friction. We were wondering how this would all work. I mean, it should’ve been a train wreck.”
Fortunately, there was no derailment in sight for Rise Against. In fact, almost a year after they first met, the act was playing their first show. And after playing musical chairs behind the kit, the band finally found a drummer that exceeded their expectations, Colorado-based Brandon Barnes, formerly of Denver punk outfit Pinhead Circus.
“He had just left his old band and had this demo of himself just playing drums and told me he had a trailer that he rented out in the mountains, and he’d just go there and play drums all the time,” says McIlrath. “The demo was actually sent to Good Riddance, and when they heard that we were looking for a drummer, they passed the tape onto us. He came out to Chicago and played our stuff perfectly.”
After cutting a demo, Rise Against found a home at mega-indie Fat Wreck Chords, a label owned by NOFX bassist Fat Mike. In spring 2001, the foursome soon found themselves in the studio of famed Chicago punk veteran Mass Giorgini (Screeching Weasel, Smoking Popes) who tracked the band’s debut The Unraveling. And then they hit the road.
“All our shows were small and we’d just hop on anything we could hop on, take every opening bill, making not even enough to pay for our gas,” McIlrath recalls. “We were totally roughing it, taking those opening slots five minutes before doors opened.”
After two years of solid touring, Rise Against recorded their sophomore effort in December 2002, the well-received Revolutions Per Minute - recorded by Descendents/ALL/Black Flag drummer Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore.
“We had no idea how much fun it would be and how much of a learning experience it would be for the band,” McIlrath says about working with Stevenssson. “You’re talking about a guy who’d footnote Black Flag and the Descendents when talking to you about things.”
Pumped from the experience, Rise Against quickly put themselves back on familiar turf, touring extensively, including the Warped Tour. Soon enough, the act was appearing on the radar outside of the underground punk community — namely major labels came calling with offers.
“A lot of our friends had signed to major labels, and we’d talked a lot about the labels with them,” McIrath notes. “And everyone who I respected had a real good response about them.”
Taking the advice of their peers — and justifying the move based on the idea of reaching a wider audience — Rise Against amicably left Fat Wreck Chords and signed to DreamWorks in December 2003.
“We met like a dozen labels and DreamWorks was the only one that really made us feel like they were going to do what they said they were going to do,” McIlrath explains. The band also took comfort in the fact that the label had a solid reputation in the punk community, after creating fruitful careers for bands like Jimmy Eat World, Sparta and AFI.
Furthering their message and support was of the utmost importance to Rise Against. “What we do well is play in a band,” says McIlrath. “So if we can take what we do well and lend it to some kind of cause, I’m all for that.” Some of the causes Rise Against support include fighting against racism in punk rock, animal rights, inhumane electro-shock therapy on patients and PunkVoter.com, a Fat Wreck-sponsored campaign to defeat the re-election of President Bush.
Parting ways with their previous guitarist, Rise Against brought in former Reach The Sky guitarist Chris Chasse in March 2004 and almost immediately began recording their DreamWorks debut, Siren Song Of The Counter-Culture, with Gggarth Richardson.
“[Chasse] learned like 20-some songs for the new record, and in the meantime, we’ve been teaching him the other two records,” says Barnes of the crash course. “He’s a great guy and has always been interested in the band, even back when no one gave a fuck about us.”
After Rise Against hits this summer’s Warped Tour, the act hopes to tour South Africa later this year, in an effort to spread the word of the AIDS epidemic and unfair trade laws through their performances. “I’d love to spread awareness to people outside of Africa about what’s going on down there,” McIlrath notes.
The proactive nature of Rise Against is fully entrenched in the band’s philosophy. “It’s just whatever we feel or are capable of,” McIlrath says of the causes the band supports. “We’re like, ‘This is bullshit, let’s do a song, let’s do a benefit comp, let’s do a show, let’s do something for this.’ That’s what we do. We’re all on the same page with this and this band represents what we all believe.”
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Rise against = faith in humanity restored | Reviewer: mynameisnoneofyoubuissiness | 12/6/12
there is not a song i dont like from rise against. They are way different from other bands because they write about events that happen in the world. There philosophy on life is rad and i admire them greatly. My favorite song has to be either injection, the rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated or give it all but all their songs rock. ROCK ON RISE AGAINST!
The one, the only... | Reviewer: Andrew Stout | 10/19/11
Rise Against is the best band i've ever listened to. My friend first introduced me to them when he showed me the song "Swing Life Away". I was hooked to that song and listened to it every chance i had. I now know the song on Acoustic guitar and plan to learn "Help is on the Way" on guitar. I love Rise Against, Forever Rock!!!
Best band in the world !!! | Reviewer: Rossi | 9/19/11
Everything to do with this band is magic. The music, the lyrics, the vocals... I love every album in it's own way. And Tim... What can we say about him ???!!! Nothing more than he is a what every human being should be like. I have mu own band basée in France "Cosmic Chain" and I'm lead singer/bassist and we are exactly like Rise Against. We all love them, we all try to givre messages with every song and evertime I listen to RA (everyday) I think to myself "these guys are gods coz' from the start to now they haven't changed
RISE AGAINST | Reviewer: Mau5 | 7/6/11
My, my, my....never have I heard a band that can give people a sense of empowerment just from their name. My friend showed me "The Strength to Go On" back in October. I loved it and I was completely hooked after "Swing Life Away". These guys are now my all-time favorite band, and have completely changed the not just the way I think, but how I live my life. I could go on for pages about how, thanks to them, I have revived my passion for music and my voice is louder when it comes to speaking up about things that I believe in and are truly passionate about. I really don't think I can say enough. "Make It Stop" and it's video completely reduced me to tears, and there aren't many songs that can do that. I admire Tim's lyrical genius and the way he can, even without the best voice in the world, go up on stage, project an incredibly energy and sing to thousands of people about things he's so very passionate about. Watch a live version of any of their songs and you can clearly see how much he loves what he's doing. In other words, I LOVE RISE AGAINST! ROCK ON PEOPLE!
wow | Reviewer: JJ (John) (Jade) R Clark | 4/11/11
music is my life, i reveiw bands like this all the time. the band "Rise Against" is diffrent from other bands that sing about things that are happing around the world, they make ppl want to actully help, i always want to help wen i hear the songs "Prayer of the Refugee", "Hero of war" and "Give it all". i personly take my own singing lessons, one day i ask her if i could preform a song that no one knew, she said yes, so i jumped out o the mic and sung "Prayer of the Refugee" she and the other 4 kids in the class said i was pretty good. 1 of them said "Jade ur pretty good, but u could use a lil more lessons", but my teacher was rly amazed ( side note: he is like the singer of Rise Against) he asked me if i knew anymore songs, and of course i said yes and he asked me to do 1 more and i sung "Hero of War", but wat i am saying is that thoes songs gave me the courge to stand up and sing them, so i owe ALL my GRATITUDE to the band "RISE AGAINST" so thank you
Virgin Rise against listener | Reviewer: VIrgin listener | 12/19/10
I've not been listening to them for long, 1, 2 weeks at tops. Any way the lyrics for hero of war speaks almost directly to me. This female non combatant had a real friendly attitude but one of owe k9s kept barking at her. Three seconds after I noticed it was a bomb sniffer I turned and saw Ssgt Blane try to see if she was armed when, boom, nothing but pink mist and bits of flesh and clothing was all that was left.
Rise Against are my life <3 | Reviewer: Chloe Phillipsq | 6/8/10
I once saw Rise Against in concert man they were so awesome. I'd gladly see them again anyday. They are hell sick :D Hero Of War and Swing Life Away make me sad when I listen to them :( I'm glad though because that proves that Rise Against are getting their messages across to people. I just hope it's other people too and not just me. When I'm old enough I'm getting a tattoo of Swing Life Away. :)
All you Rise Against fan's I'd love to hear from you add me on facebook and msn firstname.lastname@example.org look that up on facebook and it'll go straight to my page and add me on msn I'd love to hear from you all! Rise Against keep up the good work!
I love this | Reviewer: Mioku | 5/7/10
i love watching people argue over this. People call them emo, not emo, whatever your argument may be. But the fact is they are themselves...They even sing about this very thing.
"You wanna take the passion in my veins
And put it down in black & white"
(1000 Good Intentions)
Don't think of it as emo, think of it as a new style...Unique
love love love | Reviewer: Martina | 4/28/10
I absolutely love the,. Always been my favorite band since I first heard them, they will always be! Love their music and lovelovelove that their lyrics have meaning and positive attitudes. COME TO NY PLEASEEE!!!!
great band | Reviewer: deysy | 4/9/10
this band is pretty sick, i remeber listening to them for the first time on the rock countdown (back when it was good) and i feel in love with their message about the government and how to not entirly go againts it but stand up for your own rights and for those that can not stand up for their own.
This band just keeps impressing me time after time.
Amazing and Meaningful | Reviewer: Zero-X-3 | 4/1/10
Their songs fill a lot of people with hope and tranquility. Especially Tim's vocals he expresses himself freely and all of his songs have a lot of meaning. I hope Rise Against will continue to make such wonderful music and shares it with the world. Keep On Rocking.
amazing | Reviewer: navyrecruit | 12/7/09
i love this song its by far my favorite along with paper wings wehn i turn 18 and i join the navy im going to tell everyone there about you guys starp them down and make them love you there is no chance they wont
To the person before me; [11/7.08] | Reviewer: Alex | 11/30/09
Rise Against is a great, poetic/political band and the Offspring is great too. I'm glad that you see that their songs have meaning and that you actually understand, but not all rap is horrible. There are rap artists that do care about society. Such as Kottonmouth Kings, they have a purpose in their music career and are trying to send a message that marijuana should be legalized. Unlike bigger artists such as 50 cent [or whoever] who just rap about whatever they can come up with which the majority of his songs are about sex and drugs I assume. On the other hand, you just may not be a fan of ANY rap what so ever because you don't like the sound of it. I could understand why you'd be hating on rap then. Just saying that Rise Against is not the only great band out there with great lyrics! :]
Uhm, best band ever. | Reviewer: Amanda | 11/16/09
Well I must say that, in my opinion, Rise Against is the best band out there :D I think it's because of how unique they are among the other punk rock groups.. and Tim McIlrath's voice is just so angsty and unique :D But the whole band, just amazing. Their music is all I ever listen to anymore. (:
amazing | Reviewer: Anonymous | 10/13/09
Rise against is easily the best band around i only heard of them last year and have every single one of their songs and there isnt one that i dont love. my favorite song is swing life away and give it all. please dont ever stop writing you guys have changed the lives of so many people me being one of them, and i thank you.
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