For quite some time now Rise Against have been producing hard hitting music through both the style they play and the themes/topics that are present. Completely transparent in their views on society and events occurring around the world (particularly their home country America), their latest album continues to pay homage to their views. In light of their new album and recently announced Australian tour, we got in touch with lead guitarist Zach Blair to have a chat about Rise Against, the new album and how they’d like to be remembered as a band.
The new album is more aggressive than The Black Market and feels like more of a throwback to the earlier Rise Against sound. In terms of themes/topics present in the album, what was the inspiration?
It’s interesting, I actually thought The Black Market was more aggressive but it’s weird, people’s different takes on things. Other people have said that and then others have said it’s the softest record we’ve made in a long time. It’s cool though! It’s cool hearing other people’s opinions. It felt like a really dark record to me and I loved it, this one was a different record for us for sure.
(As for the themes) Tim writes all the lyrics so it’s hard for me to comment on that but you know, we were working on the record as the election was happening and then still working on it when the unfortunate quote, unquote “decision” was made for us. The depression and disappointment that set in, it was hard for that not to come out in the music. Our idea in the first place was to call the record Mourning in America. Then we turned it on its head and thought well no, this is the time to speak up, to scream, be heard and protest in a sort of disobedience. (The aim was) to do all we can and to do what this band has earned its wings/stripes doing and to be the best version we can be. It’s a strange time to live in that’s for sure.
With that said, when you guys are up on stage and playing, do you see that as a protest itself against the decision that occurred?
Well, in our own way, sure! It’s the only voice we have, so that hour or hour and a half we play we have the attention of however many people have come to see us. That’s really the only time that anyone listens to what we’re saying as individuals, outside of this band no one gives a shit what anyone says. So, when we’re up there we’re given that chance and it’s “What’ve you got? What’re you gonna talk about?” Bands (up) there can say anything they want, we could talk about partying, we could talk about getting fucked up, you can talk about anything you want and our band has always talked about things we do and things that we feel like would be good for other people to investigate themselves. (Right now) there’s no poverty of that, when we had Obama, for us it was this utopia, it was really positive, this real change was happening.
Do you guys receive much backlash for the ideas you support, particularly yourself, being from Texas?
I was born and raised in Texas, I’ve always lived here and I can’t speak for anyone else in the band but my parents were the left wing, liberal, black sheep of the family and I sort of welcome it. Being against the grain, I think it’s important to engage somebody in debate and discussion, that having been said its comfortable to go to Las Angeles, New York City or San Fransisco were there are other likeminded people. I have seen real racism, close-mindedness, bigotry and the really bad side of close minded religion, I’ve grown up with that and it’s the bread and butter around here (Texas). Even though I live in Austin, Texas which is this little liberal area, if you go anywhere else outside of this town you’re going to be faced with it really quickly, so it’s just something to get used to unfortunately. But it is something that you can push back against and I like living in this area because it kinda tests you.
There are so many Rise Against tattoos out there, how do you react to these? Are there any that stand out?
You know, I have a Minor Threat tattoo, so I get it but you know I’m in the band so it’s a bit like,”you sure you wanna do that?” so it’s hard to understand why someone would want to get the bands logo tattooed on them, but it’s definitely flattering! There’s a guy who has a portrait of all four of us on his foreearm, that one stands out! It was flattering and amazing, and also means so much that somebody would want to do that.
You’ve toured Australia quite a few times, having been around are there any Australian bands of similar styles that you listen to?
Well there’s a few bands! Of course, I love The Saints, the old classic punk rock band. Then I love King Parrot and there’s a band called the Clowns, they’re such nice guys we took them on tour with us last time and I couldn’t say enough good things about them. There’s a bunch of great stuff coming out of there (Australia). Oh and Total Control.
Being part of a band, which has achieved quite a lot of success, how do you stay grounded?
Well, our band is big but not huge. You know, the Foo Fighters, they’re huge, U2 is huge, Rise Against is pretty big. There’re certain pockets still were our band is still not big so I think if our band was much bigger than our band currently is it would probably be a little harder, there are areas where its big but when I come home, I don’t get recognised on the street in Austin Texas, nobody cares. We did a Foo Fighter tour in Australia and those guys get chased down the street, that’s huge, you know what I mean (laughs). We’re in this really interesting little area where we’re a big band but we’re not huge, not yet. Maybe we never will be, hopefully we retain this level because you still get to be a normal every day guy.
100 years into the future, when it's passed our time, how would you like Rise Against to be remembered?
Just as a band that was authentic and really trying to do something. I always liked this band even before I joined they never had some image to up hold, some clothing and were never part of a fad, they (Rise Against) were just a punk rock band. It was just a classic rock n roll band trying to say something, the band never talked about partying and having a great time and all that stuff, they were just trying to say something when people were listening and hopefully that’s what it’ll be remember for.
Thanks for the chat, good luck with the new tour!
Hopefully we'll see you there!
All Images Sourced: Rise Against Facebook