Chi-town punk legends Rise Against are set to release their new album The Black Market today (15th July). A long awaited follow up to their 2011 hit The Endgame, IX Daily took some time out to have a quick chat to frontman Tim McIlrath about the inspiration behind the new album, being OG’s in the music game and their upcoming tour with other punk legends Pennywise.
(1) Rise Against
IX Daily: I’ve always wondered, now that you guys are OG’s in the business, what’s it like maintaining your own thing but also allowing to be influenced by new people or influencing others, still, even though you may have not revisited that song for quite some time?
Tim McIlrath: It’s a really interesting phenomenon especially because you sell your records and create your own songs and they have moments where you kind of sometimes assume that they are just that – a moment – where the song could be popular that year or for a few months and then people move on. So when you see someone like a young fan discovering or getting into a song that you wrote 6 years ago, when probably that fan was only like 8 years old, you realize that ‘wow’ something we created so long ago is now making an impact on this person, it’s kind of an eye opener. Those songs things weren’t just things that just happened and disappeared, they are things that live on – they can still be meaningful to people.
IX: For sure. Yeah, that’s a lot of responsibility as a musician don’t you think? I know Rise Against are very politically geared but you’ve also mentioned that while it’s a political band it’s also a very personal band, and that your upcoming album The Black Market was a very introspective album. Could you elaborate a little more on what you meant?
TM: Before we did this record we took a lot of time off, almost about a year off, which is the longest amount of time we’ve taken off ever since we’ve been in the band – which is like almost 15 years now. It provides a lot of perspective and distance. Personally it was a good time to get away from it all musically; and professionally also it was a good time to take a step back from the band and try to look at it in a different way. And to make sure when we got back into the studio, it was because we wanted to be back, not because we had to go back. All that played a role in the music, but also it was about being able to look at Rise Against and think about who we are and what we do – and the idea that we’re grown men writing about songs about anger, sadness, angst and emotion – from a distance it seems like a dark thing to do, to traffic you know; all these emotions and then play songs, and sell tickets. And that’s kind of where the “Black Market” came from – It was just like a marketplace for darkness. It was something I needed to process through all the songs. I dealt with that in the way I deal with a lot of things, which is to write a song about it and it turned into this theme we were exploring a lot in the record. So it was nice to come out on the other side and realise that these songs exists because we connect to people and that there’s a silver lining, a lot of hope and a lot of positivity in each song. And that goes back to the responsibility that you were talking about.
IX: Wow. Well I hadn’t really heard much about the album so when I heard the title I immediately thought about technology and Silk Road and how that’s known as the “The Black Market”. How do you feel about social media and technology? Do you feel that punk rock can still be a vehicle to call for change or has it become, I wouldn’t say irrelevant, but does it just sit amidst the whole Twitter shit?
TM: (Laughs) Yeah, right. I think that we maintain a comfortable distance from it all, without ignoring it and without ignoring the role it plays in our lives and our fans lives. We started before any of that MySpace or Friendster existed and it all kind of happened and now this is the way people communicate and get information. At the same time it seems kind of silly the way it can be abused. We’re not a band that would tweet about what we had for breakfast. There’s something about that that I feel takes away what a band should be. I think there should be a layer of mystery to it; there should be choice of information out there. I want people to know our songs but I also don’t feel that any of us are after being a celebrity. We don’t feel the need to over share. We use it pretty functionally, and it stops there.
(2) Tim McIlrath doing his thang
IX: I also wanted to talk about the art direction for the teaser for the single and album. I just wanted to know if you guys had much input in that and if so, what was the big concept around it?
TM: Oh yeah we have total control over all that. I kind of wanted to tie it (the art direction) to the black market – people kind of like marked do you know what I mean? A lot of the teasers were just footage of us goofing around the studio and just writing songs – kinda taking you into more about the process a little bit. The lyric video is extra footage just laying around. We’re pretty hands on and we pretty much steer the ship, so to say.
IX: You guys will be touring with Pennywise in North America and Europe later on this year. What can fans expect?
TM: People can expect a Rise Against show, you know, which is a really really physically endeavor – the way we’ve always done it. We create an environment to create a positive place to come and have fun and still be able to get stuff out of your system
IX: Are you listening to anything at the moment? Are you listening to anything in particular? I‘d imagine being on tour would mean a lot of down time?
TM: I listen to all kinds of stuff. I listen to everything. Everything from like metal to Lorde, I love everything you know. There are a lot of good records coming out nowadays but I think as a band we’ve always listened to everything, whether it be hip hop or metal or pop or funk. We don’t have any rules.
(3) The Black Market is Rise Against’s 7th studio album release.
Check out the first single off the album, I Don’t Want to Be Here Anymore