"I didn't really have an idea of how I wanted it to move, but I knew it needed to" - Rise Against
Chicago punk rock firebrands Rise Against are back with a brand new album next week titled The Black Market, the seventh in their illustrious career. We spoke to frontman Tim McIlrath to find all about its making, how the band wanted to move on from Endgame and why this is their most personal album for some time.
Your new album is out new week, do you get nervous before your albums come out? Or are you past that now?
"I think this is the first record where I’ve felt past that. I now look at the bigger picture more, I look at the whole spectrum and where this record fits into it. What I care most about is whether I like it."
When was it written?
"We wrote this record over the course of the latter half of 2013. We got together a handful of times around the US in studios in LA, Austin, Colorado and Chicago and put the songs together piece by piece."
How long were you in the studio for?
"We spent about three months tracking this one."
What are you guys like in the studio? Do you work quickly? Or do you do lots and lots of takes?
"It really depends on the song, some of them happen fast and sometimes we labor of each nuance. We put down the skeleton of the song pretty quickly and then we look for ways to put a little meat on its bones."
This is the fourth album in succession you’ve recorded with Bill Stevenson & Jason Livermore, what do they give you as producers?
"Bill and Jason give us one solid foot in the punk rock world but always with one eye on whats next and what else we could do. They bring a punk attitude but they don’t wear blindfolds. We want to pay tribute to our heroes like Black Flag or The Descendents but also create powerful songs that can compete on the airwaves. Bill and Jason are family, and we don’t trust many people with something as important as our sound."
You recorded up in The Blasting Room again, tell us about the studio, what do you guys like about recording there?
"The Blasting Room is an unpretentious, working assembly line or music and ideas. It’s far away from the glitz and glamor of the flavour of the week producers and simply a place to get down to business. It’s in a sleepy Colorado town full of good people and good vibes."
How did you want the album to move on from Endgame?
"I didn’t really have an idea of how I wanted it to move, but I knew it needed to. I wasn’t going to be comfortable with simply writing a sequel to Endgame, so we didn’t. We did something that has its own unique properties."
What kind of album is this lyrically?
"Lyrically this album looks inward, instead of looking outward like we often times do."
Is it a personal album? Or more pointedly political?
"There is still a healthy blend of the two , but some of the driving elements behind the record are far more self-reflective."
You chose ‘I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore’ as the lead-off single, does that sum up the rest of the record quite well?
"I think that song is the closest relative to some of our past songs, and the rest provide some different directions."
Where does the title come from?
"The Black Market is about the the endeavour of creating art like we create, the exchange of emotions like angst and anger and sadness between us and our audience. It’s about the waters you churn to make art, and the darkness that can linger long after you’ve created it."
Tell us about the cover art, where did you get the image from?
"After coming up with the concept, I pictured the cover as you see it now. I wanted it be our logo being worn by someone, but almost not proudly, almost like a mark, or a scarlet letter. I wanted a different cover than anything we’ve done also."
After the album comes out, how much touring do you have lined up?
"Plenty. Lots of festivals this summer, a headlining run in the US, we’re taking Pennywise to Europe and then we have some more fun stuff coming in early 2015 we can’t talk about yet."
You’ve got a big European tour coming up in November, how hard is it to pick your live set lists now?
"It is ! We’re doing that now, and I have no earthly clue how were going to do it."
What records were you listening to during the making of this album?
"I listened to everything from Fear Factory to Lorde on this record. I’m one of those guys who enjoys Jose Gonzalez as much as I enjoy Earth Crisis."
Are there any new bands you’ve discovered recently that we should be on the lookout for?
"I don’t know how new this stuff is but I’m digging Radkey, Balance and Composure, White Lung, and RVIVR. There’s good wave of music coming back around and I’m excited about it."
Rise Against's new album The Black Market will be released on Monday (July 14th) in hmv stores and on hmvdigital.