So, I would like to first off thank you for taking the time to sit down and answer a few questions for us over at absoutepunk.net. It's been a couple years since the last one and this has been long awaited.
“The Sufferer & The Witness” was released this last 4th of July. How has the fan reaction been to the new album?
Really good actually. I don’t remember receiving such an enthusiastic response as overwhelming for any of our other records. Usually, you put out a new record, and then it takes people time for them to get into it, and eventually you can slip in a bunch of new songs into your set without bumming everybody out. But as soon as “Sufferer” came out, people were demanding the new songs and really going nuts when we played them.
We just got back from Europe and I think we really broke some new ground with this new record because not only did all of the shows sell out, but everyone wanted to hear the new stuff. We’re happy to play it because it’s something new and different and challenging and we’re just as stoked as our fans are.
Does the band have a set way of writing music or does it vary from song to song?
It varys, but it’s pretty consistent in it’s variation (if that makes any sense). Sometimes Joe brings in a great bassline and we build on it. Sometimes he brings in a whole song, start to finish and he knows exactly how he wants everything, except the vocals. Sometimes I bring in a song completely written, or maybe it’s just a verse. Sometimes I have lyrics already written and just waiting for the write song, or sometimes the song inspires the lyrics. Maybe one line scrawled in my notebood inspires a whole song. Regardless, we build on each song in our practice space, and Brandon and Chris are key in everything from tempos, transitions, leads and back up vocals.
Did you feel that the band had any certain inspiration or anything that helped the writing of this album?
I think we really wanted to top “Siren Song.” Other than that, we were just having a really good time. Being in a studio with our friends like Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore, it was just a party in there
everyday. We had fun, we fucked around, we’d spend hours on something and then scratch it and start over. I had half the songs already sung and Bill and I decided to scratch them and start over and do them better. Stuff like that you do when you’re comfortable with the people around you. Bill understands us so well too, he knows our strengths and our limitations and what sounds like us at our best, and what sounds like we could do better. He’s amazing.
The artwork of the new album was amazing but simple. Was there any significance behind it?
I’m glad you mentioned it, I really love it. I ran into some artwork by an artist names Andrew Zhibliyi and immediately fell in love with the stuff. I knew we had to work with him. When the time came, I gave him a call and asked if he’d be interested and he was thrilled. I simply gave him the title and a few song, some of the lyrics and the basic idea behind what is we were trying to convey, and he came up with the image. It was perfect. He has amazing stuff up at pieceofshow.com, I encourage ya’ll to check it out.
Given the popularity of "swing life away" do you think some fans are turned off by the new record because they were almost "tricked"?
I think if people only liked “Swing Life Away,” then they figured out by now that that isn’t what we sound like by either buying our last record or coming to a live show. If they bought the new record looking for another “Swing,” tough luck. You won’t get me to apologize for that song though, I love it. I’m proud of it and stoked about how many people were exposed to what we do through that song. I don’t give a fuck whether something is screamed or whispered, I care about the content behind it all.
What was the music scene like when the band was first starting out in Chicago?
Indie rock was pretty much dominating the scene, and perhaps still does, in Chicago. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but too much of only one genre of music anywhere can get make you feel trapped.
If the band had to choose one Rise Against album to be their favorite, which one would it be?
You know, RPM was always my favorite, but “Sufferer…” is really creeping up on my list. I think I need a little more time, but I’m really happy with the way this one came out.
It seems like the new record has 2 main influences, Descendents and Minor Threat, what other influences came in during the making of this?
I was listening to a lot of records in this time. We were certainly drawing from the past a lot when we write, and so does Bill when he produces. We were constantly citing the Germs, Black Flag, the bands
you mention above and stuff like Bad Brains. I was listening to records like The Distillers, Hot Water Music’s “caution”, the latest Thrice, A Wilhelm Scream, Jiimmy Eat World, At The Drive In, and Helmet. I had recently finished a book called “Ishmael” which was still on my mind as I was writing the lyrics to this one.
The band just got off the warped tour not to long ago. What has been your experience with touring on a tour such as Warped Tour?
We have a really good fucking time on that tour. I don’t know if it’s for everyone, but it’s definitely for us. Warped is where all of our friends are, and it manages to create some of the best memories that I think I’ll take from this part of my life.
Tim, everyone wants to know if you are going to be writing anything new for a Killing Tree album?
I’ve got a bank of songs in my head, but I don’t really have any time to do it, and neither do the other guys. Todd’s in LA now, Neil is always touring with the Larry Arms, and Geoff is getting his masters degree when he’s not rocking in Holy Roman Empire. Logistic-wise, what label really wants to put a record out by the laziest band in America? I’m not ruling anything out, but the stars are going to have to seriously align for the four of us to even have lunch together sometime in the near future. We did a new song last year though, and that’s coming out on the new Thick comp. That was fun. In the meantime, Rise Against is, and has always been, my priority.
What made you want to be in a band?
I think it was seeing a band called Sidekick Kato in Chicago.. They were a local band that fizzled out eventually. I loved their live shows and attended them religiously. Bands like Cap’n’Jazz and Los Crudos also really inspired me. Aside from that, I just wanted to write music with my friends. I didn’t care about shows or t-shirts or any of that. We were just kids looking for something to do other than drugs, so we
How did you guys get set up with the tour with Thursday?
Right about the time we were figuring out our touring plans for the fall, we happened to be crossing paths with the Thursday dudes. They were touring and we were recording and mixing. They rolled through Fort Collins while we were there, then they rolled through LA while we were mixing. Then we were done and went home, they rolled through Chicago so we hung out again. At some point we were like “fuck, I love you guys, we should tour together.” We’ve known each other for years. TKT played with Thursday in the basement of a college building in Illinois 6 years ago, and RA and Thursday toured together years ago with Movie Life and Boy Sets Fire as well as Warped. This upcoming tour is just a product and extension of our friendship.
Do you have any tours that you have been a part of that were more memorable then others?
Going out with Sick Of It All in our first European tour was awesome, I’ll always remember that. They taught us what it is to go on stage and give it everything you have no matter what. The work ethic, the loyalty to the fans, and how true they stayed to their roots left a big impact on me.
I had never just sung for a band before Rise Against, I’d always played guitar and sang. It’s a completely different world when it’s just you and a microphone. I’ve really enjoyed being on tour with some of my favorite frontmen, like Lou Koller, Nathan Boysetsfire, Davey Havok, Fat Mike, Greg Graffin, or Jim Lindbergh. You take a lot away from performances like that, and I think that really helped me find my own identity as a singer.
Have any crazy tour stories that you would like to share with us?
We once shared an elevator with INXS Australia. We talked about buttons. I went to visit James Joyce’s grave when I was in Zurich a couple of weeks ago, it’s the coolest tombstone I’ve ever seen. We played a show with Bodycount a few weeks ago and I told Ice T “nice show” and he said “thanks.” That makes us like best friends pretty much. I met Jimmy Page’s daughter in London last week. I spent a good part of my summer in a kiddie-pool with Joan Jett. I saw a dead guy in Nebraska. He was on the run from Chicago after shooting somebody and trying to make it to Cali when the cops pulled him over and when he got out of the car they shot him. I drove by in time to see his dead body lying face up in the middle of the highway. I played handball in a parking garage with a band from the Basque country and they kicked our asses then taught us Basque. We just turned down four shows with Gun’n’Roses yesterday. I once saw Meatloaf singing on the top of a double-decker bus as it drove though downtown London. I have a picture of Evan Dando wearing a Rise Against shirt. I once watched a stillborn calf being born in Lindau, Germany. It was really sad. I swore on live Canadian TV yesterday. Oh well.
What have you guys been listening to lately?
Shadows Fall, Lemonheads, Deftones, Mars Volta, Bedouin Soundclash, Matt Costa, Billy Talent, Heavens, and the new Strike Anywhere.
Who do you think should run for president in the next election?
What kind of relationship do you have with PETA and how do you think organizations like this help with being able to relate to a younger audience?
We simply facilitate any campaign where we feel like we can be of any help. Our shows can be vehicles for a lot of different ideas, and PETA is something we stand behind.
I’m living proof that PETA combined with punk shows can relate to a younger audience. We own decision to be vegetarian came from literature I had picked up from shows. All I want to do now is pass that information to next generation so they, too, are aware of what is going on in the meat / dairy industry.
Are there any big plans for 2007?
We’re putting a DVD out before then end of the year, we’re touring Australia and Canada, we’ll headline the states this spring and we’re doing a new video as well. Japan will be somewhere in there I’m sure too. We’ll basically just be on the road all year, it’s just a matter of where at this point.
Well, that’s about all the questions I have for you guys. Is there anything that you would like to say to the readers and fans out there in absolutepunk.net land?
I’d just like to say thanks to all of the Rise Against fans out there who have been with us all of these years. It’s nice to see that people still like what we do even though we don’t wear make-up and have fancy hair, it gives me hope for the next generation of punk rock. Oh, and have you ever typed the word “failure” into Google? Try it.