Rise Against are a band whose live show precedes their prolific talent displayed on their records, having recently played "Give It a Name 05", and undertaking a headlining tour with "Alexisonfire" they certainly inject their own passion fuelled punk in to the hearts and minds of many across Britain. They recently moved from Fat Mike of NOFX's label Fat Wreck onto Dreamworks, then on to Geffen after much deliberation for the release of their latest, and most political album to date "Siren Song Of The Counter Culture". Heavily involved with the Punk Voter campaign before Bush Jr. was re-elected in November Rise Against proved, along with many others that they don't just sing about their standpoint on political issues, they do the work to get involved along with providing passionate and energetic music their tours taking them across America on the Warped Tour, jaunts with Bad Religion, Sick Of it All and beyond. Before their much awaited performance at "Give It a Name 05", I sat down with Bassist Joe and Drummer Brandon to discuss issues from music to Myspace to politics to Paris Hilton and more.

Rise Against's most recent album contains a stunning acoustic song called 'Swing Life Away', due to be their next single, it was in fact a song that was not even going to be featured on the record comments Brandon "We wrote this song for punk goes acoustic, which is this compilation that comes out, and there was a really good reaction to it, so that's why it ended it up on the actual record. Tim wrote it and a lot of people are really into it, I get emails from kids all the time saying about how people use it for their wedding songs and people who appreciate the lyrics a lot more. It's had a huge impact". This being a rather different direction for the band, though affirming they are very proud of the success the song has had, they do not think they'd ever record an acoustic or concept record despite naming recent producer of Green Day's 'American Idiot' Rob Cavallo the producer they'd most like to work with in the future. When questioned on when they would begin writing for the next record I was informed they are "jamming all the time" and have five weeks off after this tour to do so. In regards to constantly being on foreign soil armed with not much but their music, I asked what they do in their downtime in un-explored countries, Joe said "We get weird, we try to sight see. Yesterday we went to Deconstruction and some of us went to see Only Crime and the Mad Caddies and just hung out".

This tour in England is being supported by Canadians Alexisonfire, a band with whom Rise Against have been on tour with since February. Canada is producing a hotbed of talent right now and is a place Rise Against recently finished playing. Brandon says "Yeah there are a lot of Canadian bands that are underrated, you know like the Barenaked ladies haha! But you know... there's Propaghandi and Alexisonfire. We've been on tour with them since February, they're our new friends, and our tour pass says Rise Against loves Alexisonfire. It's the 'best friends' tour". "We love playing Canada, the kids are unbelievable" adds Joe "Canada's always been good to us, and the shows there are always good." Alexisonfire, who put on an equally superb show at Islington Academy, are one of the many bands that Rise Against would love to collaborate with. "There are a lot of people I'd like to collaborate with, just I can't think of any right now! We always come up for ideas who we'd like to collaborate with, like for five minutes, but they kind of just go away. Us and Alexisonfire joked around about doing a split or covers/collaborations but that was probably just talk. They're doing one with Moneen, "Moneenonfire". It should be good, it sounds pretty cool" says Joe.

When pressed on their musical tastes and favourites, Bad Religion came out on top with both Brandon and Joe citing their most memorable moment of the last few years their recent tour with the punk legends. Brandon said "Most memorable, the moment that was a full reality check, was probably a few months ago when we did the Bad Religion tour. Every night there'd be a point where I'd be standing on the side of the stage freaking out going holy shit. I'd picture myself, driving around listening to 'Generator' in my little truck in high school and be like, how in the hell am I on tour with Bad Religion right now?". Joe also gave a nod in their direction saying that they were "probably the biggest influence on my song writing", later adding that a Bad Religion record is among one of his most revered albums, "Boy George, no, I'd have to say Bad Religion 'No Control', Bad Brains 'Rock For Life', or the best of the Go Go's" in response to the question which records define you. Brandon citied his "All time favourite CD Hot Water Music 'Forever and Counting'".

Recently the British music press have dubbed this Chicago birthed band the next Bad Religion, something that was taken as a huge compliment by both band members, Joe exclaimed "That's crazy, that's not true...that's a really tall order to fill. They're so great, there's no way...in a way they invented what we do." Brandon added "Jay Bentley actually invented the bass guitar, he whittled it out of a tree" to which Joe added "In the backwoods of Vancouver!" completing this barrage of praise for the punk heroes Brandon finished by adding "with rubber bands!" In response to the question 'Who are your favourite bands to see play live?' Joe once again stressed "Bad Religion, or Bad Brains when they were in their hey day were amazing" Brandon responded "Poisonous Poison....Alexisonfire, really my favourite bands to see play live were the bands I listened to in high school, like Face to Face and Pennywise, I thought it was the coolest thing. My Favourite...Sick of it all are amazing. I would've loved to see Bad Brains and the Clash, but I never got to see that happen, the Decendents too, because I'm a drummer and would've loved to see them". Claiming the bands they'd most like to see play Brandon and Joe both said Slayer, Joe also adding Public Enemy to the list. Influences from all these bands are very evident in Rise Against's music in some sense or another, the quality their music exudes makes them unlike any other bands around right now, when I asked the band who they could liken themselves to, the question proved difficult, Brandon answering "We have a lot of hardcore songs and a lot more melodic songs, I think that there are probably a bunch of bands that we could try to liken ourselves to but it'd be hard to liken ourselves to just one band." There are also one or two artists who you may or may not expect Joe and Brandon listen to, their unexpected albums of choice are Gwen Stefani's solo record for Joe (which he states "He may or may not like...") and for Brandon a country artist called Meryl Haggard.

Another crucial aspect to a record for Rise Against is the art work Joe explains "Artwork has a lot to do with the record, it's the first thing people see, the imagery is of a band and the record, I mean the wrong imagery could ruin a record. I mean if there was a pink elephant on our record it probably wouldn't have been so good!"

Rise Against are also revered for their cover of song 'Any Way You Want', which appeared on their previous album. They also cover 'Nervous Breakdown' by Black Flag in the upcoming film "Lords of Dogtown", it so happened the first cover was recorded spontaneously "As far as songs we've covered, they've sort of randomly come, they're not really premeditated" says Brandon, Joe adds "That was just us driving to the recording studio and Tim had the best of in his CD collection, and we were like hey lets do this! You want to? Sure, why not!" In the case of the Black Flag cover, there is already the predictable criticism rolling in, Joe says "We're already getting heat from the Black Flag fans" Brandon adds "The kids are like, you don't sound like Keith Morris (to Tim)!"Joe jokes "I mean Tim's Henry Rollins, he's not Keith Morris, that's the point of a cover, you know? There's something there about the guitar tone, but Bill Stevenson recorded it. It is Black Flag, but you're always gonna get flack for anything you do." Lords of Dogtown being a big film is a big deal to be a part of, I asked the band how they became involved with the project Joe tells "Actually it came through our record label, they're putting out the soundtrack and we got lucky. I think we would do it again, because skateboarding has always been a part of my background and Black Flag is obviously a huge part of the band. It was an honour to do it." Why Black Flag? "We kind of had to do Black Flag as we were portraying a different band, so we had to play a song from the late 70s". So what I wanted to know, and I'm sure you did too was whether they'd be jetting off to Hollywood to rub shoulders with the ever perma tanned peroxide elite at the premiere, Joe says "I'd imagine the premiere would be this month actually. I would imagine we couldn't even go to the premiere if we wanted to (as we're on tour)! I would love to, but we need to find a date for our stage tech Wildcard. I was hoping to introduce him to one of the starlets of the movie! But it didn't quite work out!"

Plans for Rise Against's future include "touring until November...we'll probably record the new record early next year and it's coming out right before summer supposedly " says Brandon adding that Rise Against will probably play Warped Tour again next summer. The distinction between shows like those and ones in small venues have both their pros and cons according to Joe "I like the interaction and intimacy of small shows, but like when we played Toronto on the Warped tour, to have that many people sing along was also a pretty cool feeling too. Definitely pros and cons". Having seen Rise Against play in both cases, the songs that they perform gather a different energy and get the crowd going differently every time, venue and set length definitely having a bearing on the effect of the shows overall feeling.

Rise Against being an openly political and socially aware band have sometimes been called "too abrasive" among other things, when I asked them about this Joe remarked "Pussies", some people believe music is just that music and that it shouldn't make you think, a band such as Rise Against that do intentionally or not, make you think, on their opinions of these comments Joe said "some people don't want to think and that's their prerogative. For people who say it's just music, I think everyone's different and you should listen and do whatever you like. You don't have to like us; the fact is we are political. We're a band that play just for the music; you might as well be individual." There is a fine line between educating and informing and preaching in your music- one that Rise Against watch carefully, but they believe everything is open for discussion in music Joe says " I think it can all be discussed... if it's done tactfully, you don't want to shove your opinions down peoples throats" Brandon reinforces this." Joe remarks "As long as you're tactful and don't talk about stuff like beating your wife...I guess there is a line...you can't talk about anything just because we're musicians, obviously there is a line. I mean, there are bands that are like white power and bands who sing about smoking crack, when I was in high school I had a 7" by a band who had a song about smoking crack and my mum walked in and was like what's this?! Our record next record may be about that, but I can't guarantee that". Despite the fact they address serious subject matter in their songs Rise Against are very normal guys, Joe even has Myspace "I do have Myspace, it's just a way for me to keep in touch with friends, and it's not really for everyone. I just use it for my close friends; I don't use my own picture or anything like that." There was even a fake Rise Against Myspace account Brandon tells "Their was a fake Rise Against Myspace that was kinda weird, the kid said he was crippled or something. It's weird to think that people could go on Myspace and impersonate one of us. I don't have a Myspace account but I know what it is, I know about it. How do I feel about it? It's fine; it's a way for kids to network over the internet. Do I think it's creepy? I get kids who email me going you've been invited to join this group on my Myspace account... And I'm like wow, that's creepy, but I don't have an account, so I don't know all that much about it."

Rise Against have a very special relationship with their fans, all of their email addresses are on their website and as soon as they made their much debated choice of moving to a major label Tim posted the reasoning on the bands website, this is a bond that is very important to the band. "We like that connection that we have. We try very hard to maintain the connection intact, our personal emails are all on the site if kids wanted us, they can write to us". However not all listeners are so understanding Brandon admits to going on punknews.com "just for my own entertainment, just to see what little kids at like four in the morning have to say about us personally", the band all try to explain to everyone who has accused them of the overly misused and unjustified claims that they "sold out". Brandon explains" Kids email me personally about it, I try to talk them through it. They ask me why we moved labels; I try to brief them on how it really works. I don't think a lot of kids realise how record labels really work, that all these little indie punk labels they think are so indie aren't, everyone has to use distro. They're all part of a major company, you need them to get your CD's in stores. I don't think kids realise that these little labels aren't driving around the country in minivans dropping off CD's at different record stores, it's not how it works, and I do get responses. Kids do usually write back and say oh man I'm sorry I didn't realise etc". Upon the issue of "selling out" I asked the guys if they could name anyone they thought who'd sold out "I'm not really buying the whole sell out thing, bands that use the whole punk rock image to get big I guess. There are a lot of bands like that, but I'm not going to name drop or bash bands." Says Brandon, then Joe makes the startlingly true point "Neil Diamond sold out!" we all agreed. However there will always be kids who ask questions like "Why do you suck corporate dick?" to which Brandon responds "Yeah, Fuck yeah" and to which Joe responds "I enjoy sucking dick in general", they say to those who call them sell outs "There's a thing called bills, if you pay my rent we'll figure it out. Kids go to college to make a living at some point, we need to eat to. But some of these kids have no idea how hard it is to get in a van with a guitar and be in a band and drive around and tour".

Rise Against have all have personal beliefs they try to make evident in their music such as in the aforementioned politics, they are also all vegetarians Joe became vegetarian "five years ago, just from reading various literature and finding stuff at merchandising tables. One day I had a box of chicken tenders from burger king and I opened it up and said, I can't do this anymore and that was it." Brandon's story is a little different "I worked as a butcher in a grocery store, which was disgusting, but it was the only job I could find at the time and I started hanging out with Tim (singer of Rise Against) and I joined the band. Tim started telling me all these facts about the meat industry, so I went and did a little research of my own, and my wife is also vegetarian and also kept telling me about how disgusting (eating meat) was." If they were ever to sit down to talk with George Bush, there are many things they'd like to say to him, including asking "why he can't speak full sentences without misusing words" and most poignantly, "how he feels about blowing innocent kids arms and legs off in Iraq". The band being American themselves must, I assumed, have some view on Paris Hilton. Brandon says "I don't generally care about Paris Hilton, I don't really keep up with her. I know she says a lot of controversial shit but ..." continues Joe "Everyone seems to know everything about her, it's like me knowing what underwear he's got on" Brandon adds "Boxers". Another American phenomenon is American Idol, I asked the guys their opinion on it and would they ever try out? Joe says "Yeah, I would just for the hell of it! I'm thinking of trying for Blind Date...haha no, actually I don't really watch any of those shows ...I've never watched American Idol." Brandon adds "Me neither. Those shows are fake, they're just trying to trick you. I could never be on a reality show, it's not my personality." Joe ends this topic of conversation "It's like at the end of a Real World, it credits writers, how can there be writers, it's meant to be the real world!" Another ongoing debate is which is better Ipod, CD, or Vinyl. Brandon exclaims "8track!" a nickname given to him because he bought about 5 tapes at a gas station once and took a cassette player on tour, therefore earning him the name. Brandon does claims that the Ipod is better for tour as you don't lose all your CDs "You just lose a $400 dollar Ipod!"

So what are Rise Against's goals for the future? "To start a Neil Diamond cover band...we almost got this slot at this bar down the road...no we should be big movie stars" says Brandon, Joe confirms "Yeah, we looked really good in Lords Of Dogtown...really we just want to keep doing what we do." Honestly? That's probably the best possible answer, it gives you all a chance to pick up their records and go see them play. So go do it up, Rise Against's music is powerful and inspired catch them before they decide they really do want to give up punk rock and start up a Neil Diamond cover band...