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Rise Against finds itself on the rise before Rapids date

There are plenty of politically charged bands that would have multiple axes to grind in the seemingly divisive climate the country finds itself in.

Rise Against is one of the few that finds itself on active duty.

Formed in 1999, the Chicago hard rock/punk quartet (Tim McIlrath, vocals, guitar; Zach Blair, guitar; Joe Principe, bass; and Brandon Barnes, drums) has seen its share of political change. Social commentary was on full display from the band’s second album “Revolutions Per Minute” in 2003.

During the early- to mid-2000s Bush era, the band found some of its greatest success, with albums like “The Sufferer and the Witness,” and “Appeal to Reason,” which reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200. On its new album, “Wolves,” Rise Against finds a more ferocious sound and a new found purpose fueled by the 2016 presidential election.

Rise Against will bring its show to the Rapids Theatre in Niagara Falls next week. In advance of that appearance, Principe talked about the band’s continuing politics and being a voice of dissent in popular music.

Q: Do you feel that every day that passes in our political climate gives more depth to your music?

A: Punk rock is political by nature and I feel like that it just so happens a lot is going on socially, politically, and environmentally. Things have fallen in line with what we’ve been thinking about for years. I wish we didn’t have to sing about these things. Our job is to present facts and have listeners make up their own mind.

Q: As you recorded the album, did the aggression of the music immediately stem from the aftermath of the election?

A: Musically, no. The music was intact pre-election, but I feel politics and everyday life does drive the aggression out of us. It’s been with us since high school. It’s just the self-expression, and it goes hand in hand lyrically.

Q: Was there a conscious way you wanted to structure the songs you recorded on this new record?

A: We wanted to cut the fat from the songs. We wanted to get to the point as quickly as possible and be urgent. That was a conscious decision on the band’s behalf. We didn’t want to go too crazy with instrumentals. I think we accomplished that for the most part.

Q: Do you feel that you’re a part of the first wave of music to deliver a message of how young Americans are feeling in the political climate?

A: It is a very timely record. The youth of America need bands like us and Bad Religion and System of a Down, and other politically driven bands. The youth that are frustrated with current events gravitate to bands like ours because we’re like-minded. It’s a place to fit in and find kinship in how they’re feeling.

Q: Do you think live rock shows in general play a part in diffusing a sense of frustration or anger people may be feeling?

A: Absolutely. Back when I was in school, it was a release and it gave me a sense of purpose. It’s extremely important. It’s rallying together. You’re a part of this movement that’s really powerful.

Q: Do you feel, as a band, more injected with a sense of purpose now more than ever?

A: Part of me thinks, well of course people will get what we’re singing about, it’s common sense. But I do feel the more we tour, the more we’re getting out there and doing good. It can be frustrating at times when people don’t get what you’re singing about or unwilling to listen. That’s what makes me the most upset. We have to listen to opposing views in this world.

Q: Though I’d say your future for now is pretty secure as a band, do you feel that no matter who is in office, it’s your duty to speak out about injustice?

A: There’s never a shortage of things to scream about. I wish I could put out of a job, but it’s always ongoing. It’s hard to make change on such a big level, but we can keep trying and you need keep a sense of hope.


Rise Against

8 p.m. Sept. 27 in Rapids Theatre, 1711 Main St., Niagara Falls

Tickets $42.50 -$45 at

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