Rise Against are plotting to top that album with Endgame, due out
next Spring. And frontman Tim McIlrath will be tackling an ambitious
concept for the disc: the end of humankind as we know it.
"Every day, there's news about our financial system or the environment
collapsing or stories about nuclear proliferation," McIlrath tells SPIN.
"We're living under this black cloud of doom — everything's spiraling
out of control. The record is about all that."
Not that that's necessarily a bad thing: "We're looking at Endgame
from the perspective of, 'What if this is a good thing? What if this
grotesque world we created doesn't deserve to go on? What if the place
on the other of this transition is place we'd all rather be living in?'"
McIlrath may have a grander vision for the band's music, but they've
stuck with longtime collaborators Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore to
produce the record in their favorite studio: Fort Collins, CO's Blasting
Room. "It's so unpretentious and low-key," says McIlrath of the space.
"It's just a big gray building that says 'Furniture and Rentals' on it,
and there's a box truck parked out front that the Descendents used to
tour. It's been sitting there for a million years."
Of the dozen or so new songs, McIlrath is particularly psyched about the
amped-up rocker "Help Is on the Way," which details the destruction
wreaked upon New Orleans after Katrina and the BP oil disaster. McIlrath
was inspired to write the song after spending time in the city while
the band was on break from touring.
"I was down in those wetlands with a guy talking about how important
they were and the damage that was being inflicted on them," says
McIlrath. "And this was right before the oil spill! I could almost
visualize a tear coming out of that guy's eye, like, 'Are you kidding
me? Kicking us while we're down?'"
McIlrath also adds he got particular inspiration from an unlikely
source: the Dixie Chicks, and their song "Not Ready to Make Nice," which
the country group wrote in response to the negative reaction that
erupted after singer Natalie Maines insulted then-President Bush, whose
foreign policy she disagreed with, at a concert in England.
Like the Chicks, Rise Against have been supported by a major label,
Interscope, even when releasing controversial material. "For a band that
has always been against popular opinion and been thrown into the world
of popular music — it goes without saying our opinions will ruffle
feathers," he says.
"Satellite" is one of those Dixie Chicks-inspired tracks and features
McIlrath howling: "We can't feel the heat until you hold your hand over
the flame / You have to cross the line just to know where it lays / You
never know your worth until you take a hit / And you won't find the beat
until you lose yourself in it."
Endgame won't be a constant barrage of raging punk anthems,
however. The band is veering into softer territory on tracks like "Wait
for Me." "It's one of the slower, more ballad-esque songs on the
record," says McIlrath.
Rise Against have most of the recording done for the album, but McIlrath
is hoping to get a couple of guest collaborators when the band mixes
the record in Los Angeles in January. "We have a lot of friends in bands
and I'm really after getting someone else on the record," he says.