When Rise Against bassist Joe Principe spoke to Metro upon the release of 2008’s “Appeal to Reason,” the Chicago populist punk band’s shift toward a more radio-friendly sound had divided fans, but set them on a path toward broader mainstream success.
Principe was delighted with his band’s position, with a solid enough fan base to keep going strong, but not too big to suffer from inflated expectations. With “Endgame,” a new collection of strident, shout-able punk choruses and progressive politics played from the heart, the head and the gut, and a tour that has them selling out two nights at the House of Blues, those feared expectations may have arrived.
“It shows you that hard work pays off,” Principe says. “It’s a cool feeling to see it grow.”
“Endgame” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard chart, no easy feat for an independent-minded group of thirtysomething, straight-edge, hard-core guys.
“When we started, we had people in Chicago saying, ‘You guys won’t work, you guys won’t last,’” recalls Principe of the origins of Rise Against 11 years ago.
If critics find fault with their polished heavy pop rock sound, Principe puts it in perspective: “With any band, you’re gonna get the purists that never want you to change from your first album. Everyone has the re-cord that’s important to them, and they never want you to deviate from that re-cord. When a band doesn’t change and rehashes over and over, you get s—, when you progress you get s—.”
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Radio-ready sound to the contrary, the fiercely liberal-leaning band still bring the lyrical fire on “Endgame” songs like “Make It Stop” — which addresses last year’s rash of gay teen suicides — and “Architects,” where singer Tim McIlrath assails punk peers who’ve lost their edge, singing: “Don’t you remember when we were young and we wanted to set the world on fire? Cuz I still am and I still do.”
“I think as people grow older, their priorities and beliefs change a little bit,” Principe says. “We’re all in our thirties now, but what drove us to punk rock is still intact.”