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By Andy Argyrakis
Rise Against This Week's Picks: Catching up with Chicago's very own Rise Against prior to its homecoming show
Monday, January 23, 2012

The winter months aren't exactly the ideal time to tour considering a solid chunk of America is entrapped by below zero temperatures and buried in mounds of snow. But in keeping with the punk rock ethos of Rise Against, the Chicago-based band is braving the icy roads and loading up the bus with its latest record, last year's Endgame (DGC/Interscope) on display. "It's cold and people aren't out doing things, so it's great get to those cities and give people a reason to come out," explains drummer Brandon Barnes, phoning in from the road. "We've always toured in the winter, even Canada, and we're not scared. We used to tour with a van and trailer, which was definitely interesting in the winter, but we're always careful."

Now that the band's been together for over a decade with a half-dozen studio albums under its belt, it's only fitting to find the venues spanning large clubs to college arenas. With school just getting back in session, Rise Against's timing couldn't be more ideal, especially since students seem to be the band's primary audience. Though the guys promise plenty from their back catalogue, Endgame is its primary priority, which finds Rise Against retaining its aggressive edge, but also evolving with a full-throttled melodic backbone. Barnes credits the noticeable growth to a completely organic studio experience free of computerized corrections and excessive production effects.

"We didn't want to sound like a lot of the bands you hear on the radio," he asserts. "In the age of Pro Tools Rise Againstand all these things, a lot of guitar and drum tones seem fake sounding to me. We went to the Blasting Room in Fort Collins and wanted it to have a natural sound with real drums and guitars. We're not writing the same record over and over, but it's still a true Rise Against record, a natural progression if you will."

The album also boasts a somewhat spontaneous feel, perhaps gleaned from roving writing sessions on the road, rather than being confined to a single rehearsal room with a tight deadline. "We try to write a lot on the road and constantly worked on stuff over a two year period so we didn't have to cram it all in during a few weeks," he continues. "We're still going strong for 11 years now, and I don't know how others do it, but somehow we're still doing it."

As for the "Endgame" title, it continues in the group's tradition of having a politically-conscious connection. Not only are all the guys either vegan or vegetarian and serve as staunch supporters of various human and animal rights, but they've also been vocal about voting and environmental concerns.

"I think the idea behind it had to do with the lyrical content on the record, which deals with things we're doing to our environment, wars and how countries are going about treating their citizens and economies," says Barnes. "If we continue to live this way, maybe it will be an 'Endgame' for the way we live as humans on this planet. We've been going down a negative path for the last few years, but maybe we'll reach a point where we'll rethink energy and go down a more positive path. We may be facing an 'Endgame' to the way we're living, but that could bring a positive new way of life."

Friday at UIC Pavilion:

This Week's Picks 2012

Jan. 16 - 22
Jan. 9 - 15
Jan. 2 - 8
The Dish Archives - 2011
The Dish Archives - 2010 The Dish Archives - 2009
The Dish Archives - 2008 The Dish Archives - 2007

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