Rise Against Speaking to the ‘Nowhere Generation’

Rise Against’s music has addressed everything from LGBTQ rights, animal rights, voting rights to environmental causes and modern warfare – topics a lot of artists won’t touch. Image | Wyatt Troll

The multi-Gold and Platinum rock band Rise Against is touring this summer in support of its new album “Nowhere Generation” and hitting The Mann Center on Aug. 1. 

Rise Against continues to ascend to new heights on this latest release – debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Rock Chart and No. 3 on the Top Current Albums chart, certifying the band’s place as one of the biggest rock bands to emerge from Chicago in the past decade. 

“There’s this idea that we all are raised on, believing that your generation will be a continuance of your parents’ generation – if not even a more fruitful era,” said singer/guitarist/lyricist Tim McIlrath. “And it seems like the American Dream isn’t turning out the way it’s supposed to for a lot of people. Young people aren’t quite climbing that ladder the way they were in the past. I feel for this generation and think it’s something that should be recognized.”  

Lyrically, much of the band’s upcoming ninth studio album was inspired by listening to his young daughters and a community of fans, seeing firsthand the generation gap growing quicker than ever before while mired in chronic social, economic, and political instability.  “Our hope on this record,” McIlrath said, “is to jostle people awake, even if it makes you uncomfortable.”

The band – McIlrath, Joe Principe (bass), Brandon Barnes (drums), and Zach Blair (lead guitar) – sounds those alarms on the album’s unabashedly outspoken songs that speak to a sea of disenchanted youth about both the struggles and the solutions, while sonically continuing to blur the lines between astute punk rock and melodic-driven pop. 

“Nowhere Generation” is Rise Against’s first release under a new agreement with Loma Vista Recordings and comes three years after their 2017 blockbuster “Wolves” that became their fifth straight top 10 record on the Billboard 200 albums chart. 

Tickets for Rise Against’s Aug. 1 appearance at The Mann can be found at manncenter.org.

PW recently caught up with McIlrath to talk about the band and the album.

You once said, “When we first started Rise Against, we just wanted to be a dirty punk band, write some songs, play a bowling alley, and see how many mosh pits we could get going.” After more than 20 years, the band is way more than that. Why do you think you’ve been so successful?

I don’t think I could pinpoint our success at any one thing. If I had to attempt an answer, I think we just kept our heads down and made music and played shows. We found ourselves able to compete with bands in different genres with our songwriting. We steered clear of drama and kept pushing forward. The world and its problems created an audience hungry for songs like ours, and we became the landing pad for a lot of lost people looking for answers.

Your music has addressed everything from LGBTQ rights, animal rights, voting rights to environmental causes and modern warfare. A lot of artists won’t touch issues such as these. Why do you embrace them?

Honestly it was never a conscious decision we made. We come from a punk and hardcore world where marrying issues of the day with your music was par for the course, it was the music I was surrounded by and raised on.

Rise Against will appear at The Mann Aug. 1 in support of its new album ‘Nowhere Generation.” Image | Jason Siegel

In an interview with KXXR in Minneapolis, you talked about how “Nowhere Generation” came from this generation’s new challenges that need new solutions. Can you talk a little about those challenges and solutions and how you turned that idea into an album?

Too many young people feel left behind, slipping through the cracks of society, and unable to get ahead. Too many of our fans were telling us about how hard they were working while feeling like the finish line keeps moving. These stories were echoing in my head as I sat down to put the lyrics for this album together. A young person’s experience today is something we need to consider as we shape the world around us and ask ourselves if we are going in the right direction.

How did the band weather the pandemic? How excited are you to get back before live audiences?

We all weathered the pandemic in our own ways. I returned to school. There was something comforting about being less engaged with the headlines and more engaged about the lessons we’ve learned throughout history. Playing live is a part of who I am so I’m excited to return to that place.

What’s the stage show like these days? What will your fans experience when they show up at The Mann on Aug. 1?

We are in the process of putting it together now, expect it to be physical and loud and memorable.

What are the best ways for fans to stay current with what Rise Against is doing?

We are on all the socials, you can keep up with us there.

  • Eugene Zenyatta was raised on old-time Memphis 'rasslin' and strongly prefers the company of dogs to people. His greatest heartbreak came in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic.

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