It can be hard for a band to retain its indie identity when big labels start throwing money around, but Rise Against has never risen to that bait even when it signed to one of the biggest labels in the industry.
Coming out of the Chicago Punk/Hardcore scene a decade ago, the quartet signed to legendary Punk label Fat Wreck Chords and released its debut album The Unraveling in 2001, and by then the group had already lost its original guitarist (and would lose another one) and drummer. 2003’s Revolutions Per Minute got the band noticed in a big way, and by the end of the year Rise Against had signed with Dreamworks … just in time for the UMG reorganization and the merging of Dreamworks into Geffen. Punk hardliners decried Rise Against’s newfound melodicism on its 2004 major label debut, Siren Song of the Counter Culture, but the album cracked Billboard’s Top 200 album chart and was ultimately certified gold.
Rise Against’s fourth album, 2006’s The Sufferer & the Witness, did even better, hitting Billboard’s Top 10 while drawing back a good many critics who had dismissed Siren Song. Last year’s Appeal to Reason charted even higher, although the group was once again faulted for mainstreaming its sound. That hardly seems the point, as Rise Against has remained consistent where it counts — in its politics (virulently against Bush), its militant social stands (strict vegans, supporters of PETA) and its ethical code (three of Rise Against’s four members are straight edge). If you want to see what causes they believe in, check out their video for “Ready to Fall” — they’re all in there.
Forget the critics: Rise Against has all the Punk cred it needs and more conviction in its causes than most bands have in themselves. Rise up, Rise Against, be counted.
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