Being a politically-charged punk band in modern times means there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit to take on. There have always been plenty of punk bands speaking out against presidents, politics, and so forth. The last four years or so of the Donald Trump presidency re-invigorated this in a lot of ways, no more evident than the masterful 20/20 Vision from Anti-Flag, released last year.
For Rise Against, a band that has been on the forefront of mainstream punk-rock since 2004, they took a different approach with their upcoming album, Nowhere Generation, which will be released next Friday, June 4th via their new label, Loma Vista Recordings. It’s a record that finds the band at their best: angry, loud, and with a message. But rather than take on the low-hanging fruit that is one specific president or person in power, Rise Against elect to take on the whole damn system that puts down what they classify as the “nowhere generation.”
In a manifesto video released back in March to announce the album, Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath explains the overall theme and message behind Nowhere Generation. While a lot of it may seem to apply to millennials and younger, when McIlrath and I are on zoom together last month, he points out that he doesn’t want to define the “nowhere generation” to just the year you were born. “I want to define the generation by those who have been affected by a lot of the things that are designed to keep people down,” he begins to explain. “It just more or less applies to are you dealing with the current atmosphere and the way it is really pushing the finish line away from people, no matter how hard they run, no matter how fast they’re racing. That’s something I think that the younger generation is certainly experiencing, but people my age are dealing with it, older than me are dealing with it as well. You see that in the rise of the 1% and the concentrated wealth. You see that in the hollowing out of the middle class.”
“You see that peoples…they wake up with a way to global warming and climate change and school shootings and then they have social media that presents this lifestyle that nobody can really attain or live up to, and they’re dealing with that pressure. So ‘Nowhere Generation’ is all about who of us wakes up with that weight and that pressure, and then what are we going to do about it,” he finishes.
One thing that sticks out in his manifesto is that there’s almost an expectation to have a side hustle, or that you’re not successful because you’re not trying hard enough. Some self-described successful entrepreneur pops up on Twitter every once in a while with a point somewhat similar to this, and usually gets called out for it’s insensitivity most of the time. This is part of where the nowhere generation becomes wide-casted, as there are people all over the age spectrum that work these 40+ hour work weeks, the 9-5’s, and simply don’t have the capacity to find a side hustle while keeping your sanity.
“We live in a generation of probably going to be the first generation that doesn’t do as well as our parents’ generation,” McIlrath csays. “Our parents had saved more money at this point, they owned homes, they started families… They did all these things that the system and the institutions that we believe them were designed to do. They were designed to reward you for working. If you worked hard enough, if you were working, if you were a nine to fiver, that was enough. That was enough to give you some version of the American Dream.”
“Then slowly, we kept asking for the work, but we no longer were providing the reward for it. We found a way to erode those things and, like I said before, it destroyed the middle class and then also take the wealth that was being created and instead of planting seeds with that wealth, we were just ripping the crops out of the ground and then storing them in bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. That’s where the shift has gone, so when you hear somebody telling you that you got to turn your hobby into your side hustle, you got to turn what you love into… that’s just because they don’t want you to look more deeply at where the wealth has gone. They want you to keep working, they want to keep moving the finish line on you, and they want you to keep running.”
It’s this terminology of moving the finish line, or moving the goal posts, that best describes the situations that we’ve been put in. Most millennials and younger can work for 35-40 years and won’t likely have the option of retirement. There’s no shortage of reasons for this happening, but no one has once stopped — or at least no one in power — to look at the systems around us and say, “How do we fix this?”
This is something McIlrath summarizes as being one of the more definitive inspirations for what would ultimately become Nowhere Generation, and it was the idea of instead of trying to fix it, watch those in power kick millennials and younger generations while they were already down. “What was happening is that culture was just having a really good time making fun of millennials. You know what I mean? That, to me, was just so insulting. To pull the rug out from under somebody, then laugh at them when they’re falling. It was so… I don’t know. It was unforgivable, but it was such a great and effective tool to keep people believing that it must be their own faults. It must be individual’s fault for what’s happening. It can’t be the system. It can’t be the institution’s. It must be the person. That’s a really dangerous trick to play on people,” he says.
“So Nowhere Generation was waking up to that, even me waking up to that, and just having a much more sympathetic ear to people’s anxieties and fears about tomorrow, and people were asking that this world looks and behaves in a way that focuses on the long term just as much as it focuses on the short term”
During my interview with McIlrath, we dive into Nowhere Generation track-by-track, which you can read fully transcribed below. It’s a record that is as classic Rise Against as it gets, in the best way possible. With just over a week to go until release date, Substream is thrilled to be giving you a deeper dive behind Nowhere Generation, to provide backstory to what can become the rallying cry for a generation that deserves more than it has ever received.
Substream: I want to dive into, obviously, a lot of the tracks here individually. But I’ve listened to record for a few weeks. I wanted to ask something. Do you think that this record is…positive isn’t necessarily the word, because you hit on a lot of things that are societally fucked up. But was it almost a rallying type of record to where it’s, “Hey, listen. This is the last shot we have correcting these things before it gets even further down the beaten path?”
Tim: Yeah. I think with Rise Against, we’ve always been a band that we want to take you to this dark place that we’re afraid of, but we always want to leave you with breadcrumbs to get you out of there. We want to show you this shit that we found, “Holy shit. You got to check this out. I can’t believe this is here. We should talk about it.” But we don’t want to slam the door behind you and say, “Just deal with it.” So there’s always a silver lining, a bit of optimism and a sense of hope, glimmers of hope, in our songs. I think that’s part of our songwriting, but also part of what we really believe, because we believe that shedding light on problems is what fixes them.
So we’re talking about a lot of really daunting things that are happening generationally to culture, and not just American culture but global culture. But there are glimmers of hope speckled throughout the record. I think that the biggest thing, the takeaway from me as I was writing this record, was I guess just alerting people to the idea that your leaders and the people that came before you and your teachers and the people that are telling you which path to take, they’re no longer responsible beacons that should follow. You know what I mean?
It’s not even that they don’t mean to be… because I’m sure that a lot of them mean well… it’s that they just don’t know your experience, and it doesn’t apply to their experience. All they know is their experience. I was born in 1978, and people listening to my band were born around 9/11. They were born into a world of the internet. I spent most my adolescence without the internet or a cell phone or any of those things, which I may as well have been born on a different planet. You know what I mean? Those are way different experiences. So the more we rely on somebody else’s experience who grew up on this different planet, the more we’re just going to end up getting lost in the wilderness. To me, the takeaway from this record is stop following this lighthouse, it’s just leading you into the rocks. Chart your own course, carve your own path and create your own destination.
The reason I think I asked about the positivity piece, because the album opener, “The Numbers,” was one that’s not necessarily super positive, because it’s obviously very self-aware of all of the shit that’s going on, but still is rallying that listener and people as a whole to be, “Hey, we still really do have strength in numbers, and that just absolutely scares the shit out of people that are actually in power.”
Right. Yeah. I think “The Numbers” is a classic punk rock tale as old as time message. It’s the people do have the power. We still do live in a democracy, a participatory democracy, where people have to answer to us, they have to answer to voters, they have to answer to people. Also, just reminding people that change really does come from the ground up.
People in power react to the will and the demands of the people. If there is no will and there are no demands and that pressure isn’t being felt and there’s no urgency to it, then people in power will do whatever they want to do, and normally that’s just to answer to the loudest voices and sometimes those loudest voices are special interests or just the uber wealthy who are just looking to generate more and more wealth… or sometimes they answer to the fearful, the people that believe that all of our problems can be traced back to the other, the somebody else, or it’s immigrants coming into our country or people who don’t look like me.
So if you don’t make those demands and you don’t create that urgency, the people in power won’t respond to it. “The Numbers” is reminding people, “Your voice is super important, if not the most important thing, in any participatory democracy.”
Yeah, absolutely. I think that was no more evident than the last few months. You look at this last election cycle; you look at what everybody had to do in Georgia, where that was really, everybody was, “Okay. We have to do this, otherwise it’s not going to get better,” and you see the downfall of some of those things already not being delivered, that people are already upset about not coming through. So I think what we talked about earlier, that’s still a very dangerous game to play, and I think you’re going…
It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out, I think, because that’s one of those things where… If you dive into the next track, “Sudden Urge,” that seems like a song where it’s, “Hey, this whole country, this whole system’s in place. Everything’s really failing us… this democracy that we were sold.” You mentioned the American Dream that we were sold was a fucking lie. So it seems like that song specifically, too, is reminding people that while we do have the strength in all of us, it’s going to be a long road, it’s more than just… One election cycle is more than just relying on people for two months and say, “Hey, we’ll buy your vote for 1,200 bucks. Let’s do it.”
Yeah, yeah. It’s very true, and that song, “Sudden Urge,” that’s, again, asking the age old question of, “Is this system and these institutions that we rely on, are they something that can be fixed, so that we can repair, so that we can repair from the inside, or are they something that need to be completely dismantled, to start over again because there’s so inherently flawed that how can you possibly fix it? Let’s just burn it to the ground and start over.” “Sudden Urge” is… I guess it’s nihilistically taking that latter perspective. You know what I mean? Just let’s burn this shit to the ground. This whole thing is ugly. Maybe we can build something more beautiful if we start over from scratch.
Yeah, absolutely. Now I’m curious is that — that’s something that I would say probably should happen. You look at everything and it’s, “Holy fuck.” It’s brutal. It’s tough to go through this year in, year out, every X amount of years, and it’s, “What has really changed?”
It’s brutal. I think it’s case by case situation. There are some things that I’m sure need to be burned to the ground and start over. We live in a different world and the founders of our country anticipated we would live in. Sometimes I think it just reminding people if you want to really zoom out, once we were cavemen beating each other up for food and living very primitively, and we decided we wanted to create these civil societies, because they were just better for us, for our families, for security and everything.
Eventually, we made a lot of different sacrifices and compromises to get large groups people into these working cities and industrial society and that kind of thing. We do all these things, because throughout history, they more or less work. There’s less war. There’s less conflict. People are happy. They have the ability to pursue happiness if they want to. I think that when we forget about those compromises and those sacrifices that we all make to be a part of society, we start to just draw into ourselves and become a lot more tribal and forget that what we have can’t be taken for granted, because we’re just on this journey to go back into being cavemen. That’s where we’re headed.
People have this whole thing, “This is my freedom. This is my liberty.” But we all understand and accept the idea of stoplights. A stoplight doesn’t do anything to your freedom or your liberty. It’s just a way more convenient way to get lots of people across town. But what it means is it means that you have to stop at it. Because what you want to do is get from point A to point B as fast as you can. A stoplight’s in your way. Selfishly, you’re, “Why do I have to stop for anybody? I should just be able to go.” But we created these things that we’ve all just accepted that say, “Well, if everyone takes their turn, and everyone does this, then we’ll all get there.” That’s a compromise that we all made. That’s a sacrifice that we all made for the greater good. I think we’re forgetting what sacrifices are and what the greater good is.
Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s obviously been no more evident than the last 12 months.
Right. Yeah, yeah,
I think there’s a lot of forgetting that, at one point in time, you mentioned something like stoplight was just… whoever invented stoplights was probably the most hated person on the planet for a bit of time.”
Yeah. Stoplights and seat belts, too. It was that’s something we just ask you to do it, because it’ll probably save your life, and we make car companies, we force car companies, to put them in a car, but that’s a good thing, and it’s not infringing on their freedoms to make cars without seat belts. It’s we demand this, because it’s going to be a safe way to do things.
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I want to then turn into the title track, “Nowhere Generation”, because I think — first of all, it’s a great single. I think it’s… that chorus lives rent free in my head to be honest, it’s a great song. I think thematically speaking, is this song that shaped the rest of the record? I don’t know if this was the first song you wrote for the record, but it seems like this is the one that help put the rest of it in place.
It did. It’s interesting. This song did end up being the first song I wrote for the record, but I did not know it was going to be the theme for the record or the name of the record or anything like that. These records that we make, we just make them. We just spit them out on the table… a whole bunch of songs, I’m writing lyrics. It’s not until it’s done when I can zoom out and take a big look at the whole thing and say, “What did we do? What did we make?” That’s when the things start to pop out. That’s when I start to see what it was talking about.
I noticed that the theme in “Nowhere Generation” kept cropping up in other songs. Then I realized, “Oh, I’ve been writing about this, so this has been on my mind.” It’s clearly showing up in all these songs. That’s when it occurred to me. Because I had a bunch of different album titles that I wanted to name the record, but it occurred to me, “Oh, ‘Nowhere Generation’ is the flagship song for this record. But not just the flagship song, the flagship theme for this record.” So that’s when I started to hone in on what I made lyrically, what we made as a band, and it all started to make sense, but it’s one of those… It’s like the the murder walls where you’re trying to find the serial murderer and you connect all the dots.
When I finally picked all the dots all the songs, I was, “Oh, this song, this album, is Nowhere Generation.”
Yeah, absolutely. So how did that conversation go? How does that work for you guys? When you get the songs done, you mentioned you do the whole thing and then you don’t intentionally obviously write songs like, “Oh, well, I need it to fit X, Y and Z of themes. I need to make sure I write a song about the housing crisis, all this stuff.” So when you get done with the record, how does it then that conversation go of, “Hey, guys. I think we’re going to call the record this?”
It happens that way. I’m writing song by song. I’m just focused on each song individually. I’m not zooming out. Then as we get to the end of the record, we start to think about albums titles and all those things, and that’s when I take that gut creative step back. I usually approach the guys with a couple different ideas like, “Here’s how I’m looking at how the lyrics have come out to me, about how they’ve spoken to me.” Then I’ll get their feedback on what they think. Then they usually have an opinion on what they think is a better album title and a better idea. Because album titles are not just catchy things, but they are things that should, I don’t know, encapsulate the album, but it’s also going to be something that we’re going to live with as far as touring and merchandise and all those things like that. It’s really going to be a thing that will come to define the era of your band. It also becomes a thing that you talk about, like what we’re talking about now. You know what I mean?
So it’s, “What do you want to talk about?” You know what I mean? Given this access, given this microphone, what is it that you want to share with the world what’s important to you? It all plays into my decision about what the album might be called. So I usually present the guys like, “Here’s what I think the album should be called. Here’s 10 reasons why I think it should be called that. Or if you hate that, we could also call it this and I also think it’s this vibe.” Sometimes it’s more obvious than others. This one just screamed Nowhere Generation to me.
Tell me a bit about “Talking to Ourselves,” because that song to me has this urgency behind it of, “Why the fuck aren’t people listening?” Not that it’s necessarily about one topic, which I think for this song — for what you guys have always done — but specifically I think this song makes it… you can listen to it, unfortunately, probably 10 years now and be, “Oh, well, this still relates to…”
Obviously when you were writing it, the rising amount of hate crimes against Asian Americans probably wasn’t on your mind, but now you’re like, “Holy shit. This is a thing and this song could still apply to that. Why aren’t people listening to these problems?” So does this track, I guess, come from that feeling of, “Is anybody listening to me. When I say these things when I go out there, when I write this, is it connecting with people?”
Yeah. You hit the nail on the head there. That’s exactly what it is. It’s 20 years of this band. This is our ninth album and your creating these songs, and a lot of them do land really effectively with listeners. We talk to a lot of people who really just connect with the message and it changes their lives and it just inspires them to be who they are. It’s really incredible to have that relationship with your audience like that.
Then some of them completely laying on deaf ears, completely. Sometimes people wonder, if we do something political, they’re, “Oh, well, why is Rise Against doing something political?” It’s, “Well, you haven’t listened to anything we’ve done then.” You know what I mean? God bless you if you heard 30 seconds of a song on the radio, but let me clue you into who we are as a band and why this is very much on brand with who we are.
But it also makes you realize, “Oh, not everyone’s listening.” If that person was confused by our stance on universal health care, then they were obviously confused about who we are as a band. Then it feels like, “Whoa. Am I just talking to myself here? What is the deal?” We’re screaming into microphones at full volume and we’re trying to get the stuff across people. So that song was just one of those expressions of that moment when you feel like you’re not being heard and the things that you’ll do to be heard. Because in that song, it’s says, “I never wanted to disturb the peace, but it feels no one’s listening.” I think that speaks to who we are as a band. We’re not shock artists. We’re not out here to do crazy PR stunts to get you to pay attention. We’re not shock rock stuff. If it seems like what we’re doing is extreme, it’s because we just want people to listen to it, we want your attention, we want eyeballs on what we’re doing.
I think I remember when you guys did “Make It Stop” 10 years ago — I don’t know if this is right, but I think I remember reading or hearing that you did that because you guys hadn’t really written the song about something like that, and obviously at that time, that’s when all those young kids were unfortunately taking their own lives due to being bullied. I thought I remember reading somebody asked you how you felt about that, what your guys’ stance was on that, and you’re like, “What the fuck do you mean what’s our stance? Where’d that come from? We are, of course, with those people that are being bullied for just who they are.”
So I think it’s interesting to hear that you’re like, “Yeah, sometimes our songs just don’t resonate enough” People, whether it’s they’re listening to rock radio after a festival or whatever it is, I think some of them don’t dive into really what they’re hearing.
Exactly. Not everyone needs to dive in. It’s not a prerequisite to listening to our band. Music can mean something to you. I don’t even think all of music needs to be political. I don’t think the Ramones are any less important, because they weren’t political. The Ramones are an important fucking band. But as far as what we do, this is what we do and so we hope that people come down this road with us, especially people who want to know more, because I feel like our fans fall in different categories. There are people who wish that we were more political. There are some people who wish we were less political. There are some people who know a few songs from the radio or because they played Guitar Hero 10 years ago. There are some people who are familiar with every single album and want us to play the really obscure B-side from a song in 2004.
So we have fans all over, and I love all of them. If you’re here, if you’ve come to the table, I love you. Let’s party. But it’s all about trying to also don’t get caught up trying to cater to anybody but also try to define yourself, stand up for who you are and be confident in who you are as a band.
Yeah, absolutely. I wanted to also ask about “Forfeit,” because obviously that’s… It’s an acoustic song. What does the song, I guess, represent to you? Because I think for most of the record, obviously, it seems to be inspired by social events and everything. I don’t know if I’m right with this, but “Forfeit” seems to be different from that. From my listens, I don’t know if this is more of interpersonal song, if this is still about something else.
What I’ve always loved about Rise Against is that we’ve been able to get away with really explicitly political songs and also be able to write really personal songs and to have it still be on brand with who we are. “Forfeit”, kind of like the same thing, “Swing Life Away” is not a political song. It’s just a fun summertime jam. That’s what this song is. There’s nothing political about it. It’s about your commitment to somebody, it’s about your commitment to something and it’s about refusing to surrender and give up on that person or that thing. So that was the vibe I was feeling when those chords were coming through, and I brought that song in.
I always loved that dynamic of Rise Against, that we’re able to do that We can scream our heads off and play super fast punk at full volume at you, but we can flip it and then get really harsh and quiet and bring the crowd down for a minute to the point where you can hear a pin drop and still have that weight and that gravity of a song. So it’s a welcome addition to the album.
Along those lines, I don’t know if “Monarch” stays in that same lane. There’s obviously in that song, you’ve got the line of, “No longer am I a prisoner to your empty fucking words.” So I don’t know if this one seems to be more of an internal conflict. Is that where that song lies?
That song as about refusing to live under someone’s thumb, refusing to be controlled by anybody, acknowledging that you are being controlled by them and coming out of your shell. Even the title of the song has double meaning. It’s a monarch, somebody is ruling over who you are and what you do and you’re casting aside, but at the same time, I was thinking of the monarch butterfly, a butterfly that comes out of a cocoon and you’re a whole different person when you do.
So that song was about growth. I feel like there are so many listeners of our band who have either had an experience like that or are going to have an experience like that. People that come to us and come to our music are people that are trying to overcome something, or have overcome something and our music becomes a soundtrack to that individual’s story. So I thought “Monarch” was paying tribute to that tale.
Yeah. It’s a transitional, formative song. You mentioned earlier you have fans all over the place, fans that are younger, fans that are my age, maybe there’s some that are still going through those high school bullshit, unfortunately. So I think that’s a great song for those people, for those people that you mentioned are still going through something and have to come out the other side stronger. I think that’s the perfect song.
If you got into punk rock and hardcore or hard rock, it means you were a different person before you got into it than you are now. You know what I mean? Something in your compass directed you towards it, whatever it was. Everybody has their own story. But the person you’re before is different than the person that came after. So you’re right. Transformative is the perfect word.
If you’re going through the album, this is where I got… if you look at “Forfeit” and “Monarch” or something that detours into something more personal, you get right back almost on track, not that it’s on brand, but “Sounds Like” — I think that song seems to take a shot at the lack of reactiveness or follow through on there’s a promise X, Y and Z and then to improve the country and then it doesn’t. You’ve got people in power now that still sputter out some things. Then you mentioned you in the song, you call out the sending thoughts and prayers but no follow through. So is that where this song comes in?
Yeah, yeah. That one…I’m trying to think back to it now. I’m trying to reflect that one. The record’s still so new to me as well. It’s almost like it’s not new to me, but it’s because we completed it a long time ago. But it’s one of those things where you just create every song all at once and then you gotta come back to it.
But “Sounds Like,” it’s an exasperation of a song, an expression of, “What are we doing? How are we back here again,” and just trying to put a little nuance to that feeling.
Yeah, it is one of those things of, “Oh, fuck. We’re still here.” We’re still in this situation that we were X amount of time ago.
I know I mentioned earlier, “Talking to Ourselves” is having this sense of urgency. I think the whole record really has that whole sense of we’ve got to go, get these things turned around. But then I listened to “Sooner or Later,” and that song really takes that to literally the whole sooner or later, this shit is going to get past the point of repair. You mentioned there are some things, do we need to burn them down? Do we need to repair it now? I think this song really comes to that. It’s like we have to get this shit, the stuff that we’ve been pushing down, pushing aside, or it’s going to bite us in the ass.
Yes. That song is pulsing with that impending doom. It wants to remind you these things need to be taken into account with some urgency and anything you don’t deal with today, you’re just going to have to deal with tomorrow and it’s probably just going to be twice as bad.
You can look at something as… not simple, but something we’ve been arguing about forever is look at climate change. I was so young. I was literally six when Al Gore was coming out of the woodworks and was, “Fucking climate change.” Everyone was, “No, dude. You’re crazy. That’s absurd.” Now here we are 21 years later, and he’s probably sitting in this fucking office like, “Yeah, I don’t know, man. I told you guys 20 years ago, man.” I think that’s the perfect example of something, and you’ve still got people who are, “No, it’s okay. It’s not going to be my problem.” I think that’s a lot of that selfishness of, like we mentioned earlier of compromise. Nobody wants to do anything if it doesn’t benefit them directly.
Exactly. Yeah. Climate change has so much to do with capitalism, and capitalism is such a religion for so many people, and climate change and the idea of climate change is so offensive to that religion of capitalism because they come to a head. Capitalism says that we can take whatever we want, and as long as it makes money, it’s a good thing; and climate change is saying you can’t. If you take too much, you will throw off the stability of our whole planet. Then all of a sudden, money means nothing at all.
Climate change and the appropriate reaction to climate change is such a threat to some of the basic tenets of capitalism, which people treat very religiously that that’s where we hit the stalemate.
Yeah. Which is so interesting. I’ve always found that capitalism is such an interesting thing for this, especially people that are my age and that are still really behind capitalism, because I’m like, “When have we ever benefited from capitalism?” What is somebody that’s 27 and younger — again, unless you walk into a really privileged scenario where you inherit money, or whatever it is, the most average person is going to be a victim of capitalism, more often than not.
Yeah. Capitalism is still probably one of the best forms of societal function, but it has no soul. You know what I mean? It has no right and wrong, so it will always need to be controlled by some soul. Every healthy society, or the closest thing to a healthy society, are some blend of capitalism and socialism, something that keeps people from building a paper mill in your backyard so you don’t get cancer, you know what I mean? Because to a shareholder, if that paper mill makes money, they’re saying, “Yes. Cool. I don’t care about anything else. Are you saying my stock goes up this year? Then great.” To you and your family, you’re like “Yo, you can’t build a paper mill in my backyard. I’m not doing it.” So that will always be the push and pull, and I think, in some ways, capitalism is owning a bigger piece of that pie nowadays than in long time, so there needs to be some sort of control.
Yeah absolutely. Well, I I wanted to just ask about the last two songs: “Middle of a Dream” and “Rules of Play.” What do, I guess, those songs… I know, again, you’ve had the record done for a while, but what do the release of those songs represent and cover for you guys?
So “Rules of Play,” I remember it’s one of those… We live in such a polarized world now where it’s hard sometimes to find people that you agree with and that you’re simpatico with. Not to say that we should only be looking for people that we agree with. We should be for argument and we should be looking for healthy debate and that kind of thing. But “Rules of Play” is about finding that person where it’s, “Ah, you get it.” That’s a moment. You know what I mean? It can’t be dismissed. Not that we should surround ourselves with echo chambers or whatever, but there is something to be said for that moment where you’re, “I’m so happy to connect with this person who gets it and sees it, and we see the world through the same lens.” It’s comforting. It’s one of those human comforts. So that’s what “Rules of Play was”… What’s the line? “I can see in your eyes that you and I are kind of the same.”
So that, to me, represents the Rise Against community, too. When we play our shows around the planet, it’s such a release for people and almost like a rally for them all to be in the same room together and singing these songs and understanding and getting the concepts and seeing they’re not alone. Not being alone is a big part of it. So “Rules of Play,” I think it’s the last song on the record, it’s one of those things like, “We have each other. I see you.”
Then, what was the other song?
“Middle of a Dream.”
“Middle of a Dream” is more just about chasing something and never not… or not knowing quite what it is all the time. You just have that drive, that push, for something. You’re not even totally sure what it is. You don’t even know what you would do if you got it. That endless, that chase, that we all feel. What’s behind the corner?
It’s a terrible analogy, but I think of… it’s so funny. A more light hearted way of looking at that, you look at it like any dog chasing a ball. What the hell do they do when they get it? They just want you to throw it again. You get it and you’re, “Well, fuck. Now what?”
I need to do something else. I need to find something that motivates you; otherwise, what are we doing? What am I really getting out of bed for? Not to be all bleak about it, but really, if I don’t give myself purpose, nobody is going to give it to you.
Right. Yes. Yeah, absolutely.
We mentioned earlier that the record obviously is speaking up for that Nowhere Generation, your guys using your platform to do so. If you had to tell us those groups of people that, what would you say they could do? What would you say… That’s a loaded question really, but what should we be doing? What should these people be doing to try to make all of this better?
Just quit school and start a band. No, I’m kidding. It’s interesting, because the whole record made me think about this. I’m not going to give you a prescribed route to take here, but that’s part of the takeaway is that stop listening to the people that came before. Their experience was different than yours is; their advice, in some ways, is obsolete; they grew up on a different planet than you did; and that you’re going to have to carve your own path. That to me is the takeaway from the record is that when we start to recognize the landscape that we are navigating these days is so much different, it will make you rely less on those that came before.
Not that there aren’t lessons to be learned from previous generations, but in so many ways we are in uncharted territory. I think people are waking up to that. They’re starting to demand a more longterm look at the future. They’re starting to demand more equality. They’re starting to realize that if we treat everybody here a little more fair, it’s better for everybody. It’s not that somebody is taking away your slice of the pie, it’s we’re just creating more pie for everybody. Nobody wants to live in a world where half the country wants to just set shit on fire.
At its base, we just want tomorrow to look better. We want to take care of ourselves, each other, our families. We want safety. We want security. We all want happiness. We all want a lot of the same things, and we all just have different opinions on how we get there. So that’s, that’s the takeaway for me is to start listening to your self, stop listening people around you and carve your own path.
The last thing I’ll say is I agree with that. I think we could say things have been said over and over about the year 2020, but I think the silver lining if you want to call that, or the beauty of 2020, was that it showed a lot of people, specifically obviously younger generations, that… It’s tough, because I feel like a lot of people feel like they aren’t really represented with the people in power. Sometimes you see people that we thought represented us, whether it’s people from the left or the right, whatever you want to look at it, and you thought once had some promise but succumb to these general politics, and they end up defending things they ran against or whatever it might be. Just to fit that status quo.
So I think a lot of people, like you mentioned, we’re getting sick of that. I think people are tired of it. Like you said, nobody really wants to set this place on fire. Really, I don’t want to have to go outside and be like, “Oh, I got to avoid that street. They’re setting the Capitol building on fire.” But the reason I think and say this, I think, because timing wise for Rise Against, I think Nowhere Generation could be that most important record for what’s really going on. I don’t even know if that makes sense, but I see this almost inevitable kind of uprising, if you want to call it that, and then Nowhere Generation, for a lot of people, is the soundtrack to what that is.
Yeah. I think you hit on one of the motivations behind writing the record, which is, “Let’s find something that isn’t just talking about the talking heads that are on our TVs or the polarization of right and left. Let’s talk about the things that we have in common.” To be a political punk rock band alive today means there’s a lot of low hanging fruit,
There’s no shortage of different things, and we could do our part of increasing polarization and make people recede further into their tribes. That would be something that would be pretty easy to do.
I’m sure some people accuse us of doing that. But this was something that was we wanted to talk about the weight that we all feel when we wake up in today’s world and why we feel that, what that weight is, why it’s happening, what it’s doing to us and then how we alleviate ourselves from it. How do we how do we cast that weight off our shoulders and move on into a brighter tomorrow? That’s what this record wanted to talk about. Instead of nitpicking at a lot of the things that really polarize our communities, it wanted to talk about some of the universal truths.
‘Nowhere Generation’ will be released next Friday, June 4th via Loma Vista and can be pre-ordered here.