Rise Against's commercial prospects keep looking better and better. The Chicago-based band's latest album, Appeal to Reason, debuted at the number-three spot on Billboard's Top 200 chart in October, and the act is taking advantage of the exposure with a world tour that includes a pair of dates at the Fillmore this week. For drummer Brandon Barnes, the appearances will mark a homecoming. The Colorado native, who returned here after stints living in Chicago and Austin, Texas, spoke with us about the band's recent achievements, the high yield of material during its last recording session and the appeal of working at the Blasting Room in Fort Collins.
Westword: From what I've read, it seems that the sessions for Appeal to Reason yielded a lot more material than what showed up on the album. Did any factor in particular lead to the wealth of new songs this time?
Brandon Barnes: There was no real plan to write double the amount of songs we normally do. We just sort of came up with more material this time. You know, we don't really have a system for writing; we write any way possible. On the road, one day we'll have an idea, or soon we'll have an entire song. We write every way possible.
We just ended up with 29 songs for the record, and it just happened that way. Usually we have like fifteen for a ten-song album, and this time we had double, so we just had a lot more to work with. I think we just worked real hard and spent a lot of time writing on the road as well.
As a Colorado native, can you talk a bit about recording in the Blasting Room studio in Fort Collins? What's the appeal that keeps the band coming back?
The appeal is [producers] Jason Livermore and Bill Stevenson. Those guys are basically two members of the band at this point. Jason Livermore was in a band — Wretch Like Me, from Fort Collins, a punk band — and then Bill, obviously, was in Black Flag and the Descendents. They just get the band; they get what we're trying to do, and we feel comfortable with Bill, because essentially we're recording music that he pioneered and invented.
Rise Against has carved a niche for itself with its theme of political activism. I'm curious as to how this sea change in the landscape of American politics will affect your music.
It's funny, because people always give politicians a god complex, like Obama's in office, everything's fine. We're happy that Obama got elected — thank God we're not going through another four years of Republicans — but at the same time, we're still in the war in Iraq, we still have major financial problems, we still have major environmental problems. — A.H. Goldstein