Rise Against frontman Tim McIlrath says the group was a bit apprehensive while taking time off between 2008's "Appeal to Reason" and this year's "Endgame." But a No. 2 debut on the Billboard 200 chart in March -- the politically focused Chicago punk group's highest ever -- allayed any concerns he and his bandmates felt.
"It's sort of a big sigh of relief, I guess," McIlrath, 33, says of the album's success. "We went away for awhile after the last album, and you wonder if the fans will still be there. Like fans everywhere, they're constantly changing and getting older, and you wonder if you're still relevant to them.
"So it was nice to have the album come out like it did and see that, OK, instead of forgetting about us they're waiting for us. I feel like we've reached a core of people who keep coming back, which is exciting."
Rise Against got to expand that following a bit, too, when the group opened for the Foo Fighters' North American tour during the late summer and early fall.
"It was cool to see just a straight-up rock 'n' roll band still be able to fill arenas with no gimmicks," McIlrath notes. "And it was comforting to know that a band can get that gigantic and still be really real people and really cool and nice and really grounded and laid back.
"We've opened up for much smaller band where the security backstage was like Fort Knox. With (Foo Fighters) you have this band that's twice as big as some of those bands, and they're like, 'Yeah, come into our (dressing) room and say hello. Bring your friends. We'll come into your room and say hello. Do whatever you want. We'll all have a good time.' I was really impressed with the whole operation."
"Endgame's" campaign will continue into the new year. Rise against has lined up headlining tours of North America and Europe, and a fourth single may be pulled from the album. Meanwhile, the group has recorded a cover of Bob Dylan's "The Ballad of Hollis Brown" for "Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan," a four-CD set that will be released January 30 to celebrate Amnesty International's 50th anniversary.
Rise Against, Taking Back Sunday and AWOLnation perform at the Night 89X Stole Christmas, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Tickets are sold out. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.
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