During its 15 years, Rise Against has been defined as much by its strident political views as much as its pulverizing brand of punk rock.
but for "The Black Market," which came out in July and debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, frontman Tim McIlrath left the outside world for a moment in favor of a more intimate and introspective, but still aggressive, set of songs.
"I don't know where that came from," says McIlrath, 35, though he suspects that a short hiatus the group took between "The Black Market" and 2011's "Endgame" had something to do with it. "In that time we got to go back and be normal and raise families and kind of forget about the band for a minute. So when we came back to it, I think we came back with as much of an outsider's perspective as you can possibly get and, 'Wow, look at this thing we created over the last 15 years.'
"And when you think like that, you start to ask, 'What is this thing? Is it something we're proud of, and where do we fit into people's lives? If they identify with us, what are they identifying with?' Those were things we never really took the time to think about before."
McIlrath says he didn't realize where "The Black Market" was headed "until pretty late in the game," but he enjoyed the challenge of doing more than waving his fist at the world's ills this time out.
"It was a little uncomfortable; it forced me not to just rely on the same old tools that I've used already and work outside of that and try to pick some different tools out of the tool box and see what else I had in there," he acknowledges. "That made it a little more strenuous, I guess, a little more like, "How do I do this? Is this good enough? Will this be something that will resonate with people?'
"Any time you take a risk like that it's easy to second guess what you're doing. But I do think it was time to switch things up a little, and I'm glad we did."
89X Chill on the Hill
Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 6-7. Doors open at 1 p.m.
The Offspring, a Day to Remember, Bad Religion, Group Love and more (Saturday); Rise Against, AWOLNATION, Chevelle, Taking Back Sunday, the Orwells and more (Sunday)
Weekend passes are $99.89 and $79.89 pavilion, $29.89 lawn. Single day tickets are $59.89 and $49.89 pavilion, $19.89 lawn.
Call (586) 268-5100 or visit www.freedomhill.net
Send your thoughts and comments to