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Rise Against feels responsible for the nowhere generation

 (Photographer: deMonica orozco)
(Photographer: deMonica orozco)

“Nowhere Generation,” the name of the latest Rise Against album, isn’t a shot directed at the youth of today. Rather it’s a take on where Generation Z, those born from 1997-2012, are thanks to Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.

“We’ve dumped so much onto kid’s laps,” Rise Against guitarist Zach Blair said while calling from his Austin home. “We’re giving them a climate crisis. It’s like, ‘Hey, guys. It’s now time for you to figure it out. Here are the keys. Turn off the lights when you’re done.’ They are the nowhere generation.”

The band’s ninth album, which is full of earnest and urgent punk rock, covers how the elder generations have made it so difficult for the kids with such songs as “Broken Dreams, Inc.” and “Forfeit.”

However, there is some hope within Rise Against, which will perform Friday at the Knitting Factory. “Kids today have a bad hand dealt to them but they’re smarter than we are. They’re more inclined to help others and be environmentally friendly and they’re generally just good to their fellow man. I apologize to them for messing up everything. The whole future is these kids and we’re hoping for the best. It’s going to be fascinating to see what happens and if they can solve a few things. It’s all up to them.”

Rise Against, which also includes vocalist-guitarist Tim Mcllrath, bassist Joe Principe and drummer Brandon Barnes, will continue to write about societal issues in hardcore punk fashion. However, the band’s post-grunge riffs help make the message more palatable.

“We have the benefit of Tim’s songwriting talent,” Blair said. “He helped our band break out of the punk rock confines and we crossed over into the zeitgeist of American rock radio songs that appeal to the red states.”

The band’s anthemic sonics help make topics that divide the country, socialism, anti-war sentiments go down easy in conservative territory. “We stick our neck out to speak out about gay, lesbian and trans rights,” Blair said. “We’re out there hoping to give people who might be thinking about suicide some support and understanding. We spread a positive word about some serious subjects while we play loud rock guitars.”

Rise Against is following the blueprint handed down by such punk legends as Bad Religion and the Descendents. “We’re influenced by a bunch of great bands,” Blair said. “Tim is a grunge kid, who grew up on Nirvana, Soundgarden and Dinosaur Jr. He loves that whole wall of guitar thing. I’m obsessed with the great rock guitar riffs starting with AC/DC. I love it loud. I grew up a thrash-metal kid, who loved Metallica and Slayer. But it’s all about putting that ear worm guitar riff out there. It’s about making that catchy vocal melody. It’s about having a message but it’s also about having fun and we’ve been having fun or this band wouldn’t exist after all of these years.”

Blair, who joined Rise Against in 2007, is the band’s most recent addition. Blair was part of the cartoonish metal act GWAR. “I had fun in GWAR but it’s nothing like what I’m doing here with Rise Against,” Blair said. “This is where I want to be.”

Blair hopes to remain with Rise Against for years. “We have a great thing going here,” Blair said. “We all get along and we have so much to say musically. I hope we’re around long enough to see what the next generation of kids accomplish. They have an enormous task at hand. I would love to be able to witness it and be inspired to write music about what they achieve.”

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