To commemorate the 10th anniversary of Rise Against's Revolutions Per Minute, we got on the phone with bassist Joe Principe to discuss this essential release:
Revolutions Per Minute was the first record you recorded at the Blasting Room so Iím wondering what exactly inspired you to go to Colorado for the first time?
Actually it was a bit of a happy accident because we were trying to figure out where we would record our second album. The studio where we recorded our first album, they were busy and then we were going to go to another studio in San Francisco but they were busy too. Bill had recorded with some friends of ours who were also on Fat Wreck Chords, like Good Riddance, and we decided to give him a shot. From day one it was the best decision weíve ever made. Heís like the fifth member of the band at this point.
That makes sense since most of the records that followed were recorded at the Blasting Room too.
Yeah, absolutely. We deviated once for Siren Song of the Counter Culture and it just didnít work out. (Laughs) So we went back to Bill.
How would you say this record helped shape the direction that Rise Against has taken 10 years later?
I think that record just kind of solidified the sound of the band. It was when Tim started playing guitar and I dunno, it just sort of clicked. The Unraveling was more of us just trying to figure out how we functioned as a band and what type of band we wanted to be. It all just came together with this record, my songwriting style and Timís, it really meshes well together and I think it shows on that record too.
What would you say is the biggest difference between this and a more recent record like Endgame? I think it definitely has heavier edge compared to your more recent work.
Yeah, Revolutions Per Minute is very stripped down and raw, which is usually the nature of any bandís first or second record. Especially since we were such a little band back then and we didnít have a big recording budget so we just did what we could. But I think that it was probably more of a nod to our influences growing up while I think Endgame is the result of being a band for 12 years and growing as people and musicians. We also like to challenge ourselves and kind of, we donít like to rehash old ideas and thereís this constant progression that hopefully remains intact for future records.
Do you remember the first song you wrote or recorded for Revolutions Per Minute?
I remember the first song we demoed for the record, not actually recorded, but demoed. It was "Black Masks and Gasoline" from what I remember, I just remember being really proud of what we accomplished listening back. Because we recorded the demos live and it was just a good feeling to know that the hard work we were putting in was paying off. I had come from an established band [88 Fingers Louie] then we broke up so it was sort of tough to start over. During The Unraveling there was a lot of what ifís, itís kind of hard to start over no matter what youíre doing, but it was definitely worth it. That was the first moment when I was happy with everything and really realized that we had something special.
Was there anything you were hoping to accomplish with this record in particular?
I think itís the same with every record where you just want to outdo the last. In general we also set really little baby goals, we just live more day to day. Itís not like we have to be at this level by this point, just these little goals, we didnít plan on signing to a major. We didnít really have any interest in that when we did, a lot of these things just came to us. So we just sort of took it day by day.
Iím assuming this is still the record that got the majors interested in you guys?
Yeah for sure. That was at the time where a lot of our friends were signing to major labels, like AFI, Thrice and Anti-Flag. So I think the labels were kind of paying attention to what was happening in the punk scene and apparently we stood out to the guy who signed us, Ron. It was just crazy to hear a voice message from DreamWorks Records because it was DreamWorks that we signed with initially. I got back from a European tour, I was still living with my mom and suddenly there was a voice message from a major label on my momís answering machine. It was pretty surreal.
Whatís your favourite track on this record and why?
I love "Blood-Red White and Blue," I love that song, I love playing it live. Itís just one of those songs that gets me going no matter how Iím feeling that day. Whenever we play that song itís like nothing else matters, itís kind of like, thereís reasons why I got into punk rock and that song sort of sums it up. Just being aggressive, you know? Thatís why itís important to me. I like that song, but I also enjoy "Like the Angel." We like fast songs and we all love pop music too so both of those songs kind of do it for me.
Speaking of pop music, thereís a pretty awesome Journey cover tossed in at the end.
Yeah, thatís a guilty pleasure. When we were driving out to Colorado to do the record, Todd our guitar player at the time had the Best of Journey on CD and we listened to it over and over on the 19 hour drive to Fort Collins. Someone said ĎHey, we should cover one of these songsí and that was it. We all agreed and it was just a good time.
What's your least favourite track on the record?
You know, I never regret anything we do song-wise. Itís kind of like a stamp in time, that record was the best record we could have written at that time. Nothing really stands out as something I want to change, I know itís weird to say, but Iím really happy with every record weíve done. Itís kind of like how it should be in my head so I wouldnít exactly change anything.
Whatís next for Rise Against in 2013?
We have just a couple more shows throughout the year. Weíre really focusing on taking some time off and regrouping, weíve been touring pretty heavily since we started the band. But Iím sure at the end of the year, beginning of next year weíll start working on a new record, which Iím really looking forward to because I think weíll be so hungry for new songs after so much time off. I know for me personally Iíve been writing nonstop on my own. Weíll be looking forward to getting back in the room together for sure.