For more than 10 years, hardcore/punk band Rise Against has made a living from the ideology that music and a message should go hand-in-hand.
And with the success of their anthemic, political sixth studio album, "Endgame" - which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard album chart - it's clear that people are still listening.
The band will bring its live show to the area when its national tour with A Day To Remember and The Menzingers hits University Park at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Bryce Jordan Center. Tickets are $39.50 for general floor admission and $32.50 event level reserved seating.
Members of Rise Against are (from left) bassist Joe Principe, drummer Brandon Barnes, lead guitarist Zach?Blair and singer and rhythm guitarist Tim McIlrath.
Best known for songs like "Savior" and "Swing Life Away," Rise Against formed in 1999 with a short-lived lineup under the name Transistor Revolver. The band changed its name and released its first album in 2001.
In the years that followed, Rise Against entertained rampant radio play and major label success, having had three straight albums RIAA-certified gold. The band spent much of 2011 on tour in support of "Endgame," which was released last March.
Zach Blair, lead guitarist for Rise Against who joined the band in 2007, said touring is pretty much the only way to maintain your fan base with current trends in the music industry.
If you go
What: Rise Against with A Day To Remember and The Menzingers
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park
Details: Tickets are $39.50 for general floor admission and $32.50 event level reserved seating. Tickets can be purchased at the Bryce Jordan Center, Eisenhower Auditorium, Penn State Downtown Theatre, Altoona Campus Outlet, by calling 814-865-5555, or online at www.bjc.psu.edu or www.ticketmaster.com.
"Music is now free," he said during a phone interview. "So I've worked my whole life to be able to do this, support myself, and the thing that I dedicate myself to, now people just give away. So it's made it to where you have to be a working musician in order for people to have to hear your music, or live music at least.
"At least people can't download a live show, you know, an organic experience like that."
Luckily, Blair said Rise Against loves being on tour. Even when playing a big arena stage, Blair said the band can hearken back to the small, gritty punk rock shows they grew up going to in basements and small venues.
"People were sweating and giving everything they could," he said. "So I don't think any one of us would go onstage if we didn't feel like we were going to give 110 percent. There's no standing around on stage and there's no phoning it in, so to speak. It's always a physical experience, and we always pretty much physically hurt ourselves on every tour."
Being politically aware and citing their views through music is also something Rise Against learned from their punk rock roots. The lyrics of many songs from "Endgame" focus on the band's position on real world events and social problems. The song "Help Is On The Way" was inspired by the band's firsthand account of the devastation after Hurricane Katrina, while "Make It Stop (September's Children)" references LGBT teen suicide by asking "What God would damn a heart?" Rise Against has also shown its support for the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
"Our band has always sort of worn its influences on its shirtsleeve and our political message on our shirtsleeve," Blair said.
The band also practices what they preach, and encourages their fans to do the same.
Being environmentally-conscious, as well as proponents for animal rights, is important to the band, which actively supports People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and observes veganism. But when it comes to the buses, vans and trailers needed to put on a successful tour, there's little for a band like Rise Against to do to be eco-friendly. So Rise Against put out a call to fans to consider greener methods of transport to their shows, including public transportation, walking and car-pooling.
"It's a cause we very much believe in," Blair said. "It's something we practice, and don't just talk the talk. In our personal lives we walk the walk and it's how we live. So anytime there's something new we can think of to go along with our views and ambitions, we tell our kids about it."
Justin Fuhrman, 20 and a junior at Penn State University Park, said initiatives like these and the fact that the band puts into action what they write and sing about is commendable.
"I think that it definitely makes their message stronger and a lot more believable," he said.
Fuhrman plans to attend the show Sunday, and has been a fan of both Rise Against and A Day To Remember for a while. He added that he's glad a tour like this will make a stop in the local area.
"This is the music I like to listen to in my free time," he said. "It might not be the most popular [genre] with students for students or for the community, but they definitely have a big following."
Though he's never seen these bands perform live, Fuhrman said he expects they'll put on a good show and provide different interpretations of songs than what can be heard on their albums.
"I've never come away from an alternative rock concert upset," he said. "I have big expectations and I've never been let down."
Tabitha Rinehart, 23 and a Penn State University Park senior has seen the band perform live before and said Rise Against is one of her favorite bands.
"They're different than a lot of other bands," she said. "I don't want to say rebellious, but they definitely go against the grain."
Rinehart said Rise Against will sometimes reference their political stances in onstage "tangents" during their set, but she believes students at Penn State and fans of the band will be open to this.
"Their fans get so into their music," she said. "I've been to a lot of different concerts, and I've never seen fans get so into the music like fans of Rise Against are."
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.