Unraveling old school punk

By James Keller

Being the new kid on the punk scene isn’t always a bad thing, explains Rise Against guitarist Dan Wleklinski.

"Being a new band, I think a lot of people are starving for new things," says Wleklinski, also known as Mr. Precision. Wleklinski started Rise Against in 1999 with former 88 Fingers Louie bandmate, bassist Joe Principe.

Being a young band certainly hasn’t hurt their progress so far. The band is currently on tour with big punk name NOFX, and even though they appear to have come out of nowhere, it may just be what audiences are looking for.

"You can love a band and hear a bunch of albums by them and then need something new, so I think we’re filling that void," says Wleklinski.

That void may not just be for new bands either. As Wleklinski points out, they’ve also created an image for themselves unlike most other bands in the scene.

"The lyrics are very positive in most cases," says Wleklinski of the bands vocalist Tim Mcilrath’s songwriting. "Tim is usually trying to push forward a positive outlook on a situation or a friendship or a relationship, which is something people need." Wleklinski adds that although this isn’t a new idea, most of the older punk bands seem to be singing about partying and having fun instead. The lyrics, according to Wleklinski, are something their audiences need; not to mention the band themselves.

"It totally helps when we look at Tim’s lyrics afterwards and it just adds that much more to our music," says Wleklinski.

Another thing that the Chicago-based band prides itself in is their musical range. On their debut release, The Unraveling, Rise Against showcases a unique punk style coupled with melodies and contrasts moving from loud fast songs to songs with outright hooks in the music and vocals.

"We like to call it melodic-hardcore because it’s heavy, but at the same time we do have melody in the voice and within the instruments," Wleklinski explains of their sound, which he describes as very heavy guitar-driven rock with all the catchiness of more popular, lighter big-label punk-names. "It seems to keep people’s interest. We’re not a band that has every song that sounds the same and there’s a lot of bands that do that."

This sound can be seen in songs such as "Everchanging," which, while keeping the punk feel close at hand, throws out catchy guitar riffs and vocals. And although the band isn’t currently receiving radio play, Wleklinski thinks that the possibility he’s not far off, especially for "Everchanging," but at the same time isn’t really concerned.

"It’s hard to tell listening to what’s on the radio," says Wleklinski of the prospect. "We don’t really make radio songs–we kind of write whatever we like and if people like it and think that it would sound good on the radio that would be cool, but if not, oh well."

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