Celebrating the one year anniversary of their chart-topping ninth album Nowhere Generation, Rise Against today returns with the surprise release of a new EP, Nowhere Generation II, via Loma Vista Recordings. The five song collection—written and recorded alongside Nowhere Generation and featuring production by Bill Stevenson (The Descendents, Black Flag)—is out digitally worldwide now alongside the premiere of a new, Ryan Valdez-directed video for its propulsive lead single “Last Man Standing.” “‘Last Man Standing’ was a way of expressing some frustration with our world in regards to exploitation, public alienation and human inequality,” explains Valdez. “As you see in the video, we are fed through this race of survival. Only to be taken down, regardless of our success or efforts. Almost as if the game was rigged, designed to set us up for failure.”
The triumphantly rousing song picks up the lyrical baton of Nowhere Generation’s “Talking To Ourselves” with a full-throated reminder of what could happen if those in power continue to ignore the voice of the people. “I think of Rise Against as dystopian art,” says McIlrath. “Like any good dystopian art endeavor, you’re singing about the world and what it might be like if we keep going down the road we’re going down. It’s the inevitable conclusion of what would happen if we keep making the same decisions. That’s what dystopian art is designed to do, to make you realize that and inspire you to make some changes. ‘Last Man Standing’ is looking down that road and trying to paint a picture of what it looks like.”
Continuing a critical dialogue between Rise Against themselves, their fans, and the world at large, the new EP looks beyond its full-length counterpart’s scrutiny of the chronic social, economic, and political instability and inequality that pervades the modern age. II is as biting as it is hopeful, and is a further testament to the resonance of a band that continues to defy the status quo of modern rock. “We’d written 16 songs for this album and then we decided to break them apart,” explains McIlrath. “Not only could the music get lost, but the message could get lost in asking people to listen to this all at once. I think this is, hopefully, a more effective way to give these issues the platform and the spotlight that they rightly deserve. We wanted to hold onto these and give them to our fans when we feel like they’ve had time to properly digest this first batch, so these songs were the aces up our sleeves.”
The picture Rise Against paints is one of a generation younger than them struggling to find a path forward in an increasingly inhospitable world. The impulse to dig into these issues was spawned by McIlrath meeting fans all across the globe—from the United States to Australia to Japan to Germany—and each of them were articulating similar apprehensions. “They were communicating the same anxieties and fears about their lives and what tomorrow is going to look like. Those fears and anxieties were all connected no matter what language they were speaking. I just couldn’t ignore it after a while,” he says.
II closes with "Holding Patterns," a song where the fire in Rise Against’s belly comes roaring even further out. Parts of the track recall the breakneck, hardcore-inspired moments that typified the band’s early years, but now feature the powerful maturity of a band still firing on all cylinders. The result is both an impactful tune and a prescient reminder when, at the top of each chorus, McIlrath sings, “When we are barely holding on, we hold each other.” The refrain encapsulates the journey Rise Against has been on for their entire career, but it also serves as a succinct reminder of what II is grappling with in each and every song, and provides a bit of light in the all-consuming darkness.