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Rise Against turns trials into strength

The group has survived lineup changes, tours

Joe Principe, bassist for Rise Against, says his band did things a bit backward when it signed with the Fat Wreck Chords label.

"We signed on without a demo or anything like that," Principe said during a telephone interview from his home in Chicago. "So we were thrown into a situation where it was do or die.

"When we formed the band a little more than two years ago, we had some expectations of what we wanted to do. We had our sights set on touring full-time and recording albums. I do feel we would have been better off recording our own EP or seven-inch (record) before we got signed, but we've managed, and we're fine now."

Rise Against will perform tonight with Strung Out and Rufio at Bricks, 579 W. 200 South. Doors open at 6 p.m.; the music will begin at 7 p.m.

The band — Principe, vocalist Tim McLirath and Brandon Barnes — formed with guitarist Dan Wieklinski in 1999. Its official debut album, "The Unravelling," was released later that year, and the band went on tour. At that point, the group realized it needed to make some changes.

Wieklinski, who played with Principe in the band 88 Fingers Louis, left and was replaced by Kevin White. Then White left last year and was replaced by another guitarist, Todd (he doesn't use a last name), who cut his teeth in another Chicago band, Synnecrosis.

"The lineup changes were definitely a setback to us," Principe said with a laugh. "But Todd's a team player. In fact, he learned our songs in two days so he could hit the road with us earlier this year. And the upside is the fact that we all still like each other."

One of Rise Against's highlights was touring Europe this past spring. "It was a humbling experience," said Principe, citing Bad Religion, Sick of It All and Bad Brains as some of his musical influences. "We had to pinch ourselves every day because we just couldn't believe we were touring Europe. And that we were opening shows for my idols, like Bad Religion and Sick of It All."

The next thing on the Rise Against list is a return to the studio. "After this tour, which will end sometime in the fall, we'll start recording a new record," he said. "Then we're going to see if we can get to Japan and Australia — the two places we didn't get to this time around. And, hopefully, we'll be headlining that tour. That will help us see if all this touring as a secondary act has paid off."

In preparation for this new chapter in the band's schedule, Principe said he and his mates play new songs every now and then. "We've got a couple of songs that we wrote for an upcoming compilation (on Go Kart Records). We don't have time to try things out during sound-check, because we're the second band on the roster. But we play around with an acoustic guitar on new ideas. We have a lot of songs that don't have any lyrics."