IGNITE is a punk band from California, who basically helped pave the way for punk rock bands everywhere. True to punk fashion, they’re not afraid to back down and call out injustices in the world around them today. The brand new record, A War Against You, is dropping January 8 through Century Media. It’s everything you would expect from a band like Ignite. Brett Rasmussen, Ignite’s bass player, took some time to sit down and answer a few questions with Music Unlabeled. You can read the exclusive Q and A below.
Music Unlabeled: This is your first album in ten years. What inspired you to get back into the studio and make A War Against You? How did it feel being back in the studio?
Brett Rasmussen: It feels great because we originally started working on new songs back in 2008-09 but then some things got delayed in the process. Zoli joined Pennywise for three years, myself and the others in Ignite were playing in a few other bands as well. But there was always the intent of writing, recording and putting out the next Ignite album, we just didn’t know when we were going to have enough time to put the necessary work to make the album the right way. Like I mentioned above, we had already started writing some material a few years back but it wasn’t meant to happen at that time. Things happen for a reason, and in 2013 when we all were free and able to put in the time to write and record this album, we did. We were a little unclear at the beginning on the direction of the album. We wrote over 40 songs for the record but once we started working with our producer we could really start seeing which songs we going to be the strongest for the album. Once you have 2-3 songs that you like, you really get inspired to complete the project!
MU: The music industry has obviously changed in the last ten years. What influence did those changes have on the actual creation of A War Against You?
BA: I don’t think the music industry changes had any influence on anything that we did on the creative side. At the end of the day the only thing that really matters is writing great songs. That is the sole focus when we get together and collaborate on music. All the songs have to be great. All the songs have to move us. All the songs have to inspire us first before we could even think about putting them on an album. All the other things that your record company needs you to do, things online, promotion or anything…none of that matters without a great album first.
MU: Have you guys toured or performed at all in the ten year break, or will your upcoming tour in January be your grand return to the stage?BA: We have been touring every year since the last album came out. Even the years that Zoli was doing Pennywise we figured out how to squeeze in Ignite tour dates etc. A couple years ago Century Media Records put out our “Live Dvd” so we had a bit of promotion around that time as well. Bands have to tour to stay relevant and connect with the fans.
MU: For people who haven’t heard the album yet, try to summarize the message behind A War Against You and/or what the new album is about.
BA: I would not say that the album is a concept record or anything like that, but there are themes that have some consistency with our previous work. The lyrical content on Ignite albums deal with issues involving personal, political, environmental and social topics. If you know Ignite songs from the past this is very clear. This album, I would say follows pretty close to the categories that I just mentioned, but we delve into a lot of new issues and current events that are going on in the world. There is never a shortage of issues to write about on the planet that we live on.
MU: A War Against You addressed some of the biggest issues facing the world today. Was this an intentional decision, or did the songs just sort of happen?
BA: The lyrical content is always definitely intentional. However there were a few songs like “Alive” where Zoli was relating a story about his family from years ago and that story is directly relatable to what is going on in the world today.
MU: Obviously Zoli’s family’s immigration to America has been massively influential to his life and creative process, inspiring a few songs on A War Against You. What message do you hope that people who hear those songs take away from them?
BA: Zoli’s family emigrated from Hungary to the USA in the early 1960’s. They were escaping an impoverished country that was under the harsh communist rule. There was no opportunity, no hope, no future in their eyes. So, they decided to uproot everything and leave their homeland in search of opportunity, freedoms and the chance to have a future (sounds familiar to what is going on today). They came to the States by boat and were put on a train to California from New York. It was the opportunity that they had dreamed of. It’s interesting how this exact same thing is still happening today all over the world. People fleeing their war torn countries to try and better their lives and their families’ lives. People are looking for opportunities that they would not have in their own destroyed homeland. It’s a vicious cycle and the common citizens are always the victims. Maybe we should stop bombing people’s homes. Maybe war isn’t the answer to world’s problems.
MU: Several songs on the album addressed the issue of global warming. Do you think that this is an issue that will be realistically dealt with in the foreseeable future?
BA: A lot our political leaders were recently all together in Paris for this event called “COP21” dealing with some of these issues. Hopefully these meetings like this are taken seriously and it’s not just to spew rhetoric. There needs to be more awareness and concern for our earth….it really is as simple as that. We need to take responsibility for this planet that we live on. We really need to look for fuel alternatives other than fossil fuels. We are so advanced in this world with so much technology, but we seem to be stuck in this fossil fuel lifestyle because there is so much money behind it. Hopefully things will change, I have hope!
MU: Do you guys have plans to make another album once everything for A War Against You is finished up? If so, what do you think your future album(s) will sound like?
BA: It would be great to get back in the recording studio soon to start the next album. We already have some ideas for some new songs, but it’s really difficult to make assumptions about music/song direction until we get in there with our producer Cameron Webb.