Rise Against plans to have something a bit different to offer fans for during its 2012 headlining tour.
"It's a different show than last year -- that's kind of our goal," frontman Tim McIlrath tells Billboard.com about the trek, which gets under way Jan. 17 in Austin, Texas, and runs through Feb. 5, followed by European dates in late February and March. After touring heavily during 2011 behind its sixth album, "Endgame" (including a run supporting the Foo Fighters), McIlrath says the Chicago punk rockers are "working on a new set now, kind of starting from scratch" and hope to dig a bit deeper into their catalog for next year's shows.
"It's a tricky balance, as any band will tell you," he explains. "You have the big songs that people want to hear, and then you have the songs you would like to bring out for your older fans. Then you have songs that maybe you love but when you play them in front of 5,000 people, they get bored. So you're constantly gauging which songs make the show flow more. But I would love to dust off some of the old classics and play them for our old fans and just sort of show our new fans some of our roots."
McIlrath says Rise Against is also hoping to glean a few more new fans courtesy of tour openers A Day to Remember. "They're kind of a powerhouse right now, touring the states," he says. "They remind me of us when we were younger. And I think that a band like that has a lot of fans that aren't necessarily at Rise Against shows, and vice versa, so I'm excited. The goal is to get all of our fans in the same rooms and just kid of see what happens. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Rise Against will have something new to play in the new year as well -- a cover of Bob Dylan's "The Ballad of Hollis Brown," which the group recorded for "Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan," a four-CD set that will be released January 30 to celebrate Amnesty International's 50th anniversary. McIlrath says the story about a destitute South Dakota farmer who kills his family and then himself fits nicely within Rise Against's own political and socially conscious approach.
"It's not only a cool song...it also has a lot of contemporary parallels to what's happening today in America," McIlrath notes. "It's fun when you find those other pieces of the puzzle in somebody else's music and you can not just cover a song just because somebody asked you to do it but to also be able to put your signature on it a little bit and have it be part of the story you're telling, too. We just ran it through the machine of Rise Against; it's got some really quiet, whispered moments and it's got some brutal, shredded pears where you can feel the heaviness of the song and the lyrics. It's my favorite cover we've ever done, and I didn't anticipate that when we went to do a Bob Dylan song."
McIlrath and company expect to keep touring and pumping "Endgame" well into 2012. The album is Rise Against's highest-charting ever, debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, and the group is also planning a fourth single to follow the current "Satellite," although the track hasn't yet been determined.
"It's sort of a big of relief, I guess," McIlrath says of the album's success. "We went away for awhile after (2008's 'Appeal to Reason'), and you wonder if the fans will still be there. Like fans everywhere, they're constantly changing and getting older, and you wonder if you're still relevant to them. So it was nice to have the album come out like it did and see that, OK, instead of forgetting about us they're waiting for us. I feel like we've reached a core of people who keep coming back, which is exciting."