Interview: Ignite

By Chris Robinson

Formed in 1993, Orange County hardcore heroes Ignite are known for their socially and politically aware songwriting, as well as a phenomenal display of melody. Following the release of latest album ‘A War Against You’, we caught up with bass player Brett Rasmussen to discuss punk rock, social issues and charity.

‘A War Against You’ was released 10 years after your previous album, ‘[Our Darkest Days’. What have you guys been up to over the last few years, and what influenced the decision to come back now?

We originally started working on new songs back in ’07-‘08 but then some things got delayed in the process. Zoli joined Pennywise for three years, myself and the others in Ignite were playing in bands like Into Another, Strife and Nations Afire. 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 be free enough to put the necessary work in, to make the album the right way.

We started writing songs again in early 2013 once our schedules kind of cleared up and we entered the recording studio in May 2014 and finished recording the new Ignite album last year.

You’re known for being very socially and politically conscious, what issues did you want to address or highlight with ‘A War Against You’?

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 generally 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 like the worldwide immigration issue, bullying, decimation of land for profit, racial issues, etc… There is never a shortage of issues to write about on the planet that we live on.

Issues such as the environment and vegetarianism have featured quite prominently on previous records, what do you think the real pressing issues are in the current climate?

You said it. Climate. There needs to be even more awareness of fossil fuel use, the rise in the earth’s temperature/climate, clean water. Do a little research yourself, read some environmental blogs, check out Earth First, Sea Shepherds and groups like that if you want to hear about some stuff that major media doesn’t touch.

You’ve used your platform to support several organisations and charities in the past, how important do you think it is for musicians to use their platform to raise awareness of these organisations?

For us it is important. However, we believe if you put in the years of work to be in a touring band then nobody should tell you what you should say or what message you should spread. Some bands are just out the to have fun and party.

For Ignite however that wouldn’t work, that’s not how we are wired. We feel we have been given the opportunity to share a positive message to people around the world, to inspire people and to possibly help open the eyes of people on subjects and issues that maybe they haven’t heard of or haven’t thought about.

What do you think about the current state of punk rock and hardcore? What new bands have you come across that you feel are really flying the flag for the genre at the minute?

That’s an interesting question. I think harder music is getting more and more popular every year. When we started Ignite, the big Green Day & Offspring explosion was happening, which opened a lot of doors for punk and hardcore bands. At the same time metal bands were getting bigger and bigger with the mainstream success of Metallica and bands like that.

All of that has helped make metal/punk/hardcore more accessible to everyone. It seems to continue to grow all around us which in turned has helped Ignite grown along the way too, without even putting a new album out in 10 years.

We have enjoyed listening to and playing with bands like Wisdom In Chains, Turnstile and Broken Teeth.

What are your plans for the remainder of 2016?

We just finished a European Tour with Terror, H2O, Wisdom In Chains, Iron Reagan and a bunch of other great bands! We are making plans now for the rest of the year, I’m sure we will get over to Europe for some festivals and hopefully get out on a US tour soon.

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