Good Riddance is back. In 2012 the band came back to the scene playing shows after their break up in 2007. And now 2015 their new album “Peace In Our Time” was released through Fat Wreck Chords. So when Good Riddance graced the Groezrock main stage we at RMP took some time to sit down with vocalist Russ Rankin to discuss their latest album and the influences that led to creating the new album.
- Hello,Congratulations with the new album “Peace In Our Time”. You recently played the first shows with the new album in the States, how were those?
They were good. We played Hollywood, San Diego, Santa Barbara. Those are all really good spots for us. They are not far from home. We expected them to be good. They were technically record release shows although the record was not released yet. We played some new songs and they went down well.
- Your previous release “My Republic” almost dates nine years back. The band took a hiatus from 2007-2012 and now a new album. How does it feel to go on tour with new material?
It feels great. In 2012 we started playing shows again and it was exciting to revisit our songs. See our fans again and get a chance to play. After a little bit of that we felt the urge to create something new. So we started throwing around some new ideas and that is how the new record came about.
- In previous records you often used quotes and samples as an intro. The new album doesn't contain any of these. A deliberate choice or coincidence?
We didn't use any on “My Repbulic”. We sort of felt that we were guilty of overdoing it in the past. We wanted to get away from it on this album, because I'm the always the one that comes up with those. On this album, the guys asked about a week before the record was mixed to come up with them. I said to them that I would be happy to search for things if I had more time. It was last-minute. “My Republic”, I think, was more by design. We wanted to try to get away from them.
- In the past you used quotes from Noam Chomsky for one. If you were to quote some influential contemporary influences right now, who would you name?
The advantage of Chomsky is the stuff he writes, there are instances of him speaking live that you can have access too. A lot of people that might have things to say that I may have read somewhere. I don't know if it would be so easy to find them recorded, maybe on YouTube or so. Using Chomsky would be great or people like that; people that are speaking politically and socially for me. From a part of our society that is not routinely heard from in the States.
- Good Riddance has always been affiliated with certain organisations. From Sea Shepherds to PETA to more political subjects. Any recent organisation that has gained your attention and deserves some promotion?
Planned Parenthood in the US. We're living in a country right now where State rights. It's the bigger problem I think. We have 50 States and each one is different and the population is different and these socio-economic needs are different in every state. It's impossible for the US government to say “This is how it's going to be everywhere.” It's not realistic. In the same time people on the right or libertarians are taking States rights to this other extreme where they’re being able to actually block out the greater majority of legislation. In our state that means denying women access to health care, denying women access to save legal abortions, denying gay people the right to vote, all kind of crazy things. Planned Parenthood, they are certain part of our country where they are physically under attack, being bombed, being vandalised. They are being defunded. Women have to go further and further away from where they live. It's not just about abortion, it's about health care. It's about the right and access to adequate healthcare. To live in a country that's so regressive. There could be so much progress and so much regression at the same time that it is confusing to me. I think Planned Parenthood is a champion for progressive healthcare especially geared towards women and reproductive choice. I think there's someone who should be aided. That's my opinion.
- How do you stand on population growth and its related problems?
I agree. That's another thing about Planned Parenthood. It's more of a concept. Just because people are naturally fertile doesn't mean they need to procreate. It's interesting in the areas of our country where Planned Parenthood exists, where there's more progressive sex education in the schools, rates of unwanted pregnancies are lower.Where there's really regressive Christian based right wing slant towards the education system, unwanted pregnancies are up. I think there's a direct correlation. I think education and getting people the education and choices to be able to figure that stuff out. There's a lot of craziness that goes on. There are lots of parts of the world where we can't do anything about it as Americans. But we can do something where we live. The first thing we have to do is remove all of this fundamentalist Christian propaganda from our schools and education systems. I don't ever want to tell you or anyone else, don't believe this, don't believe that. I believe people should have the ability to worship whatever they want, even when it doesn't make sense to me. But in this country there is a group that believes that their way is the only way but if I make a different choice then I'm attacking them. Like with same sex marriage. People are terrified that if gay people get married, that someday these people are going to wake up one day gay. It's this really defensive knee jerk reaction. I'm for moving forward. Things evolve, things change. When we lose the ability to adapt we lose our way as a country.
- Pretty much all of your albums have been on Fat Wreck Chords, what makes Fat so special to stick with them?
Fat Wreck was the first label that gave us a chance and has supported us from day one. It has never given us a reason to be dissatisfied and look elsewhere. It's like a family to us. Our band was never that popular. We never had major labels coming around, they left us alone. Either they know we wouldn't sign or we were never popular enough to bother. It's easy for us, it's always been Fat Wreck Chords.
- In one of the new songs, “Take It To Hear”, there's a line: ‘Something more than fashion before we burn it all away.’ What is this line about?
That song is about animal rights. Sometimes in punk it's trendy to sort of support animal rights even if they don't really. I had to be careful writing it, it don't ever want to come across like some sort of fascist. You have to be this way or else… That song is all about pursuing an animal cruelty free lifestyle. It's cool to wear a t-shirt, it's cool to have a sticker on your car but it's even cooler to really live that way. It's more than fashion, it's a lifestyle. In my home state of California we're having the worst drought ever right now. So people are like don't wash your car, don't water your lawn. Okay, that makes sense but the biggest use of water in our state is to raise alfalfa and hay so animals can eat it so we can kill them. It doesn't make any sense to me. This is naive, it will never happen but if everybody switched to a plant-based diet there would be no drought, there would be no hunger. We're screaming and yelling about this drought and the answer is right in front of us. That song is 100% about that. I don't want to come across as a hardliner. Like have you seen that TV show ‘Mad Men’. Everyone in every scene is smoking. When I was a little kid you could smoke on airplanes. A lot less people smoke now. That's what my hope is, that eating meat becomes like that. That people just realise and just stop. I want it to become like smoking. Where people are still free to do it, they ought to be free to do what they want. But they are able to think about and make these choices.
– David Marote