To survive, let alone thrive, in the harsh musical landscape and evade the fate of disposability is an achievement in and of itself. Ignite, however, has not only succeeded in said endeavor, but also managed to transcend modern musical conventionality in the process.
More than half-a-decade transpired since the band released their last album, A Place Called Home , and the release of its latest achievement, Our Darkest Days. Amazingly enough, for the duration of their studio absence, Ignite not only maintained their staunch following, but also managed to attract legions of new fans to their shows both at home and abroad.
“We hadn't put out a record in a while,” says bassist Brett Rasmussen, “and during that time, the scene was getting bigger and bigger; and by default, we were getting bigger without even putting a record out. We would play bigger concerts in 2004 than we did when our new record was out in 2000, and that was just basically because the whole punk rock and hardcore scene was getting bigger around us. It really benefited us a lot.”
Arguably, however, the band's success sans record owed much to its intense touring schedule. Nary a year passes when Ignite doesn't pay a visit to Europe, Australia or South America – not to mention their native U.S.
“We just got back from Argentina, Chile, Brazil and a bunch of places down there. Not a lot of bands go there, so people are super stoked when you come out,” remarks Rasmussen.
With Our Darkest Days still in its ascension phase (the album's less than eight months old), touring has been a staple for the band as of late, having just wrapped up a 13-show tour with Pennywise and the Circle Jerks, and a European tour in the works. As a testament to the album's undeniable appeal, fans everywhere seem to be embracing Our Darkest Days wholeheartedly.
“When we first started touring off the new record, people wanted to hear the new stuff. We started playing the old stuff, and people didn't seem that into the old stuff. They wanted to hear the new stuff, and that's pretty cool for a band that's been around 13 years,” Rasmussen says.
“A lot of times when I go to see some of my favorite bands … they're a little bit older. Sometimes their newer stuff really doesn't stand up to the older material. A lot of times when you go see bands that have been around a lot, you want to just hear their old stuff 'cause it's the classics. It's cool that people want to hear our brand new stuff over anything we've done. For me, that's a great testament that the stuff that we're writing is our best material.”
The reasons for the success of Our Darkest Days are indeed multifaceted, with much of the album's triumph attributed to the band's sheer musical prowess and the contributions of producer Cameron Webb (Social Distortion, Motorhead).
“I think Cameron really got the best out of us. Cameron's not going to sit there and write the songs for you. He's gonna tell you what's good and what's not. Cameron wouldn't let us bring any song into the recording studio that wasn't ready to go, and we sat there and we made demos and we listened to it,” recalls Rasmussen.
“He came down to our rehearsal studio way before we recorded the record, listened to the songs and gave a lot of input from really early on. Just having somebody there guiding you through and helping you to sift through what's really quality material and what can be improved on was probably the biggest help.”
Rasmussen continues, “I think when you're writing, sometimes you get stuck and a little bit lost in your own material, and you're not 100 percent sure what stuff is the best and what stuff can be improved upon. When you have an outside source that just works on music every day of the year … [with] different bands, different great artists – he hears different songs.
“He knows what works as far as songs or not. So it's really cool having him come in and help guide us through this whole thing. As far as being in the studio, he's just a master of the entire recording process. He's so talented when it comes to actually recording and getting the best sounds. From top to bottom, it was the best musical experience we've ever had working with somebody.”
In keeping with the theme of musical optimism, Ignite borrowed more from personal life experience, as opposed to political, social and environmental critiques to create the lyrical foundation of Our Darkest Days .
“I think this record is a little bit more on the personal side of things than we've done before, which was kind of cool 'cause I think a lot of times people can relate to that stuff a little bit more than if everything's political, social or environmentally-based. I think we've reached more people this time than we've done on our previous records,” states Rasmussen.
Judging by the band's sold out shows and ever-increasing worldwide following, Rasmussen's assessment couldn't be more accurate. Our Darkest Days is rapidly becoming a guiding light for both old and new fans alike.Our Darkest Days is currently available. Ignite will perform March 13 at the Avalon in Hollywood. For more information, visit www.igniteband.com