Ignite: The Biggest Indie Band You Never Heard About

The Orange County, Ca., band Ignite has been doing it their way for more than a decade. Over the years Zoli Teglas (vocals), Brett Rasmussen (bass), Brian Balchack (guitarist), and Craig Anderson (drums) have accumulated a hand full of LPs and a modicum of EPs. The post-punk, post-grunge, post-whatever-you-want-to-label-it sounds of Ignite harness rudiments of punk, hardcore, alternative, and even (to a lesser degree) heavy metal.

It has been nearly six years since their last release, but now Ignite has unleashed their latest full length Our Darkest Days. As with albums prior, Ignite is also laboring to help more causes. Teglas’ brother is a wildlife preservation veterinarian, and in support Ignite has fought for such causes as environmental concerns and vegetarianism. They continue their unwavering efforts with helping earth-minded organizations such as Earth First, Doctors Without Borders, and Sea Shepherds.

Bassist Brett Rasmussen took the time between everything going on with Ignite to talk about their new Abacus Records release Our Darkest Days.

Innocent Words: Ignite has been around for more then a decade now. Did you think it would ever last this long?
Brett Rasmussen: When we started this in 1993, I wasn’t sure that it would last through the summer. It seemed like something fun at the time. Once we really started writing songs, I could see the potential. But to imagine 13 years later that we would be touring all over the world is a little amazing.

IW: How do you think the band has progressed over the years?
Rasmussen: I think that we have become much better songwriters. When I listen to our early CDs now, I personally hear an improvement in songwriting from album to album. That makes me happy to see an improvement.

IW: Ignite’s sound has always been hard to put in a box since you incorporate so many influences. With your new album, Our Darkest Days, the same could be said. How does everyone in the band bring in different ideas to make a new record?
Rasmussen: There is no single formula when Ignite writes songs. Sometimes we all work on the material together. Sometimes one person writes the entire music and lyrics. Most of the time a person will have a big portion of the music written, then the others will help finish it. Zoli generally writes a big portion of the lyrics and melodies but on Our Darkest Days, Nik and Brett contributed vocal lyrics and melodies as well.

IW: It’s been six years between Ignite albums. May I be so bold to ask, what the hell took so long?
Rasmussen: Over the past five or six years we have been touring (new places like Brazil and Australia and of course Europe festivals in the summer), songwriting and recording. We toured for three years for the last record. Then we had to find another label. Then write a record and get the CD pressed to go worldwide. Time goes fast!

IW: Ignite has been known for not only music but also speaking out for causes. You’ve done countless benefit shows. Where does this passion to help come from?
Rasmussen: A lot of people ask, “Don’t you guys get tired of fighting for the same causes?” To stop addressing issues or ignore them after the years that we have spent creating awareness would be a cowardly move. There are always going to be new terrible problems in the world, and there need to be people willing to address these situations and try to create awareness whether it is a small problem like the extinction of the Californian Brown Pelican to a bigger issue, like the current state of the U.S. government or the problems in the Middle East.

IW: You have not only influenced this writer, but many fans. How long do you think you will keep this up, not only the band but giving back to communities?
Rasmussen: I hope Our Darkest Days will give us the chance to create another one. We love writing music and touring to support the CDs. In fact, we have already started writing songs for the next CD.

IW: Even though you have released five full lengths and several singles, you are still considered “underground.” What drives you to keep this going?
Rasmussen: The idea that we can write songs that will affect people’s lives. That is really inspiring. It is also amazing to see the process of writing a song on acoustic guitar in a bedroom, then taking it to band practice and working on it with the band. Then we record it. Press it and a few months later we travel halfway around the world to have another person sing the lyrics back to you from the crowd! What a great experience.