Madison Rising is an American patriotic post-grunge and hard rock band. Formed in 2011 by Richard Mgrdechian, and referring to themselves as the United States' "most patriotic" rock band, it is led by Air Force veteran MSGT Rio Hiett (Ret). The band is named for the street in Hoboken, New Jersey where their recording studio was located, and for former president James Madison.
The band describes themselves as being "pro-patriotic", have cited bands such as Creed as an influence, and have frequently incorporated themes involving conservatism and the United States Armed Forces into their music.
Madison Rising gained some prominence in 2014, following the band's poorly-received performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a NASCAR event in February, and the announcement that it would perform the theme song for Amazing America with Sarah Palin, a television program starring former Governor of Alaska and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Madison Rising was the creation of New York City entrepreneur Richard Mgrdechian, who chose the members of the band by placing ads on Craigslist and YouTube, and then holding "endless" auditions in 2011. Dave Bray, the original lead singer for the band, enlisted in the United States Navy at the age of 18. Before being shipped off, Dave found an interest in music, and formed a band in his garage his senior year of high school. According to Bray, "It was my last stitch effort at rebellion before signing my life away." The band was first named after Madison Street in Hoboken, New Jersey, where their studio, Water Music Recorders, was located. Later on, the band also acknowledged its name as being in honor of U.S. founding father James Madison, because they wanted to "bring back patriotism and the belief system from a time when the Constitution was being written". While other names such as "Authors of Liberty" and "Soldiers for Freedom" were considered, Madison Rising felt the most "rock and roll" of them all, evoking imagery of him "rising from the grave".
Madison Rising, the band's self-titled debut album, was released in October 2011 via CD Baby. In early December 2011, the band attempted to procure a permit for a live "Take Back Wall Street" performance in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, in response to the Occupy Wall Street protests. The permit was ultimately denied by the park's ownership, Brookfield Properties. Two months later, the band played a short show for Occupy Congress in January 2012. Lead singer Dave Bray said that, to his shock, were "met with a warm welcome" during the band's five-song set before several hundred Occupy demonstrators. Their second album, American Hero, was released via CD Baby in November 2013 and is dedicated to military members, police, firefighters, and other first responders. It reached Amazon.com's top 100 and reached #1 on its Classic Rock list.
In March 2014, the band announced they had been chosen to provide the theme song for Amazing America, a Sarah Palin-hosted program on the US cable network Sportsman Channel. In keeping with the show's subject matter, the theme song's lyrics contain references to nature, flags, glory, dogs, horses, trucks, and guns.
In early April 2014, former band member Alex Bodnar initiated a civil lawsuit in Brooklyn against band manager Richard Mgrdechian for owed "wages, royalties and [production] credit". According to the New York Post, Mgrdechian would not comment on the pending litigation except to describe Bodnar as a "disgruntled employee" who had "breached his contract." The band performed a "Patriot Party" concert in Anderson, South Carolina on April 5, 2014, for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. They played another "Patriot Party" on April 18 in Bunkerville, Nevada, for supporters of controversial rancher Cliven Bundy. On September 17, 2014, Madison Rising played a free concert in Philadelphia in front of Independence Hall, in celebration of Constitution Day.
Madison Rising's style has been compared to bands such as Creed, Nickelback, and Stone Temple Pilots; Bray noted that bands such as Creed and Nickelback "were the soundtrack of our generation for a while", and that he was not ashamed by the comparisons. The band describes themselves as being "constitutional" and "pro-patriotic", and have even referred to themselves as being "America's most patriotic rock band" in promotion. The band has also paid tribute to the United States Armed Forces in its albums, going as far as recording a music video for its arrangement of the "Marines' Hymn" for the 239th birthday of the United States Marine Corps.
Madison Rising's original songs incorporate political themes, with a particular emphasis on conservatism; "Come to the Ready" contains lyrics critical of Barack Obama, alluding to the "re-election of an antichrist" and describing him as a "liar". Mgrdechian explained that the "antichrist" lyric was meant to "highlight our belief that he doesn't have our country’s best interests in mind and is in fact doing a lot to hurt us in the long run, in particular turning Americans against one another, which is the last thing we need right now", rather than from a religious standpoint.
Jonathan Widran of Allmusic described their "socially conscious aesthetic" as being "reminiscent of the pointed folk music of the '60s—even though they are presumably on the other side of the political fence", while a writer for The New York Post described the band as the "Monkees of conservatism", asking readers to "just think of them as Rage For the Machine".
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