Being someone who contributes to a music zine, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that music is incredibly instrumental to who I am. I’ve got more favorite bands than I can count. However, Rise Against is one of the bands that just always seem relevant. Tim McIlrath, hands down, is an influential songwriter, and he even had the honor of singing the National Anthem at the White Sox home game opener in 2015. Being a gal who loves America as much as she does music, that’s a big deal.
Rise Against opened my doors to punk. I started listening to NOFX immediately after learning Rise Against’s first label contract was through Fat Mike. From there, I began listening to Against Me!, Bad Religion, Rancid, and so many more. Though I was a fan of Sick of it All before I started listening to Rise Against, I had no idea that Tim was influenced by Lou until he confessed that at a show in 2015 at The Stone Pony. Lou made an appearance, they sang together, unicorns appeared, it was magical.
Siren Song of the Counter Culture was the first Rise Against album I got, but I found “Survive” from The Sufferer & the Witness to be the most resonating. We all have problems. Anyone with a less than desirable background will tell you that is how you rise up from all the shit that makes you who you are, or as I like to say, “embrace the suck.”
“Life for you, has been less than kind. So, take a number, step in line. We’ve all been sorry, we’ve all been hurt. But how we survive is what makes us who we are.” -“Survive”
Rise Against has always been politically charged, and Tim’s lyrics are heavy with meaning. 2011’s Endgame featured “Make it Stop,” a song about suicide and bullying. He names a few gay teenagers who committed suicide in 2010 as a result of bullying in the breakdown, and the video shows the boys’ faces. Rutgers’ own Tyler Clementi is one of the young men named. For this song, they partnered with Dan Savage’s It Gets Better campaign. Aside from taking a stand against bullying, Rise Against has a fundraiser ongoing for the ACLU. All the proceeds from their “No Human is Illegal” shirt go to the organization. Tim has penned for The Huffington Post an article about environmentalists not being terrorists, appeared in one of Vevo’s “Why I Vote” videos, and has worked with Action for Animals.
Being active in your community is important. Music is important. Why not combine the two?