Interview by Leslie Terhorst
Photography by Andre Badenhorst

Google the name Rise Against and you’ll see them listed in the Urban Dictionary. Definition describes; “Rise Against, One of the best punk bands ever. Awesome, heartfelt lyrics ranging from love to politics to life in general, loud pounding voices and amazing drums.” I couldn’t describe them more perfectly if I would have submitted it myself? 

It’s been exactly seven years since Rise Against graced the cover of Revolt In Style.  Since then there’s been a lot of changes for the band. Changes in record labels, band members, causes to fight against, became vegetarians, and released three albums. Two studio releases “Appeal to Reason” & “Endgame.” Plus the release of 26 tracks of resolve, lesser-known recordings and covers appropriately titled “Long Forgotten Songs: B-Sides & Covers. (2000-2013).” Three of the songs on this latest album were released as singles. “Death Blossoms” for DLC on Guitar Hero: World Tour on 3/12/09, “Grammatizator” on 10/20/09, and “Sight Unseen” released on the Internet at about the same time. As of December 2010, the three songs had not been released anywhere else, until now. Listening to this album you can hear their changes in styles, and the journey the band has taken through the years. Now after headlining the Vans Warped Tour – Europe in November, the band is finally sitting down together to start writing their 7th studio album. 

I was fortunate enough to connect with front man Tim McIlrath, and as a fan, I was a excited to hear what he’s been up to.

Revolt In Style: It’s taken RA just about 13 years to formulate your latest compilation album ‘Long Forgotten Songs: B-Sides & Covers (2000–2013).’

When putting the 26 songs together, are there any particular ones that made you say “holy shit I totally forgot about this one?”

TIM: Absolutely. Forgetting about some of these songs actually played a big role in the idea behind this whole record. We figured if we were forgetting them, than it’s certain that our fans are too. Some of these songs we put together so quick, and they got shelved so fast, we never spent a lot of time listening to them as intently as you might listen to other songs that you make for or spend a lot of time mixing and mastering. So to bring them out was kind of like excavating a dig. Songs like ‘Sight Unseen’ or ‘Historia Calamitatum’ were fun to listen to with fresh ears.

RIS: In the span of your career, Rise Against has been through a lot of changes. Record labels, band mates, political outrage, and even music styles. What advice would you give to an up and coming band, knowing now what you didn’t know then?

TIM: Just follow your gut, create something that satisfies yourself, keep the people that were there first close, and always look at the big picture. Make the world come to you by creating something compelling, and understand that not everyone is going to get it. 

RIS: What are some of your most favorite band moments?

TIM: Sitting in the basement of the Discord house with Ian Mackaye as he tells you about the Minor Threat and Fugazi practices and what the house means to him. Playing on stage in LA last year with Tom Morello and Wayne Kramer of the MC5. Making records with Bill Stevenson in Colorado. Playing songs with Jackson Browne at a union Rally in Wisconsin. Singing Minor Threat covers with Dennis from Refused and Brian Baker in Sweden. Most of favorite moments happen when my hero’s have given me a nod of approval through collaborations like the ones above. They are full circle moments. 

RIS: I understand you are working on a new studio album for a release next year. That still in the works? What can we expect?

TIM: We are starting to churn out some ideas, we will take our time, and it will be done when it’s done. 

RIS: Where do you guys hang your hats these days?

TIM: We are spread out through Chicago, Texas and Colorado.

RIS: Is there somewhere you haven’t played that you would like to? 

TIM: There are so many places, but the Pacific Rim would be an adventure I look forward to taking. 

RIS: What’s the worst question you’ve ever been asked in an interview? (You cannot say this one)

TIM: What are you rising against?

RIS: On a personal level, how has being a musician hindered or helped in your life?

TIM: It’s really only helped me. If I wasn’t able to get these songs out I think I’d be an unhappy person. It’s therapy, it’s travel and adventure, its meeting really interesting people and creating things you never thought you could. The schedule can be daunting, but we pace ourselves. 

RIS: How do you give back? I mean, you’ve been so fortunate in your career is there any causes you feel so passionately about, that you are compelled to “give back?”

TIM: We’ve always been drawn to animal rights and environmental movements so we collaborate with organizations from that world often. 

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