Rise Against: Interview with Tim McIlrath

Rise AgainstMelodic hardcore champs Rise Against have been slaves to the road since the July 2006 release of The Sufferer And The Witness, and they aren’t quite done with it yet. Going from headlining Warped Tour last summer, to traveling all over North America supporting other bands, to departing on a brief European stint, they’ve been everywhere—except on their own in the US!

Realizing “it was high time to do that,” Rise Against are about to embark on a full-fledged summer headlining tour, so we caught up with vocalist/guitarist Tim McIlrath while he and band mates Zach Blair (guitar), Joe Principe (bass), and Brandon Barnes (drums) were gearing up for the journey, as well as the release of their very own limited edition Vans sneaker.

What have Rise Against been up to?

We are in Chicago in the studio right now doing a cover of ‘Making Christmas’ off the Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack for the reissue next year. They put bonus material on it each time they reissue [it], like, I think last year Marilyn Manson did a song, and Fiona Apple and She Wants Revenge. So this time, we signed up—we’re all big Tim Burton fans. So, we’re in the middle of doing that now, which is pretty interesting—we’re not used to transcribing Danny Elfman masterpieces! It’s really intense, we were really unnerved by it for a second there, but it’s coming together.

How was the European tour you just came back from?

Really good, probably our biggest European/UK tour yet. We’ve been going there for five/six years now and every time we went it got better and better, and this time it was just a lot of fun, not just because there were so many kids at all our shows— we had some of our biggest shows ever out there—but also we brought The Bronx with us, who are an amazing, incredible live band, and really good dudes. And we brought The Cancer Bats out with us as well, who are really good kids, and a really good band too. We just had a lot of fun aside of how good the shows were.

Tell me about your ‘This is Noise’ summer tour.

It’s gonna be us and Silverstein and Comeback Kid all summer. Then we’re gonna have four other bands rotating in and out of the lineup: from Only Crime, Smoke Or Fire, to 2 Cents, to a band called Holy Roman Empire from Chicago—who, all the female vocals on our latest record are done by the singer Emily.

They’re all friends of ours, it’s gonna be a really good time. We’ve known Silverstein for a long time. We took them out on one of their first tours years ago when we were just a small band. We met them when they were really young, and they’ve just accomplished a lot in a short number of years.

And Comeback Kid: love those dudes. We’ve already done a tour with them—they’re part of the Blast Room family: people who record in Fort Collins with Bill [Stevenson], and their new record is killer, really a step up. I saw their video on ‘Headbangers Ball’ a couple nights ago and it was so good. I’m even more excited to go out with them this summer now!

Do you choose your own support?

We always choose the bands we tour with. It’s always worked out for us. If we’re headlining a tour we handpick each one of those bands because we like those bands, or they’re friends of ours we want to hang out with.