Tim McIlrath Discusses How Punk Shows Inspired His Activism

By this point in time, we should all have a story about something we’ve learned from attending a gig – whether it be something you heard the band say on stage or something that someone in the crowd told you – either way concerts are a breeding ground for new information and it’s been this way since the existence of time!

Rise Against frontman Tim McIlrath joined Wall of Sound for a Virtual Hang earlier in the week and the topic of conversation lead to the motivation behind the band jumping on social issues long before they’ve become widespread news. As it turns out, it all stemmed from the old Chicago punk/hardcore scene which McIlrath was a part of in the mid-90s as he opened up and revealed:

“The first time I heard the word sweatshop was at a punk show. The first time I learned about environmental issues like global warming was at a punk show. The first time I really heard about the plight of indigenous cultures was at a punk show. The punk show became my secondary education.”

And that may be the case for a lot of us in the same boat. You hear conversations about certain issues (some you may not have known about) and after piquing your interest, you follow through and play your part in making a change for the better. It was those early memories that lead to Tim fronting Rise Against to pass on his own knowledge to the next generation of fans/musicians who’d consequently follow in his footsteps:

“I knew that if I ever had the microphone, like if someone ever gave me the opportunity to be on that stage, I wanted to pass that torch to whoever the next version of me was.”

Tim is aware that not everyone is destined for a career in music, but activism and fighting for issues close to your heart on the other hand is much easier once you get the ball rolling. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly nudge from our idols to get the information we need to educate ourselves and start our own journey of self-discovery.

As Tim adds, it’s not the performing in front of thousands of fans that he gets a kick out of, it’s the moment he connects with his fanbase (or passive listener) and changes something in their thought process that he really  gets a kick out of:

“I don’t have rockstar dreams… I didn’t get into this because I wanted to be a rockstar [but] what excites me is being able to kind of turn lightbulbs on over your head. That’s what I get out of it! That’s how I know we’re doing a good job is if we’re turning on some lightbulbs or if we’re ruffling some feathers and creating some friction. That’s what keeps me coming back for more”

You’re gonna hear plenty of those issues raised on the band’s new album Nowhere Generation (our review here) which is certainly going to cause a bit of friction amongst the masses upon release day on Friday. Are you ready?

Pre-Order Nowhere Generation Here

Rise Against – Nowhere Generation tracklisting

1. The Numbers
2. Sudden Urge
3. Nowhere Generation
4. Talking To Ourselves
5. Broken Dreams, Inc
6. Forfeit
7. Monarch
8. Sounds Like
9. Sooner Or Later
10. Middle Of A Dream
11. Rules Of Play

About Paul 'Browny' Brown (3766 Articles)
Dad, Wall of Sound Boss Man/Editorial Manager, Moshpit Enthusiast & Professional Beard Grower!