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Interview: Tim McIlrath Shows There Is No Limit For Rise Against

Rise Against has been around for over a decade, so you would think as fans we would know all the facades of the band. The endless talent of the American band has only lengthened our Rise Against quiz and not knowing all the answers has caused our punk rock love to further deepen. So, we’ll take a failing grade, if that means more innovative and inspiring tunes from the legendary, yes they deserve this title, band.

Summing up Rise Against’s musical biography will probably deplete the group’s successful career, but you Shockya readers should have a recap. Vocalist and guitarist Tim McIlrath, bassist Joe Principe, drummer Brandon Barnes and guitarist Zach Blair have outdone themselves with the release of their recent album, “Endgame”. Let’s backtrack a bit. Prior to “Endgame”, there was “The Unraveling”, “Revolutions Per Minute”, “Siren Song of the Counter Culture”, “The Sufferer & the Witness” and “Appeal to Reason”. We did enjoy all five of these albums, but nothing is more relatable than the tunes of the present. “Endgame” dropped March 15th via DGC/Interscope. We know the release date passed already, but the 12 track album persists on our “Recently Played” list on iTunes, so it is far from being dated.

“Endgame” took our hearts captive for a variety of reasons, but way at the top of our list involves the lyrics of the tracks. The intricate melodies and outstanding instrumental sounds of the tunes are top notch, but underneath all that are songs that address complex concerns. The revolutionary songs alarm listeners of imperfections in society, such as the wave of gay teen suicides, natural disasters and those man-made catastrophes. With “Endgame”, Rise Against proves a musical hit doesn’t have to be void of intellectual and intuitive messages. It is best to embrace the pain in the world to draw attention to it and not substitute it with words of no substance.

Rise Against

Check out our interview below and take the words of Tim McIlrath to heart. Yes, the singer and guitarist has given fans music for a decade, but the artist will open your eyes past the beats and into a place of clarity with his wise words.

How has it been being in the music industry for over a decade? What changes have you seen within the industry that have sparked your interest?

I have found that the further you can distance yourself from the “industry” and everything that is, the more pure your art will be. The industry can be an ugly place, and we’ve put some distance between us and its gnashing teeth. The internet has obviously revolutionized music, and it’s been an interesting thing to watch unfold and change the way we interact with music. I hope it doesn’t devalue, I hope it simply serves to unlock its full potential.

Surviving a little over a decade in this industry is a great success. Why have you guys stuck around so long? What has pushed you to keep making more music??

We have said no to more things than we have said yes to. It sounds like a failed business model, but that’s what we’ve done. Never underestimate the industry’s desire to exploit what you do, your fans, and who you are. Protect what you do and who you are. Fiercely.

What sets “Endgame” apart from the three previous albums, “Siren Song of the Counter Culture”, “The Sufferer & the Witness” and “Appeal to Reason”??

“Endgame” is a slap in the face. It’s sick of asking politely and now it’s demanding. It’s a bucket of cold water. ??

I always find your album titles to be very intriguing and well thought out. Why name this one “Endgame”?

I was looking for a one word album title since we haven’t done that before. “Endgame” was a way to talk about the world in a different way than we have before. It is talking about the world from the perspective that it’s too late to recycle. It’s too late to drive a hybrid. It’s too late to decide whether you believe in global warming or not because global warming has devoured the planet. Perhaps if we begin to discuss the very real consequences of the un-satiable appetite of consumerism, then we can learn something.

Is your album cover for “Endgame” meant as a political statement? What’s the meaning behind the boy with the American flag?

I would imagine it’s something different to each person. To me, the boy is traveling with a flag, because the place that flag used to fly is no longer there, and now he has to find somewhere new to raise it. It doesn’t need to be an American flag though. You could insert any flag.

The lyrics behind the track, “Architects” are catchy, but are profound as well and resemble a poem. In terms of the lyrics, do you think people of the generation are architects or the bricks? What influenced you guys to write this song??

To many people of my generation are the too often the bricks. They are allowing the world around them to be designed by a ruling class. Somehow that ruling class has even convinced working class America to vote against their own self-interests. Somebody protested and argued for almost every right that we enjoy as people. Somewhere, at some point in history, the freedoms we take for granted were earned by a dissenting minority. Those freedoms are constantly under attack and in danger of being rolled back and I wonder who is going to fight for them.

With the track, “Help Is On The Way,” what are you guys asking to be saved from? What’s the meaning of the song??

This song stems from Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil disaster and their effect on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Katrina was as much a man-made disaster as it was a natural disaster. Sine the BP oil disaster, not a single piece of legislation has been passed to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. ??

Is there a general theme amongst the 12 tracks of the album? Or do they all incorporate different personal statements??

They incorporate different personal messages with a few recurring motifs happening.

With “Endgame” being your 6th album, does the songwriting and recording process come easier??

In some ways it becomes easier, but it becomes more challenging to contribute something new and fresh and not simply rehash what you’ve already done.

What’s it like performing new music on stage for fans? Better than performing your older music?

New music is exciting because for me, a song isn’t done until you’ve performed live. Until you’ve played it in front of an audience it is not finished.

Expecting yourselves to stick around in the music scene for more decades to come??

We are at the mercy of our audience, but there is no end in sight as far as I’m concerned.

by Lonnie Nemiroff

Rise Against Endgame

Rise Against Endgame

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