Rise Against's Tim McIlrath on SB 1070 and MTV
It's been three years since Rise Against last performed in Arizona thanks to the band's participation in The Sound Strike. The terms of the boycott have changed, so Rise Against is making its triumphant return to the valley.
The line-up couldn't get much better, as Rise Against is paired with long time friends and punk peers Hot Water Music and Gaslight Anthem for a show at Mesa Amphitheatre on Friday, September 28.
We recently caught up with frontman Tim McIlrath to discuss fond memories of No Use for a Name's Tony Sly, losing the VMA for best video with a message to Demi Lovato, and of course, SB 1070.
The Gaslight Anthem's Benny Horowitz on Handwritten and SB 1070
Hot Water Music's Chris Wollard on Exister, The Band's First Record Without "Any Hang-Ups"
Rise Against Ends Boycott of Arizona; Sound Strike Changes Focus
Up on the Sun: How did this tour with Hot Water Music and Gaslight Anthem get set up?
Tim McIlrath: Sheer good fortune, I would say. When we put a tour together, it's kind of like you're putting your fantasy football team together, in a way. You pick a band you want to go on tour with, you pick your favorite bands or your best friends, or people you really love and respect, and you hope that maybe they'll do it.
For us, we've always aimed high. We've taken Rancid on tour, even though we looked at each other and said there's no way we're going to get Rancid to go on tour with us. We've taken Bad Religion out, we've toured with all of these amazing bands, and so Gaslight and Hot Water are bands that we've toured with. Hot Water Music is a band that my high school band [Tim was in Baxter with the future drummer of The Lawrence Arms, and they were actually pretty good.] opened up for at a bowling alley in Chicago in like 1997. They're a band that I've been listening to for a long time. They're kind of heroes of old punks including ours, so I guess it's sort of a dream team.
I'm sure you knew this question was coming. Since you have some upcoming shows in Arizona, why change the focus of The Sound Strike now?
That was a decision based on The Sound Strike as a group. All the bands, all the people that were involved, it was just kind of a change of strategy. It also felt like they had won a few key things that we had drawn a lot of attention to what was happening.
It's not that we don't want to play Arizona. It's not that we don't have so many amazing fans in Arizona, because the first time we played Arizona was in the basement of the Nile Theater, and I remember that show. I remember thinking how cool it is that in this corner of America that we've never been to before, we have all these Rise Against fans here. It's been like that, it's been snowballing ever since.
We had to take a step back and look at what we thought was, and we still think is, discrimination being added to the legislation of our country. Our country's history was founded on discrimination against Native Americans and African Americans, but it became this country because it rose above that. For any type of legislation that would add discrimination back to the Constitution, back to the country we live in, we felt like that was a thing that needed to be addressed.
The best way to do that, we thought, was simply by not playing because we felt like people would ask why aren't they playing here. That's an age old form of protest is the boycott. A lot of people were saying, you're just Rise Against, not playing here isn't going to change this legislation. Certainly, there's some truth to that, we're just a drop in the bucket, but that's the nature of every boycott. You're each your own person boycotting whatever it is you choose to boycott, but as a group it's a lot more powerful.
We thought a statement had been made, the point of it had come across and we felt like it was moving in the right direction. In terms of the four of us, we were uncomfortable with the passive nature of what we were doing. We felt like we could do more if we were in Arizona, but we also wanted to respect the boycott and respect The Sound Strike. We wanted to be a part of doing something that was about doing something, not a part of something that was about simply not doing anything. We wanted to return; the entire Sound Strike decided that they wanted to return as a new strategy.