Rise Against: Modern day folk rocks biggest band


The band Rise Against is one the best and outspoken bands today. Almost every one of their songs are about and deep social issue and lead singer/songwriter Tim is a very smart person who puts a lot of heart into his songs. Their most recent album Appeal to reason has three songs with very different and strong issues. Re-Education (Through Labor), which is about the 925 lifestyle and the dog-eat-dog world we live in do to things like the declining economy and the rising unemployment rate. The environment and global warming are discussed in Collapse (Post-Amerika). Lastly the song Entertainment talks about the issues with celebrity worship and the way the paparatzi and Hollywood treat their celebrities.

The band Rise Against consists of Tim McIlrath (Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar), Joe Principe (bass guitar, backing vocals), Zach Blair (lead guitar, backing vocals), and Brandon Barnes (drums, percussion). The one thing that binds this band together is that all the members are full-fledged Vegitarians, and with the exception of Barnes they are all Straight-Edge, which means abstaining from consuming alcoholic beverages or using recreational drugs.

The band have stated numerous punk and hardcore rock bands as their influences but their biggest are Cave in, Face to Face, Screaming Weasels, Descendants, Dead Kennedy’s, Bad Religion and Down by Law. But they claim the two biggest are Minor Threat, and Black Flag.

Rise against is also one of the biggest bands supported by PETA (People for the ethical treatment of animals) their video for their song Ready to fall shows many things towards the negative man does on animals and earth. Tim calls it their most important video ever and the director’s cut was first available on the official PETA website. In 2009 Rise Against was voted Best Animal Friendly Band by PETA.

Now the main songwriter of rise against is Tim McIlrath the lead singer. He was born in Arlington Heights, IL on November 3, 1979. When he was a youngster he was very in intelligent and a big reader, even as a child he read 1984 by George Orwell and Brave new world by Aldous Huxley. He grew up in a relatively good neighborhood not with any economical problems but was mocked as a kid at his school (Our lady of wayside) for having a decease known as heterochromia, which basically meant he had two different color eyes, one brown and one blue. He didn’t get into music until he was in his teen years. His friends were fascinated with snowboarding and he saved up $400 dollars to get one but ended up buying something that would drastically change his life. A Gibson SG his first guitar.

His first band was a post-hardcore metal band named Baxter, they lasted about two years but in that time they made a demo tape called Troys Bucket. They played a lot of shows in that time, giving Tim some experience on the stage they would eventually release a 7” EP called Lost Voices in 1997 after they did a little local touring they split up. Tim would then join the band The honor system for a quick stint as back up vocals and bass.

Transistor revolver who would later become rise against was originally formed in 1999, they would eventually change their lineup a little and release four albums under Fat Wreck Chords (their original record label) until they signed with Interscope records and released their 5th studio album Appeal To Reason.
The First song is Re-Education (Through Labor) of Appeal to reason. (Appendix 1) The basic synopsis of this song is it’s about the regular people the working class heroes as
John Lennon would say. The people living the 925 lifestyle of work sleep work sleep, etc. So why would they write about this dog-eat-dog lifestyle, because the connection that I believe in of the rising unemployment rate, and the decreasing economy, with the rising Suicide rates.

With increasing unemployment rate suicide rates are also starting to go up with the unemployment rate for adult males going from 6.8% in 2008 to 9.4% in April of 2009, that’s a 2.6% increase (appendix 4), on the same hand the suicide for males between the ages of 40-64(the prime age for the whole 925 workstyle) has gone from 14.9 per 100,000 to 17.5 per 100,000 in 6 years. (Appendix 3). Prof. Susan Baker basically said that she cared with the current recession that we with have to take extra care and watch out for this age group (appendix 2). I think these numbers will increase in coming years as long as the economy gets worse which it looks like its going to.

The most powerful line in this song for me which sometimes actually gives me shivers is “We sow the seeds to see us through, that sometimes dreams just don’t come true”. This gives me a powerful image because I can see it in myself. When you are a kid you have dreams of maybe being an astronaut or an actor. Even for example I wanted to be a professional wrestler. But, most people don’t grow up to be what they dream to be, they mainly grow up working crappy jobs that they hate, cause who grows up dreaming that they will be saying “May I take your order” for a living. The highest unemployment rate is Teenagers at 21.5% in April 2009 (Appendix 4), not to say that teenagers are lazy its just, the fact that your not going to have that dream job usually doesn’t set in until your older and in your younger years you refuse to work in those crappy everyday jobs because you think to yourself “Why do that to make money I am going to be a huge actor when I get older”.

What are we going to do about this lifestyle no one knows even numbers can lie for instance you actually have to have been looking for jobs to be considered unemployed. Like in 2004 president Bush was happy to say the unemployment percent decreased 5.9%, not knowing that it wasn’t people getting jobs it was people just stopped trying. (Appendix 5).

The next song is also of Appeal to Reason and its name is Collapse (Post-Amerika) (Appendix 5). This song is basically about the environment, earth, and all of its beautiful creatures and we destroy it. Also about how our own ignorance is making it even worse cause we refuse to accept how badly we are destroying it. Now this whole song is really important but one of the best parts is. “When our rivers run dry and our crops cease to grow”. Which is talking about deforestation which is number 3 on the top five worst effects of global warming, and it will lead to lack of water which is already a problem especially in Africa, which will most likely lead to conflict. (Appendix 8).

Another great line is “When the marsh fever spreads from our swamps to our homes”. Which may just be a generalization, but the spread of disease is one of the most dangerous and less known effects of global warming. Because as the more populated northern countries warm the disease carrying insects will move there and spread their disease and some scientists think that because of global warming malaria has not been yet fully eradicated. (Appendix 8)

As I spoke of earlier one of the main problems is our own ignorance and the lyrics “Of a world to proud too admit our mistakes, we’re crashing into the ground as we all fall from grace”. But even for the people who think getting a hybrid car will solve all the problems is wrong, because its not about the individual its about the community or better yet the entire world. The EPA stated that 30% of the us carbon-dioxide emissions come from vehicle exhaust but its not just that. The car emissions are not the major cause of the c02 almost have of it is caused by greenhouse gases from power plants. (Appendix 6) So we need to all work together to try to stop ourselves from destroying this beautiful planet that we live on. To do that the EPA says there are three things we need to do. One, understand the problem, its causes and its threats. Two, Let your leaders know the facts and that you expect them to act. Three, Do something today to prevent greenhouse gas output—please take action. (Appendix 6)

The last song I picked is very different from the first two but it is also like the others of Appeal to Reason. It is Entertainment (Appendix 9), this song is about the pedestal that we put celebrities on and the negative effects it has on us and them. One of the best lines for this song is “We’ve all made petty fortunes but we cant afford a life.” This to me is directly talking about the lack of privacy they have and how they cant have their own lives. As the song says “Spotlights follow every single move. But why are people treated celebrities like gods ? Well it is sometimes caused by neuroticism and maybe sychoticism like people who are epithetic on the celebrity’s failure and success. Also obsession with their lives and an over-identification with the celeb. ( Appendix 12)

But what are the pitfalls about being a celebrity, depression, drug use, and even suicide, three major celebrities that took their lives because of the bright lights were rocker Kurt Cobain, Model Anna Nicole Smith, and actor Freddie Prince sr. (of Chico and the man). (Appendix 10). So why become famous if you cant deal with the pressure. This will never end its just human nature to look up to people with this idolization from the days of Marylyn Monroe to today.

The band Rise against is definitely one of today’s outspoken bands, because instead of worrying about the money they make they worry about the message that it sends and that it helps people and the world. They just want to see the world without the suffering that there is today. These three unique problems I discussed show the variety of Tim’s writing, and that caring about each other and the world can make us all a little better.

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