Tim McIlrath (born November 3, 1978) is the lead singer for the American melodic hardcore band Rise Against. He is known for his versatile voice, and is able to sing softly, scratchy and frantic, or an all out scream. He is also a competent guitarist; during Rise Against's time without a second guitarist, McIlrath filled this role.
Timothy J. McIlrath was born in 1978 in Indianapolis, Indiana. At a young age he read books such as 1984 by George Orwell, and A Brave New World, which would later influence his later work. As a child in Catholic (Our Lady of the Wayside) school in Arlington Heights, IL, he was taunted for having one brown eye and one blue eye, known as heterochromia. Fellow classmates thought this a mark of the beast.
He began his musical career in his teenage years; he was very active in the Chicago local alternative rock/punk scene. His first band was the Post-Hardcore band .baxter. along with future The Lawrence Arms drummer Neil Hennessy. Their first release was a full length, self released, cassete, Troy's Bucket which was released in 1996. Troy's Bucket was met with warm reception from the scene, and .baxter. became a popular band in the Chicago underground scene.
In 1997 they released a 7" EP Lost Voices on Static Station Records. After some local touring, the band split up. Tim was then in the first incarnation of The Honor System. He sang on their demo and on some songs on their debut album Single File.
Tim then joined a metalcore band called Arma Angelus (playing bass) with Peter Wentz (now in Fall Out Boy) as their lead vocalist. They released their debut album the same year that Rise Against released theirs on Eulogy records. It was called Where Sleeplessness Is Rest From Nightmares. After touring around the midwest, Arma Angelus broke up in 2002. Also that year, Will not Clear man Records released the complete Discography for .baxter., entitled Baxter.
In 1999 he formed Rise Against with former 88 Fingers Louie bassist and guitarists, Joe Principe and Mr. Precision and drummer Brandon Barnes. They recorded their debut album The Unraveling on Fat Wreck Chords in 2001.
2003 guitarist Mr. Precison left, and Todd Mohney filled his role. Later that year they released their sophomore album Revolutions Per Minute, which was greeted with warm succes and is considered by many to be their best work. They toured the U.S. steadily that year, though by the end of it, Todd left. In order to replace him, former Reach the Sky guitarist Chris Chasse joined In 2004 and they released their Geffen debut Siren Song of the Counter Culture. With the release of the singles Give it All, Swing Life Away, and Life Less Frightening, Rise Against, became more popular with mainstream fans, but still kept their underground sensibility. After more touring (including a European tour and spots on the Vans Warped tour), the band went back to the studio and recorded The Sufferer and the Witness, which included two singles (Ready to Fall and Prayer of the Refugee).
Tim is also active in a heavier, more hardcore type side-project band called The Killing Tree along with former Rise Against guitarist Todd Mohney, though all members use pseudonyms in concern to the band.
Tim is known for his deep and melodic vocal style, which often sets them apart from other Hardcore bands. Tim also writes the lyrics for all Rise Against songs. His songs usually involve his liberal political stand point, and love songs. In his political songs he often portrays a group of people, but at times portrays only himself. He is also a competent guitarist but didn't start playing guitar for Rise Against until the "Revolutions Per Minute" writing sessions. This has been more evident in recent years.
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