tim mcilrath - Action for Animals


tim mcilrath - Action for Animals
Tim McIlrath
Rise Against singer Tim McIlrath recently talked
with Action for Animals about his commitment to
animal rights activism and using the microphone
to speak out about important issues.
How did you get involved with animal rights
activism? What’s kept you involved?
For me it was going to shows that got me
involved in animal rights. I was part of a really
cool and progressive hardcore scene in Chicago
in the 90s. This scene fostered a constant
dialogue about a number of political issues.
Everything from immigration, the environment,
sexism, racism, religion, and animal rights were
laced in songs, presented in the form
of literature at shows,
and talked about from
the stage. What’s kept
me involved is seeing
how things that were
marginal 15 years ago
have become mainstream,
like the environment or
sweatshops, so activism is
working. You were a nut to
talk about the environment
fifteen years ago, but now
people have a better grasp on
why we need to preserve it.
That’s encouraging, and I see a
light at the end of the tunnel.
Rise Against and Action for
Animals have both been on
several summers of Warped Tour. Do you see
Warped Tour as a good medium for activism?
In what way(s)?
Anything that has as much access to people
as the Warped Tour is a great medium for
activism. From my own experience, Warped
has such a diverse crowd of people from all
walks of life. Warped is a pretty good mirror
reflection of youth cultures, for better or for
worse! But people who are looking to make a
difference will find outlets for their passions at
a tour like Warped.
What’s it like to be vegetarian on tour? Favorite
vegan tour food?
It’s really easy, especially nowadays. If it’s a
big tour, then we hire a catering company and
everything is veg. We play lots of the same
cities, we have our favorite restaurants that we
seek out and new ones we like to explore; it’s
awesome. It makes us look forward to each
city. When I think of a city I think first of what
venue is there and second where my favorite
place is to eat. My favorite backstage food is
fake jerky, like that Captain Stonewalls stuff.
We rarely get it, but when we do, I love it.
The video for your song “Ready to Fall” makes
a strong statement for animals. What did you
hope to accomplish with that video? What
indications of its impact have you seen?
All we wanted to do was take the images that
provoked our own decisions, documentaries
like Meet Your Meat or Earthlings, and play
them to a wider audience of people who might
not otherwise check out those documentaries.
We figured that, as long as our label was
going to give us a budget to make a
big video that would
subsequently be pushed
to get airplay, we wanted to inject that
video with something that could really affect
the viewers. In a way, we got to hijack the
airwaves for about four minutes at a time.
Pictures are worth a thousand words, and
that video changed lives and I’m really proud
of it. We receive tons of feedback from that
video still; it’s incredible. [Watch the video for
“Ready to Fall” at riseagainst.com/media or on
Why do you choose to use your position in a
band to speak out for animal rights, as well as
being a voice for change in general?
It’s all I know. It’s the only reason I want to be
on a stage and write music. I didn’t get into
this to be a rock star. I didn’t look up to giant
rock bands. I looked up to hardcore kids with
microphones telling me about things that my
teacher and parents weren’t telling me about.
I knew that if I ever got that microphone, I
would carry that torch to the next generation.
We’ve heard from many people that you/Rise
Against inspired them to be vegetarian/vegan
and/or to be involved in activism. What does
it mean to you to know that you make such
an impact?
If even only one person changed their lives
because of something we did, that makes it all
worth it. The fact that there are many people,
well that’s overwhelming and it’s great to have
so many incredible fans. The more I meet our
fans, the more I realize how cool the people
that listen to Rise Against are. We’re very lucky
in that respect.
What do you most want to tell the world about
animals, animal rights, etc.?
Dog-breeding has got to stop. This is an issue
that, too often, animal lovers and even people
into animal rights have not thought about
enough. Fortunately, I think it’s an easy one
to put an end to. Mainly because people
who are breeding animals or buying bred
animals consider themselves animal lovers.
Four to five million un-adopted animals are
euthanized every year while breeders bring
more puppies into this world for profit.
Animals for profit is wrong. If you know
somebody who wants a pet, encourage
them to adopt. Puppies and even purebred animals (if that’s your thing) are
available in your area for adoption right
now! Friends don’t let friends buy from
What do you tell your daughter about
Very simply, I tell her that they are our friends.
When she’s older, I’ll tell her more. In the
meantime, I want her to understand that they
don’t belong behind bars or on our plates.
Luckily, in a child’s mind, that is common
sense. I feel bad for the parents that have to
explain factory farming to their children, or
more realistically, the parents that are lying to
their children about where their meat comes
from. Because if you told them the truth, even
kids know it’s wrong. ■
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