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Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath on Bob Dylan: ‘I Didn’t Give His Music a Chance Till I Was Older’

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“I grew up listening to metal, punk and rock music, so when I was a teenager, Bob Dylan was always just on the peripheral for me. I just thought of him as someone from my parent’s listened to, or whatever. I never really got into what he did, and more or less dismissed it,” says Rise Against vocalist/guitarist Tim McIlrath.

Noisecreep is on the phone with the frontman discussing Rise Against’s cover of ‘The Ballad of Hollis Brown,’ the melodic punk band’s contribution to ‘Chimes of Freedom,’ a compilation celebrating the 50th Anniversary of human rights organization Amnesty International.

“I got into Dylan later in life, and I think that happened for combination of reasons. I was trying to trace back the roots of counterculture music, and seeing where Rise Against fit into that. Dylan was obviously part of an important generation of songwriters, but I didn’t give his music a chance till I was older,” McIlrath says about the folk rock icon.

Noisecreep asked the Rise Against star how he finally got around to listening to Dylan: “I would meet people all the time that couldn’t believe that I didn’t listen to him. So next thing I knew, I started getting these iTunes gift cards from my friends, and they’d tell me, ‘You gotta hear this song and that song.’ So that’s when I started to listen to Dylan. I really peeled back the layers and got into the lyrics. That’s when I began to appreciate his craft, and what an incredible songwriter he is.”

Watch Rise Against’s ‘The Making of Hollis Brown’ Video


Although McIlrath has since become a huge Dylan admirer, he hadn’t heard ‘The Ballad of Hollis Brown’ till right before Rise Against chose to cover it for the ‘Chimes of Freedom’ compilation. “We originally wanted to record ‘Masters of War’ for the record, but The Roots ended up doing it. I found ‘The Ballad of Hollis Brown’ on a Dylan live album from a folk festival. We were on tour with Bad Religion last year, and we were just playing a lot of Bob Dylan stuff on shuffle, waiting for something to poke out.

“One day, ‘The Ballad of Hollis Brown’ came on in our dressing room, and it just hit me. I remember our bassist [Joe Principe] stopped what he was doing too. We both listened closely to the lyrics, and we loved how dark the story was. It definitely doesn’t have a happy ending.”

Rise Against tour dates:

w/ A Day to Remember and The Menzingers:

January 18th Illusion Theater San Antonio, TX
January 19th House of Blues New Orleans, LA** ADTR not on this show
January 21st UCF Arena Orlando, FL
January 22nd Township Auditorium Columbia, SC
January 24th Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA
January 26th Kent State University Kent, OH
January 27th UIC Pavilion Chicago, IL
January 29th Penn State State College, PA
January 30th Mid Hudson Civic Center Poughkeepsie, NY
February 1st Paul E. Tsongas Arena Lowell, MA
February 3rd Nassau Coliseum Uniondale, NY ** Glassjaw joins this show
February 4th Susquehanna Bank Center Camden, NJ
February 5th Patriot Center Fairfax, VA (on sale 11/18)

*tickets available to general public now

w/ A Day to Remember and Title Fight:

April 15th San Diego, CA Viejas Arena ** currently on sale
April 16th Bakersfield, CA Rabobank Theater
April 17th San Jose, CA Event Center at SJSU
April 19th Kent, WA ShoWare Center
April 20th Boise, ID Century Link Arena
April 21st Salt Lake City, UT Saltair
April 23rd Rio Rancho, NM Santa Ana Star Center
April 26th Birmingham, AL Verizon Wireless Music Center
April 27th St. Augustine, FL St. Augustine Amphitheatre
April 28th Boca Raton, FL Sunset Grove Amphitheater
April 30th Tampa, FL Green Iguana Stadium
May 1st Atlanta, GA Masquerade Music Park
May 2nd Charlotte, NC Time Warner Cable Uptown
May 4th Indianapolis, IN The Lawn at White River State Park
May 5th Cincinnati, OH PNC Pavilion at Riverbend Music
May 6th Pittsburgh, PA Trib Total Media Amphitheatre **currently on sale
May 8th Syracuse, NY New York State Fairgrounds
May 10th Toronto, ON Air Canada Centre

*tickets available to general public starting Jan. 13

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