Rise Against

Rise Against frontman Tim McIlrath recently shared his thoughts about guitars and guitar-playing with Total Guitar magazine, via the Music Radar website. Turns out the first two instruments McIlrath owned were Gibsons.

“My first guitar was a 1951 [Gibson] Kalamazoo,” he said. “I found it at the back of a friend’s closet. He bought it from a neighbor and tried to learn guitar but never did. I took it off his hands. I didn’t know what it was.”

Tim McIlrath went from that vintage instrument to a cherished electric.

“I always wanted an SG,” he said. “I always thought that was a bad-ass guitar. That would be the second guitar: I had a 1984 SG. Today, I just need a Marshall and a Gibson. I don’t even need a pedal. That combination has worked for me, it’s worked for Ian MacKaye, it’s worked well for Angus Young. I play a no-frills rig. As long as I have a Gibson Les Paul and a Marshall head then it’s hard to [screw] that up.”

McIlrath went on to say his playing was “validated” for the first time during the making of Rise Against’s second album, Revolutions per Minute.

“I didn’t really play on the first record,” he noted. “I just joined the band as a singer. We did a record with Bill Stevenson [Descendents] and that was the first time I had played guitar under scrutiny. To do that for Bill and have him say, ‘Yeah, that’s awesome,’ [meant a lot]. Before that I wasn’t sure if I was a good guitar player or a half-assed guitar player.”

Rise Against’s most recent album, Wolves, was released last summer.