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Timothy J. McIlrath was born in 1979 in Arlington Heights, IL. At a young age he read books such as 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, which would influence his later work. As a child in Catholic school, Our Lady of the Wayside in Arlington Heights, IL, he was taunted for having one brown eye and one blue eye, known as heterochromia. As an early teenager, all of Tim's friends were into snowboarding, so Tim saved up money until he had $400 to buy one. He had his heart set on becoming a snowboarder (even though he had never snowboarded before), until the day he went to buy one. One day he walked to the snowboard shop, but entered a nearby guitar shop instead. He fell in love with a 1984 cherry red Gibson SG and bought it for $425.
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, formed in 1995 along with future The Lawrence Arms drummer Neil Hennessy and future Killing Tree and Holy Roman Empire bassist Geoff Reu. Their first release was a full length, self released, cassette, 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 played bass and sang backup in the first incarnation of The Honor System. He sang on their demo and on some songs on their debut album Single File. He and drummer Neil Hennesy could also be found in a brief lineup of the grind band Yellow Road Priest, whose members went on to form Pelican.
 Arma Angelus
Tim then joined a hardcore band called Arma Angelus (playing bass) with Pete Wentz (now in Fall Out Boy). Arma released a full length with Tim on bass and backup vocals entitled The Grave End of the Shovel before he left the band to focus on The Killing Tree and what would eventually become Rise Against. Arma went on to release their debut full length album Where Sleeplessness Is Rest From Nightmares on Eulogy records the same year that Rise Against released theirs. 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.
 Rise Against
In 1999 he formed Rise Against with former 88 Fingers Louie bassist, Joe Principe, guitarist Dan Precision (A.K.A. Mr. Precision), and drummer Brandon Barnes. They recorded their debut album The Unraveling on Fat Wreck Chords in 2001.
In 2003 guitarist Mr. Precison left, and Todd Mohney filled his role. Later that year they released their second album Revolutions Per Minute which was greeted with warm success 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 their fourth album The Sufferer and the Witness, which included three singles ("Ready to Fall, ""Prayer of the Refugee", and "The Good Left Undone").
They are currently on tour. 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.
Zach Blair, his band's current guitarist, has said in an interview that Rise Against already has plans to return to the studio after the tour to begin writing and recording their as-yet-untitled fifth album, tenatively due for release in the summer/fall of 2008.
 Role in Rise Against
Tim is known for his deep and melodic vocal style, which often sets them apart from other Hardcore bands. Tim is credited exclusively for the lyrics of all Rise Against songs. His songs usually reflect his liberal political stand point, though his skills as a writer are broad enough to cover other genres, as well, such as love, uplifting, and reflection songs. 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.
 Rise Against
 The Killing Tree
 Arma Angelus
 The Honor System
 PETA work
Tim is vegetarian, as are his fellow bandmembers. They are active with the animal rights group PETA. Tim often takes part in PETA protests and gives out PETA books and flyers at shows. He has given many interviews along with other bands. The band serves PETA by offering them their time and money.
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