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Tim McIlrath of Rise Against

glennarNglennarN Enrolled Posts: 33
Time to expose some of my personal tastes.... scary stuff.

Anyways, Tim McIlrath is probably one of my favorite vocalists of all time (on studio recordings anyways). What really grabs me is his desperation and his aggression, not necessarily his range or his technique. Speaking of technique, I know from seeing them myself live and from watching quite a lot of live recordings on Youtube that his technique does not seem to be all that, he seems to blow out his voice a fair bit from what I've seen. 

(turn down your speakers, it starts off in full blast almost immediately)

This is probably what I would consider their best song and also possibly one of my favorite recorded vocal performances ever. Unfortunately, it sounds to me like he is incredibly throaty most of the time except on a few high notes in the chorus (that happen to give me shivers almost every time) and some of the lower parts in the verses. He also seems to hit pretty much everything (vowels and consontants) really hard. What makes me sad is that I really like this kind of throaty tone and while I would not willingly do something that would be damaging to my voice, I would be really glad if there was ever a way of getting close to this kind of sound safely. 

I know that this programme teaches glottal compression and stuff, but how close would that eventually bring me to this kind of sound?


  • ragnarragnar Pro Posts: 410
    Yeah... McIlrath is as much a shouter as he is a singer from what I've heard. That's not to say he can't sing though, "Hero of War" is the song I care for most of Rise Against in which he sings strongly and well with some grit added in places.

    But in most of their more agressive punk-driven songs I've heard he seems to really go berserk with a lot - A LOT - of growl in his voice.
    I don't care for it personally and Ken doesn't really teach it - although I'm sure he probably knows how to do it if he wants to.
    (Hyper) Glottal compression will give you grit and distortion when you master it, but I don't think it gives you the exact 
    McIlrath sound.
    if you first stick to and master Ken's principles and that way lay a solid foundation; then you will be able to more safely experiment with those type of sounds, if you still remain hellbent on it.
    Whether one can sustain one's voice for decades while growling I don't know (although I doubt it), but if you dive head first into it without much other training you will run a pretty big risk of blowing out your voice completely.
  • glennarNglennarN Enrolled Posts: 33
    edited March 2013
    Yeah, I'm not necessarily "hellbent" on learning to sing like this considering there are other styles of music that I enjoy that seem much safer for the voice, but it is a type of expression that apparently speaks to me so it would be cool if it could be mastered somehow. I've never seriously tried to sing any of their stuff yet, all of their songs are pretty crazy and requires some really high chest voice stuff that I can't do yet and that grit/distortion. That said, the song I just posted is one of my long-term goals, but that is indeed a LONG-term goal :P

    EDIT: And yes, "Hero of War" is reeaally good too :P
  • overdriveisclassyoverdriveisclassy Pro Posts: 106
    I immediately came to this thread because Tim McIlrath is also my favorite singer of all time, and I agree with what you said. The chorus on Prayer of the Refugee is my personal goal. The fact that live he doesn't use the same intensity could just be because it's tiring to do it constantly, not that it's a bad or unhealthy technique. Tim McIlrath has been singing for many many years and is still going strong. I would love if Ken could give some input on this because singers like Tim achieve an intense emotion with their vocal performances that is hard to achieve and is probably dangerous to try without guidance.
  • glennarNglennarN Enrolled Posts: 33
    edited March 2013
    @overdriveisclassy: The fact that I don't really think he is as good live as on the recordings is not really a greater jab at him, honestly. I consider studio versions to be the definitive versions of anything, it's the way it was intended to be heard so to say. That, combined with the fact that he and his band has written such a powerful song and that he has managed to put down such a powerful emotional performance is more than enough to make me respect him as an artist. If I could ever replicate that, I'd die happy, no joke.

    I too would be really interested to hear what Ken has to say about this (hell, I'd LOVE if he made one of those "How to sing like..." Youtube videos about him), these kinds of aggressive expressions are very interesting compared to more established vocal styles.

    EDIT: Re-ordering words so that they actually make sense ;)
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,353

    I forwarded this thread to Ken, in case he wouldn't be able to see it himself for a while to get his feedback.

    Below is his response to the above thread:


    Hi Guys,


    I understand why you like Tim however this style of singing will hurt you if you don't know what you are doing.


    Tim does not sing right and it is already costing him.


    If you are looking to compress this sound this hard, you need to do it a little at a time and distort over time building this sound safely.


    Going straight to it is like taking a flame thrower to your vocal cords.,



  • glennarNglennarN Enrolled Posts: 33
    edited March 2013
    @highmtn: Thanks a bunch for forwarding this and of course thanks to Ken for taking time to respond.

    Can't say I'm all that surprised of Ken's verdict. I hope Tim fixes his technique soon, the man has a lot going for him and it would be a shame if his voice would deteriorate beyond repair :(
  • overdriveisclassyoverdriveisclassy Pro Posts: 106
    Yeah thank you highmtn and Ken. I'm curious as to what Ken is referring to when he says that it's "already costing him [Tim]". Tim seems to keep going strong as a vocalist, is there something I'm missing?
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