US heavyweights Rise Against are scheduled to play Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena when they hit the country next year and the band hope she hears about it.
The Chicago outfit also played at the controversial arena back in 2015 and speaking to The Music, frontman Tim McIIrath says that talk surrounding Court’s contentious beliefs were discussed back then.
“We played there last time and while I was there a good friend of mine was telling me about it, and that was kind of alarming,” McIIrath says.
“And then when I saw that we’re heading back and that the controversy has only gained speed it seems like – it’s only gotten bigger – then that’s also interesting. So yeah, I’ve been kind of thinking of that of late seeing that we’re playing this venue.
“There’s two different things – I feel that if you are a person who harbours homophobic sentiments then it should turn your stomach to have a band like Rise Against play in an arena named after you, then at the same time I feel like a band like Rise Against is in a position to kind of point out the injustice of having something like that existing in not just today’s world but really in any world.”
The 38-year-old vocalist compared the Margaret Court controversy to the highly-publicised incident of the US army pulling out as a sponsor of the Warped Tour a few years back, following vocal disapproval from Rise Against and its fans.
“So we had to decide whether we didn’t play the Warped Tour and just boycotted it, or if we decided to play it anyway how do we play it responsibly like a responsible punk band, a responsible punk band that claims to give a shit about the world,” McIIrath recalls.
“And a lot of the times I thought of it as, ‘You have your table, you have your stage and your billboard, and I have mine, and as long as I’m out there and I’m allowed to hold you accountable for your actions, and hold you accountable for the things that you believe in and point it out to people who might otherwise be ignorant of them, then I’m okay with this’.
“So we went out there and we spoke our minds against the US Army being a sponsor of the Warped Tour during the height of the Iraq War and how we thought that was wrong, and eventually the army left that tour. They wrote a letter citing us as one of the reasons, but they were a recruitment centre and sponsor of the tour and decided that it was no longer worth their time if they had to listen to a bunch of punk bands telling them to go home.”
Rise Against hit Australia next February. For a look at all of the dates, click on theGuide.
Keep an eye on theMusic.com.au for our full interview with McIIrath.