A volatile political climate still may not be enough to wake RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE from its eight-year slumber, according to guitarist Tom Morello. The rap-rock outfit last played together in 2011 at L.A. Rising and has resisted calls for a reunion, with vocalist Zach De La Rocha believed to be the lone holdout. Morello and his fellow RAGE bandmates Tim Commerford (bass) and drummer Brad Wilk (drums) have since teamed up with PUBLIC ENEMY's Chuck D. and CYPRESS HILL's B-Real in the similarly styled PROPHETS OF RAGE.
In an interview with Lou Brutus of HardDrive Radio (video below) at this year's Sonic Temple festival in Columbus, Ohio, Morello, who is currently touring in support of his latest solo album, "The Atlas Underground", was asked to cite a specific example of musical chemistry that bore favorable results. "I had some of those riffs that eventually ended up on the first RAGE record on a cassette," he said. "I was jamming with every musician in Hollywood with some of the riffs that would become 'Bombtrack', 'Freedom', 'Township Rebellion', 'Know Your Enemy'. They didn't sound like that until I played with Brad Wilk, Tim Commerford and Zach De La Rocha. Didn't sound anything like that. The second we were in a room together — it's something I try not to over-intellectualize, it's just something that happens. If you really pay attention to it, it's because I play those huge riffs with a single coil pickup, so my guitar has sort of a springiness to it that’s not very metal. Timmy C. plays with a bass sound that sounds like three BLACK SABBATH's playing at once, so it fills up that mid-range. Brad tends to play behind the beat; I play in front of it; Tim plays right on it, so these riffs become these huge, sort of slabs of rhythms that is only because of the natural way we play together to the first rehearsal to the last gig."
Morello was then asked about being one of the few mainstream proponents of rock guitar in the 1990s, a decade that eschewed the often showy and bombastic playing of the previous decade.
"I was an anomaly in '90s rock, in that I was a self-described 'gunslinging' electric guitar player," he said. "I came out of that '80s era that guitar is a competition. In the '90s, there was none of that, so I was the last man standing in a way. It was awesome to be at those shows and just have that lane to be able to shred."
On the status of PROPHETS OF RAGE, Morello said the band is working on new music and should have something out by the end of the year. The same cannot be said for RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE.
"There's no news on the RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE front," he said. "The times demand people standing up. That's what I'm doing with my stuff, what PROPHETS OF RAGE is doing. Don't wait around for RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE. Form your own band and get it done."
"The Atlas Underground" was released last year. The disc finds the RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE guitarist collaborating with artists like PORTUGAL. THE MAN, Whethan, Marcus Mumford, Vic Mensa, Big Boi and GZA as well as EDM acts like BASSNECTAR, KNIFE PARTY and Steve Aoki.