Tom Morello: ‘It’s a Miracle’ Rage Against the Machine Made Four Albums
Rage Against the Machine forged their own path in the '90s, becoming one of the more unique voices in the rock world, but at the height of their fame in 2000, the band issued the Renegades covers album and decided to split. Though they would later reform to play shows off and on over the years, the band never recorded again and during a recent chat with Lars Ulrich on the Metallica drummer's It's Electric radio show for Beats 1 on Apple Music, guitarist Tom Morello offered some insight as to why.
"I'll put myself first and foremost," Morello started, while discussing what broke up the band initially. "It was a lack of emotional maturity in being able to deal with each other as people. We had political vision and the shows never suffered, but we just couldn't agree on stuff and that sort of unearthed feelings that made it hard to make records. I think there were competing visions of what Rage was supposed to be and competing feelings about what it was like to be in the band that we didn't deal with."
The guitarist added, "My version of the band was let's make a record every six months. Let's be the political Led Zeppelin and let's overthrow the government and make the best records anyone ever did ... by Wednesday, go, go!" Morello says in retrospect that he now sees he wasn't necessarily understanding of the feelings of his bandmates.
Looking back now, Morello is proud of what they accomplished stating, "My glass half full version is that for a band that had extremely combustible elements, to be able to have made four records and to be able to have played the shows that we did, I think it's a miracle."
Speaking about their reunion and why new music didn't follow, the guitarist revealed that it was never on the table. "We got together in 2007 and we had a great time. We had fun onstage, offstage, playing ping pong, going out, to me it felt like there was a lot of camaraderie, but one of the things we kind of helped that and took off the table was everything that had been controversial before -- writing music, doing interviews, having a manager -- we're just not going to do that stuff. We're just going to play shows and have a nice time and be able to look each other in the eye and have a nice time and not be anything that had stirred controversy in the past," he explains.
Morello also shares a great story in the chat about one of his first meetings with Chris Cornell toward the beginnings of Audioslave, with Rick Rubin helping to set up an introduction after the other Rage members had been listening to Soundgarden's "Slaves and Bulldozers" in the studio.
"Rick and I made the trek up to Ojai to this kind of spooky house on a spooky hill and I didn't know Chris that well. I had met him a couple of times and [going there], it was kind of a Spanish castle-style Dracula," laughs Morello. "He comes out all lanky and the doors open on their own and I remember we're there in my van and there's this long staircase that goes up and there's motorcycles parked outside of it and it's dusk and we're in my van, Rick and I, parked there, and the doors open mysteriously and Chris' lanky form starts coming down the steps and Rick turns to me and goes, 'Let's get the fuck out of here.'"
During the chat with Ulrich, Morello also revealed that Audioslave's "Show Me How to Live" started off with a riff intended for Rage Against the Machine that never found a home until the new band started up. Check out more of Tom Morello's chat with Lars Ulrich on the It's Electric show in the player above.
The Top 90 Hard Rock + Metal Albums of the 1990s
10 Unforgettable Rage Against the Machine Moments