PROPHETS OF RAGE guitarist Tom Morello was interviewed on the October 29 edition of “Whiplash”, the KLOS radio show hosted by Full Metal Jackie. You can now listen to the chat using the widget below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):
On combining music and activism:
Tom: “My twin passions were always shredding guitar and political activism. It wasn’t really until I discovered bands like THE CLASH and PUBLIC ENEMY where those two things — where music and activism kind of came together. For me, I didn’t really choose to be a guitar player — that chose me, so I was stuck with my eight hours of practicing a day. I had that as my vocation, and I had to find a way to weave my convictions into it. I’ve been very fortunate with both RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE and PROPHETS OF RAGE to be able to make kick-ass songs, but songs with a message as well.”
On having played alongside a wide range of front men:
Tom: “I’ve been really blessed to play with some of the greatest vocalists, from singers to rappers, of all time. When you’re in a band with someone who is either rapping, or like with RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, whispering and hollering too, much of that music… it’s very riff-oriented, almost sort of like with a James Brown formula of leaning heavily on the ‘one.’ When you’re playing with singers, then melody and harmony play a greater part, so chord changes become a thing. The good news is that the people I’ve played with, those are really some of the titans of their genres, so I’ve been able to kind of blend my riffage and my chords in with people who already know what they’re doing very much.”
On the origins and goals of PROPHETS OF RAGE:
Tom: “I find myself sometimes surprised, you know, walking down the street, [and] people who are fans of my music still don’t really know what PROPHETS OF RAGE is. It’s a band that came together during the tumultuous election season of 2016 to kind of inject our musical voice into the debate. Then we found we loved playing together — we found the chemistry we had on stage was fantastic, and we’re a unique band in that we played in front of two and a half million people before we put out our first record, so we had this incredible… experience before we went into the studio. PROPHETS OF RAGE is a band that’s here to stay; this is just the beginning. We’re psyched about this record and think that it stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our best work.
“A lot of the lyrics for the band revolve around social justice issues, but first and foremost, we’re musicians, and when we play a show, when we’re writing a song, when we’re recording a song, it has to be kick-ass. No one wants to hear a college lecture put to a beat. The posters on my wall growing up were KISS and LED ZEPPELIN and AEROSMITH. The guitar players that I loved were Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads. There’s an element of substance to our lyrics that are different from KISS songs and LED ZEPPELIN songs, but first and foremost, the music has to connect. The jams have to be devastating, and the stage show, you have to destroy an audience in order for the message to get through.”
On the group’s dynamic behind the scenes:
Tom: “First of all, B-Real‘s in the band, so there’s a lot of smoke in the air. As somebody who does not smoke, I often have to wear, like, an oxygen tank at rehearsal just because the second-hand situation is completely out of control. It’s guys that love sports; there’s some pretty funny sons of guns in the band; and one of the reasons why we’re committed to being a band and staying a band is not just because of the political times, but we love playing together. It’s great to be in a band with five friends, and to hang out. That doesn’t always happen.”
On reconnecting with Chris Cornell earlier this year for an AUDIOSLAVE mini-reunion:
Tom: “It was the first time in twelve years that AUDIOSLAVE had played, and I’m so glad that we did that. It was great to play with him again. He was just shining. We had talked about playing more shows, and were enthusiastic about figuring that out. It’s such a tragedy that Chris passed. He was obviously one of the great rock vocalists of all time, and a really great dude. He’ll be sorely missed, but I’m so glad that we got to bask in his rock god presence one more time and play some of those AUDIOSLAVE jams.”
In addition to Morello, PROPHETS OF RAGE features his RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE bandmates Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk, as well as Chuck D and DJ Lord of PUBLIC ENEMY and B-Real of CYPRESS HILL. The band’s self-titled debut album was released in September.
The group, which plays songs from RAGE, PUBLIC ENEMY and CYPRESS in addition to original material, made its live debut in May 2016 in Los Angeles.
They will next perform at Ozzfest Meets Knotfest on November 4 in San Bernardino, California.
“Whiplash” airs every Sunday night from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on the Los Angeles radio station 95.5 KLOS. The show can be heard on the KLOS web site at 955klos.com or you can listen in on the KLOS channel on iHeartRadio.