Rage Against the Machine are not getting back together. For now, that much has been settled. However, in their place is Prophets of Rage, a new band consisting of three-fourths of Rage Against the Machine, Chuck D of Public Enemy and B-Real of Cypress Hill. Your first reaction might be to label the band a supergroup, but according to the band’s guitarist Tom Morello, you would be incorrect. Speaking to Rolling Stone recently, Morello, along with his new and old band mates, was quick to set the record straight about what exactly Prophets of Rage might be.
“We’re not a supergroup,” Morello told the music mag. “We’re an elite task force of revolutionary musicians determined to confront this mountain of election year bullshit, and confront it head-on with Marshall stacks blazing.” So yeah, not a supergroup. It might feel like one; might look like one. But no, it’s not a supergroup.
The Rolling Stone interview pulls back the curtain on the top secret project that was unveiled to the public in mid-May. What was initially thought to be a reunion of the legendary rap/rock band ended up being something similar, but ultimately different. It’s almost a Rage reunion, just with a different pair of vocalists behind the mic. The band is the second time that Morello, along with bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk, have put something together since Rage Against the Machine broke up in 2000. The first project was Audioslave, with Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell on vocals, and while the band looked good on paper and managed to have some hits, it never quite reached the heights of Rage. Prophets of Rage seems to be a better fit for all the parties involved, thanks in large part to the history that the band’s five members shared — a history that was broken down in the interview.
Wilk talked about the presence of both of Prophets of Rage’s rappers’ original groups in the early days of Rage Against the Machine, while Commerford reminisced about an early show the band played, opening for Public Enemy.
“When [the members of Rage Against the Machine] had just met, Zack got us tickets to a Public Enemy concert that was canceled since they were worried about riots,” Wilk said. “It was a really exciting time in music and we really connected to it. Zack, at the time, was heavily influenced by hip-hop. The first time I heard Cypress Hill was from Zack. He put in the tape in my car and was like, ‘Check this band out.’ I was like, ‘Holy shit! This is fucking awesome.’ Part of Rage’s DNA was turning each other on to other music… I think the fifth show we played as a band was at a college in San Luis Obispo with Public Enemy. We covered Cypress Hill’s “How Could I Just Kill a Man” on the Renegades album.
As for Prophets of Rage, it’s not all that surprising that Morello was the one who was instrumental in getting everyone together. Commerford says when the innovative guitarist “gets his head wrapped around something, it’s like a mental python.” Morello first approached Chuck D, via the rapper’s wife, with whom Morello knew through various political causes. B-Real came about later, responding enthusiastically after receiving a text from Morello.
“We’ve always talked about working together. He produced two songs on the Cypress Hill album Rise Up. When he called, I was more than motivated to do it. What he said to me was along the lines of, “The people need a voice right now. People need to hear these songs; a message.” I was all about that. I’m not necessarily known for being in the political realm outside of [marijuana] legalization and whatnot. But I do have my beliefs. I think he valued that and decided to give me a call. I agreed that people need a voice right now. If we can serve that, I’m all for it.”
Prophets of Rage will not solely be a glorified cover band, though, and they allude to writing new material. However, the band’s future is a little bit of a mystery after their first show sometime soon in Los Angeles. There are rumors that the group may show up in either/or Cleveland for the Republican National Convention or Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, but as of now, nothing is confirmed. However, based on Morello’s comments at the end of the interview, it definitely seems like a possibility. Check out the full interview over at Rolling Stone.
(Via Rolling Stone)