- Rage Against the Machine
Infobox musical artist
Name = Rage Against The Machine
Img_capt = RATM performing at the
Big Day Outfestival. L-R: Commerford, Wilk, De la Rocha and Morello.
Img_size = 250
Landscape = yes
Background = group_or_band
Origin = Los Angeles,
California, United States
Years_active = 1991–2000
Label = Epic
Audioslave Axis of Justice The Nightwatchman One Day as a Lion Inside Out
URL = [http://www.ratm.com/ www.ratm.com]
Zack de la Rocha Tom Morello Tim Commerford Brad Wilk
Rage Against the Machine (sometimes shortened to RATM or Rage) is an American
rap metalband, formed in Los Angeles, Californiain 1991. The band's lineup, unchanged since formation, consists of vocalist Zack de la Rocha, guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk. Rage Against the Machine is noted for its blend of punk rock, rap, heavy metal, and funkas well as its revolutionary politics and lyrics. Rage Against the Machine drew inspiration from early metal instrumentation, as well as rap acts such as Public Enemy, Urban Dance Squad, and Afrika Bambaataa.cite web|last=Ankeny|first=Jason|title=Rage Against the Machine - Biography|url=http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:kpfpxqw5ldje~T1 |publisher= Allmusic|year=2004|accessdate=2008-09-08] The group's music is distinguished primarily by their powerful stage energy, de la Rocha's rhyming styles and Morello's unorthodox guitar techniques.
Rage Against the Machine released their debut album "Rage Against the Machine" in 1992, which became a commercial success, leading to a slot in the 1993
Lollapalooza. The band did not release a follow-up record until 1996, with "Evil Empire". The band's third album "The Battle of Los Angeles" was released in 1999. During their initial nine year run, they became one of the most popular and influential political bands in contemporary music.Devenish, Colin (2001), "Rage Against the Machine": St. Martin's Griffin ISBN 0-312-27316-6]
In 2000, shortly after breaking up, the band released their fourth studio album "Renegades", which is comprised entirely of cover songs. Zack de la Rocha started a low-key solo career; the rest of the band formed the rock supergroup
Audioslavewith former Soundgardenfrontman Chris Cornell, which disbanded in 2007. In April 2007 Rage Against the Machine performed together for the first time in seven years at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The band has continued to perform at multiple live venues since. In July 2008, Zack de la Rocha released an EP by his long awaited project with ex- The Mars Voltadrummer Jon Theodore, One Day as a Lion.
Early years (1991–1992)
In 1991, guitarist Tom Morello left his old band, Lock Up, looking to start another band. He was in a club in L.A where Zack de la Rocha was
freestyle rapping. Morello was impressed by de la Rocha's lyric books, and asked him to be a rapper in a band. Morello drafted drummer Brad Wilk of Greta, who had previously auditioned for Lock Up, while de la Rocha convinced his childhood friend Tim Commerford to join as bassist. The newly christened Rage Against the Machine named themselves after a song de la Rocha had written for his former popular underground hardcore punkband, Inside Out(also to be the title of the unrecorded " Inside Out" full-length album). [Myers, Ben (October 16, 1999), [http://www.musicfanclubs.org/rage/articles/kerrang1099.htm Hello, Hello... ...It's Good To Be Back] , " Kerrang!". Retrieved February 27, 2007.] Kent McClard, with whom Inside Outwere associated, had coined the phrase in a 1989 article in his zine" No Answers". [McClard, Kent, [http://www.ebullition.com/catalog.html#5 History] of Ebullition Records. Retrieved February 19, 2007]
Shortly after forming, they gave their first public performance in
Orange County, California, where a friend of Commerford's was holding a house party. The blueprint for the group's major-label debut album, demo tape "Rage Against the Machine", was laid on a twelve-song self-released cassette, the cover image of which was the stock-market with a single match taped to the inlay card. Not all 12 songs made it onto the final album — two were eventually included as B-sides, with the remaining three songs never seeing an official release. [cite web | last = Woodlief | first = Mark | title = Rage Against the Machine | publisher = TrouserPress.com| url = http://www.trouserpress.com/entry.php?a=rage_against_the_machine | accessdate = 2008-09-08] Several record labels expressed interest, and the band eventually signed with Epic Records. Morello said, "Epic agreed to everything we asked — and they've followed through.... We never saw a [n] [ideological] conflict as long as we maintained creative control."cite web |url=http://www.ratm.de/faq/ragefaq.html |title=Rage Against the Machine FAQ |archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20060526032423/http://www.ratm.de/faq/ragefaq.html |archivedate=2006-05-26, Internet Archivecache of FAQ on the official Rage Against the Machine website. Retrieved February 17, 2007]
Mainstream success (1992–2000)
The band's debut album, "Rage Against the Machine", reached triple platinum status, driven by heavy radio play of the song "
Killing in the Name," a heavy, driving track featuring only six lines of lyrics. The uncensored version, which contains 17 iterations of the word " fuck", was once played on the BBC Radio 1Top 40 singles show. [cite web | last=Robinson | first=John | date=January 29, 2000 | title=The Revolution Will Not be Trivialised | work= NME| url=http://www.musicfanclubs.org/rage/articles/trivialized.htm | accessdate=2008-09-08] The album's cover featured Malcolm Browne's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Thích Quảng Đức, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, burning himself to death in Saigonin 1963 in protest of the murder of Buddhists by Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm's regime. To promote the album and its core message of social justiceand equality, the band went on tour, playing at Lollapalooza 1993 and as support for Suicidal Tendenciesin Europe.
After their debut album, the band appeared on the soundtrack for the film "
Higher Learning" with the song "Year of tha Boomerang." An early version of " Tire Me" also appeared during the movie. Subsequently, they recorded an original song, "Darkness," for the soundtrack of "The Crow" and also " No Shelter" appeared on the "Godzilla" soundtrack.Rage Against The Machine's second album, "Evil Empire", entered Billboard's Top 200 chart at number one in 1996. The song " Bulls on Parade" was performed on " Saturday Night Live" in April 1996. Their planned two-song performance was cut to one song when the band attempted to hang inverted American flags from their amplifiers (a sign of distress or great danger)",Anon., [http://www.musicfanclubs.org/rage/snl.htm Saturday Nigt Live Incident] , Public release and distribution. Retrieved November 12, 2007.] a protest against having Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbesas guest host on the program that night.
In 1997, the band opened for
U2on their PopMart Tour, for which all Rage's profits went to support social organizations. [cite web|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A730883|title=BBC.co.uk h2g2 entry for Rage Against the Machine] including U.N.I.T.E. , Women Alive and the Zapatista Front for National Liberation. [cite web |url=http://www.atu2.com/news/article.src?ID=997&Key=&Year=1997&Cat=2 |title=Rage Against the Machine and U2 Make a Perfect Pairing |accessdate=2008-09-08 |format=newspaper article |work=The State ] Rage subsequently began an abortive headlining US tour with special guests Wu-Tang Clan. Police in several jurisdictions unsuccessfully attempted to have the concerts cancelled, citing amongst other reasons, the bands' "violent and anti-law enforcement philosophies." [cite web |url=http://www.rwor.org/a/v19/920-29/925/rage.htm |title=Police Censorship Targets Rage |accessdate=2008-09-08 |format=online article |work=Revolutionary Worker #925 ] [cite web |url=http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=2559779&date=19970911 |title=Judge Gives Go-Ahead For Rage Concert Tomorrow At The Gorge |accessdate=2007-07-11 |format=newspaper article |work= Seattle Times] Wu-Tang Clanwere eventually removed from the line-up and replaced with The Roots. On the Japan leg of their tour promoting "Evil Empire", a bootleg album composed of the band's B-side recordings titled "Live & Rare" was released by Sony Records. A live video, also titled "Rage Against the Machine", was released later the same year.
The following release, "The Battle of Los Angeles" also debuted at number one in 1999, selling 450,000 copies the first week and then going double-platinum. That same year the song "Wake Up" was featured on the soundtrack of the film "
The Matrix". The track " Calm Like a Bomb" was later featured in the film's sequel, 2003s " The Matrix Reloaded". In 2000, the band planned to support the Beastie Boyson the "Rhyme and Reason" tour; however, the tour was canceled when Beastie Boys drummer Mike Dsuffered a serious injury. [cite web |url=http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/jessicasimpson/articles/story/5922676/really_randoms_jessica_simpson_oasis |title=Really Randoms: Jessica Simpson, Oasis |accessdate=2008-09-08 |format=magazine article |work= Rolling Stone]
Break-up and subsequent projects (2000–2005)
On October 18, 2000, de la Rocha released a statement announcing his departure from the band. He said, "I feel that it is now necessary to leave Rage because our decision-making process has completely failed. It is no longer meeting the aspirations of all four of us collectively as a band, and from my perspective, has undermined our artistic and political ideal."cite web | last=Armstrong | first=Mark | date=October 18, 2000 | title=Zack de la Rocha Leaves Rage Against the Machine | work=
MTV News| url=http://www.eonline.com/news/article/index.jsp?uuid=460baa38-4bb2-4eab-9395-22a301d24afb&entry=index | archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20080210182204/http://www.eonline.com/news/article/index.jsp?uuid=460baa38-4bb2-4eab-9395-22a301d24afb&entry=index | archivedate=2008-02-10 | accessdate=2008-09-08] The band's final studio album, "Renegades", released shortly after the band's dissolution, was a collection of covers of artists as diverse as Devo, Cypress Hill, MC5, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. The following year saw the release of another live video, " The Battle of Mexico City", and 2003 saw the release of a live albumtitled " Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium", an edited recording of the band's final two concerts on September 12 and 13, 2000 at the Grand Olympic Auditoriumin Los Angeles. [cite web|last=Bush|first=John|title="Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium" - Overview|url=http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:aifoxqr0ldde|publisher= Allmusic|year=2003|accessdate=2008-03-16] It was accompanied by an expanded DVDrelease of the last show, and also included the previously unreleased music video for "Bombtrack".
After the group's breakup, Morello, Wilk, and Commerford teamed up with former
Soundgardensinger Chris Cornellto form a new band, Audioslave, after briefly searching for a vocalist to replace De La Rocha. The first Audioslave single, "Cochise", was released in early November 2002, and the debut album, "Audioslave", followed to mainly positive reviews. Their second album " Out of Exile" debuted at the number one position on the Billboard charts in 2005.cite web | last = Harris | first = Chris | title = Audioslave Rage To First Billboard #1 | work = MTV News|date=June 1, 2005 | url = http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1503275/20050601/audioslave.jhtml | accessdate = 2008-08-30] The band released a third album named "Revelations" on September 5, 2006. The band vowed to have a "one-album-per-year" schedule, until the departure of Chris Cornell on February 15, 2007.cite web | last = Harris | first = Chris | title = Chris Cornell Talks Audioslave Split, Nixes Rumors Of Soundgarden Reunion | work = MTV News|date=February 15, 2007 | url = http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1552582/20070215/audioslave.jhtml | accessdate = 2007-02-16]
Morello began his own solo career in 2003, playing political acoustic
folk musicat open-mic nights and various clubs under the alias The Nightwatchman. He first participated in Billy Bragg's Tell Us the Truth tour [cite web | last=Wiederhorn | first=Jon | title=Tom Morello Rages Against A New Machine On Solo Acoustic Tour | work= MTV News| date=October 22, 2003 | url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1479880/20031022/audioslave.jhtml | accessdate=2008-09-08] with no plans to record, [cite web | last=Moss | first=Corey | title=Audioslave's Morello Says New LP Feels Less Like Soundgarden + Rage | work= MTV News| date=July 29, 2004 | url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1489715/20040726/audioslave.jhtml | accessdate=2008-09-08] but later recorded a song for " Songs and Artists that Inspired Fahrenheit 9/11", "No One Left". In February 2007, he announced a solo album, entitled " One Man Revolution", which was released in April 2007.cite web | last=Harris | first=Chris | date=February 6, 2007 | title=Nightwatchman, Rage Reunion Have Morello Fired Up For Political Fights | work= MTV News| url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1551733/20070206/morello_tom.jhtml | accessdate=2007-02-18]
Meanwhile, de la Rocha had been working on a solo album collaboration with
DJ Shadow, Company Flow, and The Roots' ?uestlove, but dropped the project in favor of working with Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor.cite web | last = Moss | first = Corey | title = Reznor Says Collabos With De La Rocha, Keenan May Never Surface | work = MTV News| date = May 10, 2005 | url = http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1501617/20050510/reznor_trent.jhtml | accessdate = 2007-02-17] Recording was completed, but the album will probably never be released. [cite web | last = Gargano | first = Paul | title = Nine Inch Nails (interview) | work = Maximum Ink Music Magazine |month=October | year=2005 | url = http://www.maximumink.com/articles.php?articleId=845 | accessdate = 2008-09-08] A collaboration between de la Rocha and DJ Shadow, the song "March of Death" was released for free over the World Wide Webin 2003 in protest against the imminent invasion of Iraq, [ [http://www.zackdelarocha.com/ Zack de la Rocha.com] , official website promoting "March of Death". Retrieved February 17, 2007.] and the 2004 soundtrack " Songs and Artists that Inspired Fahrenheit 9/11" included one of the collaborations with Reznor, "We Want It All". In late 2005, de la Rocha was seen singing and playing the jaranawith Son Jarochoband Son de Madera on multiple occasions. ["King of Rage Onstage Again" (February 2006), "Spin".]
Members of the band had been offered large sums of money to reunite for concerts and tours, and had turned the offers down. [cite web | title = Chris Cornell Working on Solo Release - But Dismisses Rumors of Audioslave Split | work =
MTV News| publisher = MTV.com | url =http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1537179/20060726/cornell_chris.jhtml?headlines=true | accessdate = 2008-09-08] Rumors of bad blood between de la Rocha and the other former band members subsequently circulated, but Commerford said that he and de la Rocha see each other often and go surfing together, while Morello said he and de la Rocha communicate by phone, and had met up at a September 15, 2005 protest in support of the South Central Farm. ["Rockline" interviews Audioslave. August 29, 2006.]
Rumors that Rage Against the Machine could reunite at the
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festivalwere circulating in mid-January 2007, [cite web | last = Cohen | first = Jonathan | authorlink = Jonathan Cohen | title = Morello Goes Solo, Rage To Reunite? | work = Billboard | publisher = Billboard.com | date = January 19, 2007 | url = http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003535273 | accessdate = 2008-09-08] and were confirmed on January 22. [cite web | last = Boucher | first = Geoff | title = Rage Against the Machine will reunite for Coachella | work = Los Angeles Times| publisher = LATimes.com | date = January 22, 2007 | url = http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/music/la-et-coachella22jan22,1,6747076.story?coll=la-headlines-entnews&ctrack=1&cset=true | accessdate = 2007-01-22] The band was confirmed to be headlining the final day of Coachella 2007. [cite web | last = Finn | first = Natalie | title = Rage On at Coachella | work = E! News| publisher = EOnline.com | date = January 22, 2007 | url =http://www.eonline.com/news/article/index.jsp?uuid=66ffd892-90fe-44c0-8b4c-edab6e3990f3&entry=index | archiveurl =http://web.archive.org/web/20080211094230/http://www.eonline.com/news/article/index.jsp?uuid=66ffd892-90fe-44c0-8b4c-edab6e3990f3&entry=index | archivedate=2008-02-11 | accessdate = 2008-09-08] The reunion was described by Morello as primarily being a vehicle to voice the band's opposition to the "right-wing purgatory" the United States has "slid into" under the George W. Bush administrationsince RATM's dissolution. [cite web | title = Rage Against the Machine discuss reunion | publisher = NME|date=February 2, 2007 | url = http://www.nme.com/news/rage-against-the-machine/26197 | accessdate = 2008-09-08] Though the performance was initially thought to be a one-off, [cite web | last = Cohen | first = Jonathan | authorlink = Jonathan Cohen | title = Rage, Bjork, Chili Peppers Sign On For Coachella | work = Billboard | publisher = Billboard.com | date = January 22, 2007 | url = http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003535501 | accessdate = 2008-09-08] this turned out not to be the case.
On April 14, 2007, Morello and de la Rocha reunited onstage early to perform a brief acoustic set at a
Coalition of Immokalee Workersrally in downtown Chicago. Morello described the event as "very exciting for everybody in the room, myself included." [cite web | date=April 20, 2007 | title=Rage Against the Machine Guitarist Calls Rally Performance 'Very Exciting' | work=Launch Radio Networks | publisher=93X Rock News| url=http://93x.com/blog.asp?id=390561&SBID=4444 | accessdate=2008-09-08] This was followed by the scheduled Coachella performance on Sunday, April 29 where the band staged a much anticipated performance in front of an EZLN backdrop to the largest crowds of the festival.cite web | last=Staff Writer | date=April 30, 2007 | title=Rage Against the Machine reunite at Coachella | work= NME| url=http://www.nme.com/news/coachella/28013 | accessdate=2008-09-08] cite web | last=Sulugiuc | first=Gelu |date=April 30, 2007 | title=Rage Against the Machine reunites | work=Reuters | publisher=Yahoo! News | url=http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070430/en_nm/rage_dc | archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20070503155703/http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070430/en_nm/rage_dc | archivedate=2007-05-03 | accessdate=2008-09-08] cite web | last=Moss | first=Corey |date=April 30, 2007 | title=Rage Against the Machine's Ferocious Reunion Caps Coachella's Final Night | work= MTV News| publisher=MTV.com | url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1558334/20070430/rage_against_the_machine.jhtml | accessdate=2008-09-08]
Rage Against the Machine has continued to tour the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan, [cite web | first=cecbuzz | date=September 19, 2007 | title=Rage Against the Machine tour announced | work=fasterlouder.com.au | publisher=www.fasterlouder.com.au | url=http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/news/local/10520/Rage-Against-the-Machine-tour-announced.htm | accessdate=2008-09-08] and also played a series of shows in Europe in Summer 2008 including
Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, Pinkpop Festival, T in the Park, the Hultsfred Festivalin Sweden, the Reading and Leeds Festivalsin England and the OxegenFestival in Ireland. The band also performed on August 2, 2008, in Chicagoas one of the headlines ( Radiohead, Kanye Westand Nine Inch Nailsbeing the other three) for the 2008 LollapaloozaMusic Festival. When asked in May 2007 if the band were planning on writing a new album, Morello replied:
More recently, as of April 7, 2008, Morello has reportedly chosen not to comment about the possibility of a new album when interviewed by
MTV News. [cite news| last=Harris|first=Chris|title=Tom Morello Talks Obama, Not Rage Against The Machine, On Set Of Anti-Flag Video|url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1584964/20080407/anti_flag.jhtml|work=MTV News|date=2008-04-07|accessdate=2008-04-24] In July 2008, it was revealed that de la Rocha had begun a new project called One Day as a Lionwith drummer Jon Theodoreformerly of The Mars Volta, with an eponymous EP released on July 22, 2008. [cite web|url=http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=380021|title=Anti Records Signs One Day as a Lion|last=Tao|first=Paul|date= July 1, 2008|publisher=Absolutepunk.net|accessdate=2008-07-02]
In August 2008, de la Rocha revealed his take on the possibility of new material:
Political views and activism
Integral to their identity as a band, Rage Against the Machine voice
revolutionary viewpoints highly critical of the domestic and foreign policies of the U.S. government. Throughout its existence, RATM and its individual members participated in political protests and other activismto advocate these beliefs. The band primarily saw its music as a vehicle for social activism; de la Rocha explained that "I'm interested in spreading those ideas through art, because music has the power to cross borders, to break military sieges and to establish real dialogue."Wooldridge, Simon (February 2000), " [http://musicfanclubs.org/rage/articles/juice00.htm Fight the Power] ", " Juice Magazine". Retrieved October 6, 2007.] Morello said of wage slaveryin America:
Meanwhile, detractors pointed out the tension between voicing commitment to leftist causes while being millionaires signed to
Epic Records, a subsidiaryof media conglomerate Sony Records. [cite web|title=Rage On: The strange politics of millionaire rock stars|url=http://www.reason.com/news/show/27818.html|publisher=Reason Online|accessdate=2008-09-04] Infectious Groovesreleased a song called "Do What I Tell Ya!" which mocks lyrics from "Killing in the Name", accusing the band of being hypocrites. In response to such critiques, Morello offered the rebuttal:
At the Coachella 2007 performance, De la Rocha made an impassioned speech during "Wake Up", citing a statement by
Noam Chomskyregarding the Nuremberg Trials,cite web|title=On Democracy, Noam Chomsky interviewed by Tom Morello|url=http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/1996summer.htm |publisher=chomsky.info|accessdate=2008-08-05] as follows:
The event led to a media furore. A clip of Zack's speech found its way to the Fox News program "Hannity & Colmes." An on-screen headline read, "Rock group Rage Against the Machine says Bush admin should be shot."
Ann Coulter, a right-wing political commentator, (a guest on the show) stated, "They’re losers, their fans are losers, and there’s a lot of violence coming from the left wing." [cite web | date=May 4, 2007 | title=Rage Against Bush | work=Spin | url=http://www.spin.com/features/everybodystalkingabout/2007/05/070504_rage/ | accessdate=2007-05-15] On July 28 and 29, Rage co-headlined the hip hop festival Rock the Bells. On July 28, they made a speech during Wake Up just as they had done at Coachella. During this, De La Rocha made another statement, defending the band from Fox News, who he alleged misquoted his speech at Coachella:
Subsequently, de la Rocha added
Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister who supported and facilitated Bush's war plans, to the list of those who ought to be tried and hung. The Reading Festival crowd on the August 22, 2008 overwhelmingly agreed. The Reading and Leeds Festivalsorganizer announced after the 2008 festival that Zack had requested Friday and Saturday slots specifically so he could be back in the U.S. for the Democratic and Republican conventions taking place in the week of the 25th. [cite web |url=http://www.nme.com/news/rage-against-the-machine/39228 |title=Rage Against The Machine planning stunt for Republican Convention |accessdate=2008-08-26 |work= NME|publisher= NME.com |date=2008-08-25 ]
On August 27, 2008, Rage Against the Machine played a free concert in
Denverat the Denver Coliseumduring the 2008 Democratic National Conventionin protest of the war in Iraq. After the concert, the band joined members of The Coupand Flobotsin an anti-war protest march from the Denver Coliseumto the Pepsi Center[cite web|url=http://www.denverpost.com/ci_10201881|title=Rage Against the Machine to play war-protest concert in Denver|publisher=Denver Post|accessdate=2008-09-08] led by Iraq Veterans Against the War; where they successfully delivered their anti-war message and demands to the Barack Obamacampaign.
The band are vocal supporters of the
Zapatista Army of National Liberation(EZLN), especially de la Rocha, who has taken several trips to the Mexican state of Chiapasto aid their efforts. The flag of the EZLN serves as the primary recurring theme in the band's visual art. Morello described the EZLN as "a guerrilla army who represent the poor indigenous communities in southern Mexico who, for hundreds of years, have been trodden upon and sort of cast aside and which really are the lowest form on the economic -social ladder in Mexico. In 1994, on New Years Day, there was an uprising there and they were led by the very charismatic Subcomandante Marcosand it's a group which is tremendously supportive of the most objectively poor and continues to fight for dignity, for all people in Mexico." [ [http://musicfanclubs.org/rage/articles/jjj.htm Tom Morello interview] on Triple J, October 31, 1999.] An interviewer was once told by de la Rocha, "Our purpose in sympathising with the Zapatistas is to help spark [real] dialogue."
De la Rocha has been particularly outspoken on the cause of the EZLN. He explained the importance of the cause to him personally:
The EZLN flag has been used as a stage backdrop at all of the bands shows since their reunion in April, 2007.
aturday Night Live
On April 10, 1996 the band was scheduled to perform two songs on the
NBCcomedy variety show " Saturday Night Live". The show was hosted that night by ex-Republican presidential candidate and billionaire Steve Forbes. According to an unidentified RATM member, "RATM wanted to stand in sharp juxtaposition to a billionaire telling jokes and promoting his flat taxby making our own statement."To this end, the band hung two upside-down American flags from their amplifiers. Seconds before they took the stage to perform " Bulls on Parade", SNL and NBC sent stagehands in to pull the flags down. [cite web|title=Rage Against the Machine|url=http://www.esquilax.com/flag/ratm.shtml|work=The Flag Burning Page|date=|accessdate=2008-03-16] The inverted flags, says Morello, represented: cquote2|Our contention that American democracy is inverted when what passes for democracy is an electoral choice between two representatives of the privileged class. America's freedom of expressionis inverted when you're free to say anything you want to say until it upsets a corporate sponsor. Finally, this was our way of expressing our opinion of the show's host, Steve Forbes.
The band's first attempt to hang the flags during a pre-telecast rehearsal on Thursday were frustrated by SNL's producers, who "demanded that we take the flags down," according to Morello, "They said the sponsors would be upset, and that because Steve Forbes was on, they had to run a 'tighter' show." SNL also told the band it would mute objectionable lyrics in "Bullet in the Head" (which was supposed to be RATM's second song), and insisted that the song be bleeped in the studio because Forbes had friends and family there.
On the night of the show, following the removal of the flags during the first performance, the band was approached by SNL and NBC officials and ordered to immediately leave the building. Upon hearing this, RATM bassist Commerford reportedly stormed Forbes' dressing room, throwing shreds from one of the torn down flags.Morello noted that members of the Saturday Night Live cast and crew, whom he declined to name, " [e] xpressed solidarity with our actions, and a sense of shame that their show had censored the performance."
Radio Free L.A.
"Radio Free Los Angeles" was a radio show held by the band on January 20, 1997, the night of Bill Clinton's inauguration as President. [cite web|url=http://www.mediacast.com/Calendar/97-01-20/Radio_Free_L.A./|title=Radio Free L.A. - Mon, Jan 20, 1997 ] The show comprised segments and interviews featuring
Michael Moore, Emily Hodgson, Leonard Peltier, Chuck D, Mumia Abu-Jamal, UNITE, Noam Chomsky, Amy Rayof the Indigo Girls, and Subcomandante Marcosof the Zapatistas.cite web |url=http://www.ratm.com/new2/radiofree.html |title= Radio Free L.A. |archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20071125090129/http://www.ratm.com/new2/radiofree.html |archivedate=2007-11-25 at RATM.com] ] These were intercut with musical performances by Morello, de la Rocha, Flea and Stephen Perkinsplaying different versions of Rage songs, and also Beckand Cypress Hillplaying their own songs. The band organized and played the show in response to the re-election of Clinton:
The two-hour show was syndicated by over 50 commercial U.S. radio stationscite web |url=http://www.ratm.com/new2/timeline/index.html |title= Official RATM timeline |archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20071121222513/http://www.ratm.com/new2/timeline/index.html |archivedate=2007-11-21 at [http://www.ratm.com/ ratm.com] .] and streamed live from the band's website. Transcripts of the interviews are freely available online. [cite web|url=http://www.musicfanclubs.org/rage/fire.htm|title=Transcript of interview with Subcommandante Marcos for Radio Free L.A.]
"Sleep Now in the Fire" video shoot
On January 26, 2000, filming of the
music videofor " Sleep Now in the Fire", which was directed by Michael Moore, caused the doors of the New York Stock Exchangeto be closed and the band to be escorted from the site by security,cite web | date=March 15, 2000 | title=Rage against Wall Street | work= Green Left Weekly"#397" | url=http://www.greenleft.org.au/2000/397/24186 | accessdate=2008-09-08] after band members attempted to gain entry into the Exchange. [cite web | last=Basham | first=David | date=January 28, 2000 | title=Rage Against the Machine Shoots New Video With Michael Moore | work= MTV News| url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1433553/20000128/rage_against_the_machine.jhtml | accessdate=2008-09-08]
Footage of enthusiastic Wall Street employees
headbangingto Rage's music was used in the final video. "We decided to shoot this video in the belly of the beast", said Moore, who was threatened with arrest during the shooting of the video despite Moore having a federal permit.
2000 Democratic National Convention
RATM played a free concert at the
2000 Democratic National Conventionin protest of the two-party system. The band had been considering playing a protest concert there since April of that year.cite web | last=Asch | first=Andrew | date=August 15, 2000 | title=Rage Wage Battle of Los Angeles at DNC | work= Rolling Stone| url=http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/rageagainstthemachine/articles/story/5923647/rage_wage_battle_of_los_angeles_at_dnc | accessdate=2008-09-08] Although they were at first required by the City of Los Angeles to perform in a small venue at a considerable distance, early in August a United States district courtjudge ruled that the City's request was too restrictive and the City subsequently allowed the protests and concert to be held at a site across from the DNC. The police response was to increase security measures, which included a 12 ft fence and patrolling by a minimum of 2,000 officers wearing riot gear, as well as additional horses, motorcycles, squad cars and police helicopters.cite web |date=August 14, 200 | title=Protest concert due tonight outside convention: Security tight in Los Angeles | work= CNN| url=http://archives.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/08/14/campaign.protest.01/index.html | accessdate=2007-02-19] A police spokesperson said they were "gravely concerned because of security reasons".
During the concert, de la Rocha said to the crowd, "brothers and sisters, our democracy has been hijacked," and later also shouted "we have a right to oppose these motherfuckers!"cite web | last=Bleyer | first=Jennifer |date=August 15, 200 | title=LAPD unleashes horses-pepper spray-rubber bullets | work=Scoop Independent News | publisher=
Indymedia| url=http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0008/S00077.htm | accessdate=2008-09-08] After the performance, a small group of attendees congregated at the point in the protest area closest to the DNC, facing the police officers, throwing rocks,cite web | last=York | first=Anthony |date=August 15, 200 | title=Rage against the cops | work=Salon.com Politics | url=http://archive.salon.com/politics/feature/2000/08/14/rage/index.html | accessdate=2008-09-08] and possibly engaging in more violent activity, such as throwing glass, concrete and water bottles filled with "noxious agents,"cite web | last=White | first=Jerry |date=August 17, 200 | title=Los Angeles police attack protesters at Democratic convention | work=World Socialist Web Site | url=http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/aug2000/la-a17.shtml | accessdate=2008-09-08] spraying ammoniaon police and slingshotting rocks and steel balls.cite web |date=August 15, 200 | title=Convention opens to protests, rubber bullets | work= CNN| url=http://archives.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/08/15/cvn..protests.ap/index.html | accessdate=2007-02-19] The police soon after declared the gathering an unlawful assembly, shut off the electrical supply, interrupting performing band Ozomatli, and informed the protestors that they had 15 minutes to disperse on pain of arrest.cite web |date=August 15, 200 | title=Police defend use of pepper spray, rubber bullets at Democratic Convention protest | work= CNN| url=http://archives.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/08/15/convention.protests.02/index.html | accessdate=2007-02-19] Some of the protestors remained, however, including two young men who climbed the fence and waved black flags, who were subsequently shot in the face with pepper spray. Police then forcibly dispersed the crowd, using tear gas, pepper sprayand rubber bullets. At least six people were arrested in the incident.
The police faced severe and broad criticism for their reaction, with an
American Civil Liberties Unionspokesperson saying that it was "nothing less than an orchestrated police riot." Several primary witnesses reported unnecessarily violent actions and police abuses, including firing on reporters and people obeying police commands. Police responded that their response was "outstanding" and "clearly disciplined." De la Rocha said of the incident, "I don't care what fucking television stations said, [that] the violence was caused by the people at the concert; those motherfuckers unloaded on this crowd. And I think it's ridiculous considering, you know, none of us had rubber bullets, none of us had M16s, none of us had billy clubs, none of us had face shields." ["Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium" DVD, Grand Olympic Auditorium performance, part of de la Rocha's speech.]
Footage of the protest and ensuing violence, along with an
MTV Newsreport on the incident, was included in the "Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium" DVD.
2008 Republican National Convention
On September 2, 2008, Rage Against the Machine was scheduled to play a free show in
St. Paul, Minnesotaon the State Capital lawn for Ripple Effect. Tom Morelloasked SuicideGirlsto edit what happened at the conventions. Quoted, he said, "They showed up at exactly the time we were scheduled to perform, and as soon as we got out of our vehicle we were immediately surrounded by riot police who told us if we approached the stage we'd be arrested for playing music. They said that we were not on a permit for the day's show. We produced the permit and showed them that none of the artists that had already been playing for the previous four hours, including Anti-Flagand Michael Franti, none of the artists were listed on the permits. They just tried to use that as an excuse to stop us from playing. We were there right on time to play and they physically barred us from getting onto the stage because they were afraid of the music we were going to play.
Imagine if in Beijing during the Olympics a Chinese band whose songs were critical of the government was told they'd be arrested if they attempted to sing those songs in a public forum -- there would have been an international human rights outcry. But that's exactly what happened in Minnesota. But this is a band that has made a living singing a song that goes "fuck you, I won't do what you tell me," so we weren't about to go back to the hotel with our tails between our legs. So we out-flanked the police line and went into the middle of the crowd, and played a couple of songs passing a bull horn back and forth, and it seemed to go over pretty well." [ [http://suicidegirls.com/interviews/Tom+Morello%3A+Raging+Against+the+Machine/ Tom Morello interview] on suicidegirls.com. Retrieved on
30 September 2008.] After unsuccessfully arguing with officials about playing, they walked into the crowd and sang " Bulls on Parade" and " Killing in the Name" a cappellawith megaphones. [cite web|url=http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/soundboard/2008/09/i-regret-not-ma.html|title=Rage Against the Machine in Minnesota and the state of political pop|publisher=LA Times|accessdate=2008-09-08] Afterward, they led the march towards the Convention, but left just before the end.
On September 3, 2008, the band played a concert in
Minneapolisat the Target Center, on the second day of the Republican National Convention. An impromptu demonstration spilled out into the streets afterwards. 102 people were arrested as riot police ended the gathering.
The band are advocates for the release of former Black Panther and
Death Rowinmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of murdering a police officer, and for whom they wrote and recorded the track "Voice of the Voiceless" for their 1999 album "The Battle of Los Angeles". The band performed at a benefit concert with all proceeds donated to the International Concerned Family And Friends Of Mumia Abu-Jamal, and de la Rocha spoke before the United Nations Commission on Human Rightsin support of Abu-Jamal.cite book | last = Mciver | first = Joel | title = Nu metal - the Next Generation of Rock & Punk | publisher = Omnibus Press | location = London | year = 2002 | isbn = 9780711992092 ] The band also raised funds and awareness for political activist and convicted double-murderer Leonard Peltier, and documented his case in the video for "Freedom".
At a 1993
Lollapaloozaappearance in Philadelphia, the band stood onstage nakedfor 15 minutes with duct tapeon their mouths and the letters "PMRC" painted on their chests in protest against censorshipby the Parents Music Resource Center.cite web |url= http://www.velvetland.org/music/MUSES/Rage_Against_The_Machine/home.htm |title= Rage Against the Machine |publisher= Velvetland.org |accessdate= 2008-09-08 (Image of PMRC protest available at this site.)] Refusing to play, they stood in silence with the sound emitted being only audio feedbackfrom Morello and Commerford's guitars. The band later played a free show for disappointed fans.Micallef, Ken (March 1996), [http://www.musicfanclubs.org/rage/articles/drummer.htm Rage Against The Machine's Brad Wilk] , " Modern Drummer". Retrieved February 17, 2007.] Tom Morello was arrested for civil disobediencein October 1997 during a union protest by garment workers and their supporters against the use of sweatshoplabor by Guess?. Billboards subsequently appeared in Las Vegas and New Yorkfeaturing a photograph of the band with the caption "Rage Against Sweatshops: We Don't Wear Guess? – A Message from Rage Against the Machine and UNITE (Union of Needletrades Industrial and Textile Employees)."
Some other controversial stands taken include that of the music video for the song "Bombtrack", in which RATM expresses support for the
Peruvian guerilla organization Shining Pathand their incarcerated leader Abimael Guzmán. Over its career, the band played benefit concerts for organizations such as Rock for Choice, the Anti-Nazi League, the United Farm Workers, children's care organization Para Los Niños and UNITE.cite web |url=http://www.ratm.com/new2/timeline/index.html |title= Rage Against the Machine: A Time Line |archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20071121222513/http://www.ratm.com/new2/timeline/index.html |archivedate=2007-11-21, time line of RATM's career, official website. Retrieved February 19, 2007.] 1994 saw the band organizing Latinpalooza, a joint benefit concert for the Leonard Peltier Defense Fund, and Para Los Niños. The band also raised funds for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, the National Commission for Democracy in Mexico, Women Alive, and played at the Tibetan Freedom Concerton more than one occasion. Album liner notes contained promotional material for AK Press, Amnesty International, the Committee to Support the Revolution in Peru, the Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic, Indymedia, Mass Mic, Parents for Rock and Rap, the Popular Resource Center, RE: GENERATION, Refuse and Resist, Revolution Books, the "Rock & Rap Confidential", and Voices in the Wilderness. When the band headlined Reading Festivalon August 22, 2008, and the Pinkpop Festivalon June 1, 2008 they came onstage to the sound of a prison klaxon, dressed in orange prison jumpsuits with black sacks over their heads, presumably in reference to the conditions of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. They remained silent onstage for around a minute until being led to their instruments and performing their opening song, Bombtrack, still in the prison outfits. Zack de la Rochaalso repeated his 'trial George Bush for war crimes' speech during the song "Wake Up", but also cited Tony Blairas a criminal, telling the crowd:
"Last April I came over and said a few things. And the next day Rupert Murdoch's Fox News ran a piece on us saying that I said the President should be assassinated. I need to reframe what we said so that a band can stand up and tell the truth. What we said is that President Bush and the whole administration should be brought in front of a trial for War Crimes and hung. And based on all the news we saw of all of you marching in the street before the war makes me think that Tony Blair should be right up alongside him.
This made me think what are they so afraid of? Are they afraid, really afraid, of four musicians from Los Angeles who speak their minds? I don't think so. You wanna know what the fuck they're so afraid of? They're scared of you. They're scared coz they know that if they don't start pulling all those troops out of Iraq, all those poor soldiers left in the desert to die, that you might go and start some shit in the streets, that you might stop working, that you might get together and organise a strike to stop them from ever invading another country again. That's what they're scared of."
* [http://www.ratm.com/ Official Website]
* [http://www.axisofjustice.org/ Axis of Justice] Tom Morello and
Serj Tankian's Activist Website " Axis Of Justice"
* [http://www.vietnow.org/ Vietnow.org] Rage Against The Machine news resource and forum
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