Rage Against The Machine Biography
Rage Against the Machine released their self-titled 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.
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 Audioslave with former Soundgarden frontman 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 1991, guitarist Tom Morello left his old band, Lock Up, looking to start another band. He was in a club in LA where Zack de la Rocha was freestyle rapping. Morello was impressed, people said, 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 punk band, Inside Out (also to be the title of the unrecorded Inside Out full-length album). Kent McClard, with whom Inside Out were associated, had coined the phrase in a 1989 article in his zine No Answers.
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. 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."
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 eight lines of lyrics. The uncensored version, which contains 17 iterations of the word fuck, was once played on the BBC Radio 1 Top 40 singles show. 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 Saigon in 1963 in protest of the murder of Buddhists by the US-backed Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm's regime. To promote the album and its core message of social justice and equality, the band went on tour, playing at Lollapalooza 1993 and as support for Suicidal Tendencies in 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 re-recorded the song "Darkness" from their original demo for the soundtrack of The Crow and also "No Shelter" appeared on the Godzilla soundtrack.
Despite rumors of a break up for several years, 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 US flags from their amplifiers ("a sign of distress or great danger"), a protest against having Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes as guest host on the program that night.
In 1997, the band opened for U2 on their PopMart Tour, for which all Rage's profits went to support social organizations. including U.N.I.T.E. , Women Alive and the Zapatista Front for National Liberation. 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."Wu-Tang Clan were 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 Boys on the "Rhyme and Reason" tour; however, the tour was canceled when Beastie Boys drummer Mike D suffered a serious injury.
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."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 album titled 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 Auditorium in Los Angeles. It was accompanied by an expanded DVD release 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 Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell to 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. 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.
Morello began his own solo career in 2003, playing political acoustic folk music at open-mic nights and various clubs under the alias The Nightwatchman. He first participated in Billy Bragg's Tell Us the Truth tour with no plans to record, 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. Morello followed up his first studio album with "The Fabled City" which was released on September 30, 2008.
Meanwhile, de la Rocha had been working on a solo album collaboration with DJ Shadow, Company Flow, and The Roots' Questlove, but dropped the project in favor of working with Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor. Recording was completed, but the album will probably never be released. A collaboration between de la Rocha and DJ Shadow, the song "March of Death" was released for free over the World Wide Web in 2003 in protest against the imminent invasion of Iraq, 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 jarana with Son Jarocho band Son de Madera on multiple occasions.
Members of the band had been offered large sums of money to reunite for concerts and tours, and had turned the offers down. 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 saw each other often and went surfing together, while Morello said he and de la Rocha communicated by phone, and had met up at a September 15, 2005 protest in support of the South Central Farm.
Rumors that Rage Against the Machine could reunite at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival were circulating in mid-January 2007, and were confirmed on January 22. The band was confirmed to be headlining the final day of Coachella 2007. 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 administration since RATM's dissolution. Though the performance was initially thought to be a one-off, 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 Workers rally in downtown Chicago. Morello described the event as "very exciting for everybody in the room, myself included."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.
Rage Against the Machine continued to tour in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan, 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 in Scotland, the Hultsfred Festival in Sweden, the Reading and Leeds Festivals in England and the Oxegen Festival in Ireland. The band also performed on August 2, 2008, in Chicago as one of the headliners (Radiohead, Kanye West and Nine Inch Nails being the other three) for the 2008 Lollapalooza Music Festival. When asked in May 2007 if the band were planning on writing a new album, Morello replied:
“ There are no plans to do that... That's a whole other ball of wax right there. Writing and recording albums is a whole different thing than getting back on the bike (laughs), you know, and playing these songs. But I think that the one thing about the Rage catalog is that to me none of it feels dated. You know, it doesn't feel at all like a nostalgia show. It feels like these are songs that were born and bred to be played now. ”
— Tom Morello, Blabbermouth.net, May 1, 2007
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. In July 2008, it was revealed that de la Rocha had begun a new project called One Day as a Lion with drummer Jon Theodore formerly of The Mars Volta, with an eponymous EP released on July 22, 2008. Tom Morello also began a new project with Boots Riley of The Coup called Street Sweeper Social Club, who toured with Nine Inch Nails and Jane's Addiction in the May 2009.
In August 2008, de la Rocha revealed his take on the possibility of new material:
“ We’re going to keep playing shows -- we have a couple of big ones happening in front of both conventions. As far as us recording music in the future, I don’t know where we all fit with that. We’ve all embraced each other’s projects and support them, and that’s great. ”
— Zack de la Rocha, Los Angeles Times, August 11, 2008
In December 2008, Tom Morello revealed that Rage Against the Machine shows in 2009 were a possibility, although plans for the band to record a new studio album were very unlikely. When asked by Billboard.com whether they planned to head to the studio in 2009, Morello stated that: "we've had a wonderful year and a half of playing shows, and I don't see any reason to not play more shows. The thing is there's only so many hours in the musical day, and mine are very occupied right now." Morello elaborated that The Nightwatchman is now "my principal musical focus, as I see it, for the remainder of my life. From the earliest days of playing open mic nights at coffee houses, it was apparent to me that this music was as important to me as any music I've ever been involved in. It really encapsulates everything I want to do as an artist."
In April 2009, Morello was asked about a new album from Rage Against The Machine, replied "Not anytime soon" but also said that "There may be some more Rage shows in the future". Currently, Morello is working on his new side project Street Sweeper Social Club with vocalist/emcee Boots Riley of the political hip hop group The Coup. The band opened for Nine Inch Nails and Jane's Addiction during their 2009 summer tour.