It all started with a tweet. The 12 of April of last year, Tom Morello was watching CNN when he saw the news: “the Triumph waged against the REPUBLICAN party machine.” Rage against the Machine, the pioneer of THE rap-metal band that Morello formed in 1991, may have been the most radical left-wing group to title stadiums, but a catchy name is bound to be commandeered for other types of rage against the machines. Morello took a screenshot and twitter with the words: “This is not exactly what you were thinking.”
Clearly the gods of the protest song were telling him to do something. Less than two months later, Morello formed the supergroup of the Prophets of Rage, a kind of rap-rock of the Avengers with Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford of Rage, Chuck D and DJ Lord of Public Enemy and B-Real of Cypress Hill. “This was a five alarm fire,” says Morello. “Raise your hand if you want to save the country!”
Rage against the Machine, Chuck D, and B-Real, the supergroup
The band’s three main members are sitting around a table in London shortly after the uk general election produced a result that confuses even this politically savvy trio. “Does anyone know what is going on?” Morello question. “What is lost? Did he win the prize?”
Is this how you planned your tour? “Right,” Morello laughs. “Where is your controversial choice? Book!”
The situation is quite volatile and back home as well. Do you think Trump will have a duration of four years?
“Nothing surprises me with this guy,” B-Real drawls. “He has a fucking rabbit’s foot or four-leaf clover in your pocket.”
“I have a crazy theory,” Chuck offers, smiling. “I think Melania is his way out. Because she hates that position. “I was a multi-millionaire wife. I could go where I wanted, without anyone looking at me. I don’t give a fuck about this president shit. Do this shit, I’m out of here!'”
‘This is brutality,” … the Prophets of Rage perform during the year 2016 at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo: Alex Markow/Getty Images
They all roar with laughter. Together, these burly, battle-hardened veterans (B-Real is 47, Morello 53 and the Chuck 57) project bustling good humor instead of anger. Have been known since the early 90s, when Public Enemy and Rage is defined protest music of a generation: fierce, relentless, unyielding. Cypress Hill were the traveling companions musically, if not politically. Your maximum priority of the policy, in the who took a close personal interest, was the legalization of marijuana. “When you’re young, you’re distracted by life,” B-Real explained. “As I got older I am less tolerant of the shit.”
Just this week, the group “took a knee” to show their solidarity with the American football players who have been silently knelt during the national anthem to protest racial injustice – a protest that has had the Triumph of Twitter finger itching, with the president calling for a boycott of the NFL. “It is interesting to note that when the athletes take a knee in order to protest against racism, which the law is viewed by some as “un-American”,” Morello wrote to me this week. “Why? Because racism is as American as baseball or apple pie. For some, the flag is a symbol of evolution, but imperfect democracy. But that flag is stamped on every US jet that destroys a civilian hospital in Afghanistan and in the uniform of every police officer who kills an innocent black person in a city of united states. That flag also appears on the flap of Donald Trump.”
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Unlike B-Real, Morello has been an activist since the first day. As comfortable playing acoustic songs of protest at rallies and sit-ins as he is headlining at sports venues with Rage, Audioslave and the E Street Band, one of the few musicians with the charisma and intellectual strength to make a good politician. He once jokingly described Barack Obama as his “alter ego” – born three years apart, both had parents who were active in the politics of Kenya, white American mothers from Harvard and degrees – and there is an Obamaesque quality for your unabashed eloquence and soft, commanding baritone.
“My star of the north has been the same since I was 16 years of age,” he says. “And is that the world is run by people who don’t deserve to run it, and the grotesque of the gap of social and economic equality is one that deserves all the attention until he did the right thing.”
The first person that he called the past month of April was Chuck. “I thought my plate was already full,” the rapper says. “But Tom was insistent, and then my father passed and I couldn’t get enough out of this planet. I thought that it was time for a challenge of life.” But he didn’t want to be a frontman again, so he agreed only when Morello suggested that you ask B-Real, also. “I was like, ‘Yeeeeesss!’ I had my fingers crossed.”
“It’s a lot like football,” says B-Real, who signed up at the moment. “You’ve got your regional teams and, then, ask the best players to come and play for the national team – the all-stars. That is what this is. We still play for the Public Enemy and Cypress Hill, but when it’s time to go for the world championship is Prophets of Rage.”
Due to that the two MCs would be the realization of several Rage songs, is requesting approval of Zack de la Rocha who quit Rage in the year 2000 to make a solo album that still has not materialized. When the band reunited for sporadic live dates between 2007 and 2011, who did not know a note of new music. “Artists work at their own pace,” Morello says diplomatically. “We have only done three studio albums of original material. Out of Rage against the Machine have done 13. It is important to get Zack a blessing, and he was precious to say, ‘Go get ’em.'”
‘We are like the all-stars’ … the Prophets of Rage perform at the 9:30 Club in Washington. Photo: Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP
Prophets of Rage (named after 1988, the Public Enemy track) debuted with a pair of Do of the united states of fashion again shows this past summer, two of them in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention, the reconfiguration of the highlights of their three catalogs. “We wanted to make sure that what we saw in the paper actually worked,” says B-Real. Their chemistry extended to the songwriting, giving rise to an explosive self-titled album was produced by Brendan O’brien. They have been focused due to Trump, but they insist that I was still going to be together, even if Hillary Clinton in the White House.
“We don’t want the catastrophe to happen just so we can be a group,” says Chuck. “There’s a lot of shit to talk about.”
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“I would say that the struggle for human liberation, both at home and abroad, preceded by Victory and goes after Trump,” Morello says. “There’s a lot of fodder for the Prophets to rage against.”
However, the chair makes a great lightning rod. On the 20th of January, the band played an Anti-inaugural Ball in Los Angeles, where Chris Cornell joined them to perform a few songs from Audioslave for the first time in 12 years. It was the last time they saw each other before Cornell suicide in May.
“There is No silver lining to your step, but I feel better that we were able to share the stage again,” says Morello. “He was a good friend:” If it is important for you to play Cuba, we are going to go and play in Cuba. If you’re playing a show to raise the minimum wage, I’d love to play some songs with you.’ He responded to the call.”
Another old friend, Michael Moore directed the video for the Prophets of Rage just Unfuck the World. Moore video for the Fury of the 2000 single Sleep Now in the Fire has been eerily prophetic in one respect. In a framework in Wall Street, the guy holding a banner: “Donald J Trump for President.” Morello raises an eyebrow. “The joke became a reality.”
You would expect Morello union with Moore. Least with Ted Nugent, the ultra-conservative rocker who recently dined with the Triumph in the White House and was once investigated by the secret service for making threatening comments about President Obama. How on earth does that friendship work?
Ted Nugent is a good friend to me. We have similar views on freedom of expression
“Ted Nugent is a good friend to me. We have similar views on freedom of expression,” he says with a shrug. “His libertarian edge and my anarchist edge overlap considerably. Sometimes, if he says something outrageous to fire up their racist base, I’m going to text him to say, ‘Dude. What are you talking about?’ We are able to talk about it as friends, as opposed to the people on the opposite sides of the barricade.”
Prophets of Rage are accustomed to the dispute. In the decade of the 90’s, when Bill Clinton was denouncing the Public Enemy associated with Sister Souljah and George HW Bush, was joining the campaign for the ban of Ice-T’s cop Killer, they were all involved in the media storm. By comparison, the criticism of the Prophets of Rage has been minimal, apart from the right side of the conspiracy theory of the factory of Infowars condemned as “communist rockers”. “That is not inaccurate,” Morello says softly.
“People like Infowars can kiss my balls all day,” B-Real says. “Spreaders of disinformation and other things. The news have become in the social networks. They are not telling the whole story. They’re telling the story you want to tell, and sometimes it’s a complete shit. And when we have a president that is exacerbating this by publishing false information, and then say that the allegations against her were false, it is just a circle of fuckery. There is a need for this music. As Tom always says, the change is not made, you have to fight for it, and we’re here to inspire that.”
He makes a break for the clarification. “But in a peaceful way. Not any type of violence shit that I was going to get the people hospitalized or killed.”
“There is an important lesson to be learned from this rainbow of misinformation,” Morello says. “He was always there, but now is more evident. No story tells the whole truth. Nothing is fair and balanced. Nothing is the complete picture. The fact that music is a language that precedes the word. When you get the right combination of rhythm and rhyme, it feels like the truth of the way that nothing else does.” When the Prophets of Rage to come. “The resistance needs a soundtrack. That is the job that we are hearing.”
A few days later, the owners of the Brixton Academy with the hairs of screen of what the president might describe as “the fire and the fury”. Songs written during the first Bush administration, as the Struggle for Power and death in the Name, they have lost none of their power to inflame the crowd.
In the hotel, Morello told me that he was suspicious of the word “supergroup”, but Chuck had no such reservations. “I love it,” she said, smiling. “When people are skeptical there is only one job to do and that’s be super. With the Prophets of Rage there are not a lot of kumbaya songs. This is the brutality.”
• Prophets of Rage is now on Caroline International.