Rage Against The MachineRobin Harper

Tom Morello Speaks On The Uncertain Future Of Rage Against The Machine


Political rap metal pioneers Rage Against The Machine didn’t exactly have the best go of it with their long-awaited reunion run last year. After a decade of absence, and a few extra years of pandemic-related delays, the multi-platinum outfit were just two days into the trek when frontman Zack de la Rocha suffered a severe leg injury onstage.

While Zack would go on to gut out the rest of the initial North American leg of that trek while seated, the further legs of the trek were ultimately cancelled in October of last year. At the time, de la Rocha revealed that he would require months of surgery to recover from his severely torn left Achilles tendon.

Since then, there has been no word on whether or not the outfit intend to eventually return to the road or what, if any future plans the group have. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, the band’s outspoken guitarist Tom Morello has offered some clarity about that first leg of the tour, while also doing his best to address any misconceptions around the band’s comeback tour and the cancellations in the wake of Zack‘s injury.

When asked why they cancelled their overseas leg of touring, Morello stated:

“Doctor’s orders. I don’t know all the details, but there’s dangers of flying. There’s danger of blood clots and all that. I wasn’t in the room. But it’s not the optimum care to be on the road with a newly-ruptured Achilles.

Can I check a couple of boxes surrounding the US tour and some misunderstandings around them? I just want to go through a couple.”

He continued:

“One, there’s a lot of ridiculous people who disapprove of Rage’s political outlook, who were not at the shows, who…just to be clear, no fans at any show in the history of Rage Against The Machine have ever had a vaccination requirement to be in the room. Ever. People say that and it’s just foolish.

Second, in regards to ticket prices…I think by this point, I think everybody is familiar with the awful idea of dynamic ticket pricing. There was that big uproar with Springsteen and this one and that one. Just to reiterate, every ticket for the show was $125 with the exception of about five to ten percent of tickets, which we did the dynamic ticket prices with, and gave away every cent.

Every penny over $125 went to charities in those cities. In New York City, we raised over a million dollars for activist organization charities. There was a total of about six or seven million raised on that tour in what was basically a Robin Hood tactic. I wanted to say those things out loud since there was a lot of misinformation in the world about those two things.”

Morello was then asked if the group will be back on the road after Zack is healed up, to which he responded:

“We’ll see. If there is to be any more shows, we will announce it as a band. I don’t know. I know as much as you do, honestly. Right now we’re in time of healing. I’m in a time of making music and doing a bunch of stuff.

To bring it back to the Hall of Fame conversation [the band are currently on their fifth nomination for the ‘Rock & Roll Hall of Fame] , if there never is another show, I think that this tour made the case. It’s not about how much you tour. It’s about what it’s like during those moments when you do. Rage Against The Machine has played 19 shows in the past 12 years. And the resonance of those 19 shows feel, in talking to fans, like those were historical events that furthers the idea of what that band is like live onstage.”

When asked if the group are on an indefinite hiatus, Morello responded:

“There is no term. Rage Against The Machine is like the ring in Lord of the Rings. It drives men mad. It drives journalists mad. It drives record industry people mad. They want it. They want the thing, and they’re driven mad. If there are Rage shows, if there are not Rage shows, you’ll hear from the band. I do not know. When there is news, it will come from a collective statement from the band. There is no news.”

When pressed further on if Zack has indicated he wants to continue, Morello offered:

“The conversations I’ve had with band members since the tour have been about life. It’s hard for me to explain. I understand that in this interview, it’s at the top of your list, your Lord of the Rings check list. It’s hard to explain, but when you’re in it, it’s never been like that. It’s a band that made three albums of new material, that tours very intermittently. It’s a unicorn in a way. Much of the time, there’s not a position the band is in. You know what I’m saying?”

As for the 38 shows the band cancelled and if they intend to eventually make good on their initial plans, he responded:

“There are fans everywhere that are jonesing. [Laughs] There are fans all over the world. Do Rage Against The Machine fans around the world deserve to see the band? Yes. Of course they do. Would the times benefit from a culturally, spiritually, rocking-ly, potent band like Rage being onstage? Of course. I don’t have news for you on that. I apologize. There’s nothing internal in our discussions that says either yes or no.”

After repeated attempts for a more definitive answer, Morello added:

“…I think I said it very clearly. If Rage Against The Machine was going on a hiatus, Rage Against The Machine would say, ‘We’re going on a hiatus.’ That has not happened. I will say that I understand and respect the frustration. There is a sort of frustration to not knowing when you’re in the band! But that’s led to a lot of great music.”

For more from Morello on the state of Rage, his upcoming solo shows, playing guitar with his son and more, head to Rolling Stone.

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