Rage Against the Machine (sometimes shortened to RATM or Rage) is an American rap metal band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 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 funk as 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. 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.
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 July 2008, Zack de la Rocha released an EP by his long awaited project with ex-The Mars Volta drummer Jon Theodore, One Day as a Lion.
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 six 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 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 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)", 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.
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.
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. 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 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.
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 has continued to tour 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, 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 headlines (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:
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.
In August 2008, de la Rocha revealed his take on the possibility of new material:
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 activism to 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." Morello said of wage slavery in America:
Meanwhile, detractors pointed out the tension between voicing commitment to leftist causes while being millionaires signed to Epic Records, a subsidiary of media conglomerate Sony Records. Infectious Grooves released 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:
When you live in a capitalistic society, the currency of the dissemination of information goes through capitalistic channels. Would Noam Chomsky object to his works being sold at Barnes & Noble? No, because that's where people buy their books. We're not interested in preaching to just the converted. It's great to play abandoned squats run by anarchists, but it's also great to be able to reach people with a revolutionary message, people from Granada Hills to Stuttgart.
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. 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 Festivals organizer 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.
On August 27, 2008, Rage Against the Machine played a free concert in Denver at the Denver Coliseum during the 2008 Democratic National Convention in protest of the war in Iraq. After the concert, the band joined members of The Coup and Flobots in an anti-war protest march from the Denver Coliseum to the Pepsi Center led by Iraq Veterans Against the War; where they successfully delivered their anti-war message and demands to the Barack Obama campaign.
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 Chiapas to 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 Marcos and it's a group which is tremendously supportive of the most objectively poor and continues to fight for dignity, for all people in Mexico. 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 and de la Rocha's experiences with them inspired the songs "Wind Below", and "Without a Face" from Evil Empire. and "War Within a Breath" from The Battle Of Los Angeles.
The EZLN flag has been used as a stage backdrop at all of the bands shows since their reunion in April, 2007.
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."
The two-hour show was syndicated by over 50 commercial U.S. radio stations and streamed live from the band's website. Transcripts of the interviews are freely available online.
Footage of enthusiastic Wall Street employees headbanging to 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.
RATM played a free concert at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in protest of the two-party system. The band had been considering playing a protest concert there since April of that year. 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 court judge 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. 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!" 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, and possibly engaging in more violent activity, such as throwing glass, concrete and water bottles filled with "noxious agents," spraying ammonia on police and slingshotting rocks and steel balls. 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. 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 spray and 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 Union spokesperson 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.
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. After unsuccessfully arguing with officials about playing, they walked into the crowd and sang "Bulls on Parade" and "Killing in the Name" a cappella with megaphones. Afterward, they led the march towards the Convention, but left just before the end.
On September 3, 2008, the band played a concert in Minneapolis at 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.
At a 1993 Lollapalooza appearance in Philadelphia, the band stood onstage naked for 15 minutes with duct tape on their mouths and the letters PMRC painted on their chests in protest against censorship by the Parents Music Resource Center. Refusing to play, they stood in silence with the sound emitted being only audio feedback from Morello and Commerford's guitars. The band later played a free show for disappointed fans. Tom Morello was arrested for civil disobedience in October 1997 during a union protest by garment workers and their supporters against the use of sweatshop labor by Guess?. Billboards subsequently appeared in Las Vegas and New York featuring 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 Path and 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. 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 Concert on 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 Festival on August 22, 2008, and the Pinkpop Festival on 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 Rocha also repeated his 'trial George Bush for war crimes' speech during the song "Wake Up", but also cited Tony Blair as 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."
Mustangs, DLS armed for final By Billy Ortiz STAFF WRITER DANVILLE -- De La Salle High's baseball team has scored 26 runs in its past two games, and Monte Vista unloaded on Bishop O'Dowd for 10 runs in the semifinals. Don't expect the s
Jun 04, 2005; DANVILLE -- De La Salle High's baseball team has scored 26 runs in its past two games, and Monte Vista unloaded on Bishop O'Dowd...