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Rage hard

Craig McLean discusses the state of the world with Tom Morello of the highly vocal LA rap and metal band Rage Against The Machine.

Tom Morello is on a roll. ‘Let me tell you!’ he raves measuredly over the phone from his record company‘s Los Angeles office. ‘We have things like our corrupt government and our insufferable economic system. we have so many horrors going on over here. But get rid ofthat fuckin‘ monarchy! What the hell is all that? That feudal. throwback, tourist attraction business,just get rid of it!’

And once again those pesky interfering Yanks are telling us plucky Brits sorry. those guileless English, what to do, exploiting that ‘special relationship‘ that Maggie and Ronnie consummated so enthusiastically in the 80s and Johnny and Billy are rather more coolly pursuing now. At least now the politics ofthe alternative meaning Rage Against The Machine and their guitarist. not the Democratic incumbent is finally talking sense.

In the new world disorder. liberalism takes liberties and the peace dividend‘s cheque has bounced. The cold war is over, welcome to the hot peace. And come on down Rage Against The Machine. battle- scarred champions of the disaffected and the disenchanted. Oh. and ofthe rock-kid visionaries who are equally gripped by hardcore and hip-hop. adrenalin-junkies who crave a fix of Rage Against The Machine’s visceral uppers. .

Just three months ago. this LA foursome were booked into King Tut’s before three of them were laid low by crippling stomach flu and the band flew home three days early. Now, The Barrowland is the scene for debate and polemics and a rock music that. patently. takes no prisoners. Rage Against The Agenda. refreshingly enough. have an agenda. a cause. and an angry energy to match.

Tom. I see that just the other day there, Bill Clinton finally put the kibosh on the Star Wars defence programme. After ten years and $32 billion the project never even came close to being a reality. Makes you think, doesn‘t it?

‘That‘s just another testament to the huge joke. We could have eradicated homelessness for about a tenth ofthat, I would imagine. lt‘sjust another crime . . .‘ And barely pausing for breath Tom Morello. full- time thinker and sometime wringer of devil-bowel hellsounds from his electric guitar, weighs in with the kind of committed reason that makes his band so vital. ‘One of our main tenets is combating the anaesthetisation of the individual by the mass media. One ofthe things that it‘s very important to remember is that firstly there‘s this twenty per cent of the population that‘s reasonably well-educated and maybe read the papers and have some impact on how

the society is run. whether through managerial positions or the educational hierarchy. lt’s these {peOple that really have to be soaked in the lindoctrination fluid. these people really have to

become the believers because they have their hands close to the machinery.

‘Then for the other 80 per cent. the average guy in the street. one of the media‘s primary responsibilities isjust to keep their minds off it. keep them interested in sports and game shows and the lottery and tales of gory murder. And l guess over there in Britain you have the Royal Family . . .‘

The usual liberal belly-aching. offering up plenty of inchoate problems and no finite solutions? Maybe. And? So? Better to have a band who at least take time to stop. look and say. ‘What‘s going on here?’ Better to have a band whose sloganeering is backed by actual lyrical content and action-inspiring. awe- inspiring. hard-hitting music. ‘No samples. keyboards or synthesisers used in the making ofthis recording.’ flags their eponymous album. Instead the sound is brutally bolted together. concealing no musical sleight-of—hand or good bits nicked from other. better records.

And just as blunt as the music are the titles: ‘Take The Power Back‘, ‘Fistful Of Steel‘. ‘Settle For Nothing'. ‘Bullet In The Head'. ‘Know Your Enemy', ‘Wake Up’. This is the manifesto ofa new politics. bridging the atomising tendencies of modern society and encouraging the participation of a generation for whom conventional politicsjust isn‘t




Steady on. getting a bit carried way there with this ‘rock revolution' spiel aren’t we? I think not. Tom thinks not. He has experienced the emancipatory fervour to be found in the massed yelling of Rage Against The Machine’s battle-cry. the pay-off line from ‘Killing In The Name‘.

‘lt's very emprm'ering to be standing in a room, whether it's with 1000 people or 4000 people in unison. and shouting at the top of your lungs and really meaning it. “Fuck you I won‘t do what you tell me!"

‘When there are angry and articulate and intelligent people in other bands. be it Consolidated or the Disposable Heroes, I very much would like to hear what they have to say because I‘m constantly bombarded with the official party line every night on television. And for the most part it‘s all bullshit. So I’d like to hear some alternative viewpoints on domestic and world politics. And if it comes from the comer grocer or the guitar player in a band. that‘s fine with me.‘

The cold war is over. Welcome to the hot peace. The broken-down machine rages on.

Rage Against The Machine play The Barrowland.

, Glasgow on Mon 24.

24 The List 2| May—3 June 1993