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Killing by name still represents how I think of the world

Killing by name still represents how I think of the world

There is no doubt that one of the most influential rock bands of the 1990s was Rage Against the Machine (RATM). Years before the zeitgeist, they combined hip-hop, rock and metal into one music, while crafting harsh criticisms of current authority, the political elite or even the authorities. Without RATM, the fate of nu metal might have turned out differently, fewer people would have tried to rap over thrash rock, and 2000s hip-hop or electronic music certainly would have turned out differently.

One of the band's most famous faces is Tom Morello, who with his unique guitar playing brought previously unheard elements to the band's sound, and has been cited by the trade press as one of the best faces of all time for some time. now. Morello will perform solo in Budapest Park on July 1. Before his first show in Hungary, we spoke with him for 10 minutes on Zoom.

Founded in 1991, RATM has released a total of four albums and has numerous generational hits. They achieved all this by openly (and sometimes radically) representing a leftist ideology from the beginning, never excluding the political elite, American foreign policy, the capitalist economic system, or American globalization. On the other hand, they were never able to stay together for a long time, for example, their last album, which was released in 2000, was released months after they broke up, and then they got back together for only 4-5 years. The last time they broke up was in January, which was truly the last time for the band.

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Unfortunately, we did not receive an answer to this question from Morello, who obviously gets asked every time about RATM, but he said that he will be proud of the band for the rest of his life, because what he invented and imagined in time has been fully realized artistically and politically.

“Nothing can prove the timelessness of our music better than the fact that the lyrics of most of our songs are still relevant today and represent the same message and value as they did even 30 years ago.”

Murillo told me over Zoom, even turning on his camera, so I could see that the bookshelf behind him contained a statue of Lenin or Fidel Castro as well as a Che Guevara book or a waving Chinese cat.

On the other hand, I was surprised that Murillo, who is well experienced in geo- and foreign policy, had not yet heard that for 15 years Hungary had an extreme right-wing nationalist government, which practically completely contradicts everything he said. He represents in his music. In the end, we couldn't even talk about Hungarian politics.

Among other things, we talked about the fact that few guitarists have as diverse a career as he does. In addition to RATM, he was also part of giant groups such as Audioslave, Street Sweeper Social Club or Prophets of Rage, had his own folk music project (The Nightwatchman), was the guitarist for Bruce Springsteen for a while, and as a contributor there were many artists And species, so that it is almost impossible to follow them.

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However, one of his most unusual phenomena is his Atlas Underground solo trio, where he recorded each song with different collaborators, including artists such as Bring Me the Horizon, Idles, Damian Marley or Steve Aoki. The strangest thing is how interesting Morello's involvement is in today's modern EDM, which practically means post-2010 “American” electronic music, with styles like prostep (the hardcore kind of dubstep), riddim (a different prostep), and big room house (i.e. Music you usually hear on the main stage of Balaton Sound) or future bass.

It's been almost 10 years since Limp Bizkit concert in Budapest You have put an equal sign Between prostep and nu metal, I was nonetheless fascinated when I asked Morello how he found Bloody Beetroots, Knife Party or Bassnectar. “Do you think?” – he asks again with a smile, and then I explain to him my statement in the above-mentioned article that I believe that prostep and partly nuclear metal are based on the same scheme that RATM developed to perfection at that time. that it To decline.

Tom Morello at Metallica's The Helping Hands concert at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on December 16, 2022 – Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

“These guys all grew up listening to Rage Against the Machine. It would be a shame to deny that we had a huge influence on electronic dance music,” he says. “The energy, sound and song structures can all be found in our older music as well,” he says, when asked why the influence This is a very anti-political genre, he answered frankly – in Atlas Underground, I was specifically looking for a progressive and futuristic guitar sound, where Knife Party or Bloody Beetroots are very good, for example and anyway, at that time “I was listening to a lot of Prodigy or Crystal Method tracks, and I feel the same energy in EDM.”

Morello's influence as a guitarist can be seen not only in the aforementioned electronic dance music. Rolling Stone named him the 18th greatest guitarist of all timeAnd in 2023 he was named among the Rock and Roll Immortals with RATM. However, he was first introduced to a certain age group when he appeared as a playable character in the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.

“I had no idea what it was about, I'm not even interested in video games. They offered me this opportunity, where there was a small project I needed, and I implemented it. Then it became one of the most successful video games of all time,” he laughs. And that's right, in 2007's Guitar Hero III. It broke all records: it was the best-selling game of the year, the highest-grossing game of the year, and the first physical video game to cross the $1 billion mark in sales. In addition to Slash, Morello was the other character you had to play a guitar duel against (with a guitar theme written specifically for the game), and then you had to play RATM's Bulls on Parade.

The band got back together that same year, so Guitar Hero III had a huge influence on RATM's perception. big success. “A whole new generation of young people got to know our music, and our concerts were full of young people. I often felt like an action figure, because this age group had a completely different attitude towards me and us.

Because our music was known in a completely different context, a whole new audience formed around us during this period. Naturally, this was also a good opportunity to convey our message to the new generation.”

Before we changed the subject, Morello insisted on telling a story about Guitar Hero. “There was a time when my children organized a special program with their friends to play the game at our house.

“Imagine a bunch of kids coming in and playing my character and playing my music and they're going to destroy me every time.”

– He laughs, then he also says that he personally couldn't play the game at all, and couldn't handle the hardest difficulty level ever, but he also added that it's basically just a game and has nothing to do with reality. playing guitar.

At the end of the conversation, we're still curious what kind of music he'll be able to hear at the Budapest Park concert on July 1. He listed everything from Audioslave to Atlas Underground to Bruce Springsteen, then concluded with a great sense of drama that “of course there will also be Rage Against the Machine.” We had time for one last question, so I was wondering if there is any one of the dozens of albums and hundreds of music releases that you consider your favorite. Morello answered this uncomplicated question with surprising enthusiasm:

“You know what? Since I'm performing in Hungary for the first time, I'll be singing a real classic.

Killing in the Name is the song that I think best represents what I think about the world. How to defend oppressed people, teachers, doctors, minorities, and against oppressive or illegitimate power.

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