Prophets Of Rage

Com­bin­ing the tal­ents of RATM, Cy­press Hill and Pub­lic En­emy, rock-rap su­pergroup Prophets Of Rage tell us why it’ll take a na­tion of mil­lions to hold them back.

Classic Rock - - Contents - Words: Luke Mor­ton Pho­tos: John McMur­trie

Mil­i­tant rock-rap su­pergroup Prophets Of Rage tell us why it takes a na­tion of mil­lions to hold them back.

rophets Of Rage was brought to life be­cause of the emer­gency of the po­lit­i­cal times. Prophets con­tinue to be a band be­cause we love play­ing to­gether. It’s that sim­ple.”

These are the words of for­mer Rage Against The Ma­chine and Au­dioslave gui­tarist Tom Morello, sit­ting at a ta­ble back­stage at the cav­ernous Rock­hal venue in south­ern Lux­em­bourg, ahead of a headline per­for­mance tonight. The band are in the mid­dle of a mam­moth Euro­pean fes­ti­val run, but they’re also fit­ting in their own gigs where pos­si­ble, in­clud­ing Lon­don’s Brix­ton Academy the week be­fore. Not bad for a band that didn’t ex­ist just over a year ago.

Morello formed Prophets Of Rage in May

2016 af­ter read­ing a news ar­ti­cle that stated Don­ald Trump ‘rages against the ma­chine,’ which, as you’d ex­pect, did not sit well with the rev­o­lu­tion‑ready riff lord. “Oh hell no, that’s not what we had in mind,” he says.

Orig­i­nally tweet­ing about the ar­ti­cle with a “snarky com­ment”, he knew there was more he could do than sit and bask in the retweet

glow. “We’ve got this in­sane arse­nal of ma­te­rial that’s bet­ter suited to 2017 than it is to 1993, so how do we make that feel like some­thing to­tally con­tem­po­rary, is en­gaged in both the pol­i­tics of the day and the rock’n’roll of the day?”

The an­swer was just a phone call away. Send­ing out the bat sig­nal, long‑time mu­si­cal part­ners Tim Com­mer­ford and Brad Wilk in­stantly came aboard to join the cause. Soon af­ter they were joined by Cy­press Hill’s B‑Real, and Pub­lic En­emy’s own DJ Lord and Chuck D. Hav­ing the god­fa­ther of hip‑ hop fronting one of the best rhythm sec­tions in rock mu­sic is surely go­ing to get your mes­sage out.

Sit­ting in his dress­ing room, por­ing over note­books, Chuck D is a much more se­date and softly‑spo­ken fig­ure than the beast we’ll be see­ing on stage in a few hours. Right now he’s mak­ing sure he rests his knees, an­kles and Achilles. While he ad­mits to orig­i­nally hav­ing ap­pre­hen­sions about join­ing Prophets Of Rage due to his day job and real‑life com­mit­ments, soon it be­came clear that there was no bet­ter place than here and no bet­ter time than now. “I’ve been mak­ing songs for thirty years, but I was re­ally ex­cited about tak­ing on the chal­lenge of do­ing Rage songs,” he ad­mits in his cool‑

“We’re mem­bers of the re­sis­tance – sonic and cul­tural and po­lit­i­cal.”

Tom Morello

as‑ice drawl­ing bari­tone. But this isn’t just about play­ing Rage, Pub­lic En­emy or Cy­press Hill cov­ers like we see tonight – there’s a long‑term plan, and a full‑length record is re­leased this month.

“I’ve made fif­teen or so records and this is the most col­lab­o­ra­tive record I’ve ever been a part of,” Morello says with an air of pride. “Ev­ery­one has the open­ness to share ideas, and the hu­mil­ity to be open to ev­ery­one else’s ideas.”

Through­out Morello’s mu­si­cal ca­reer, one thing has re­mained a con­stant – the partnership with Wilk and Com­mer­ford. From Rage Against The Ma­chine to Au­dioslave, the trio have writ­ten some of the big­gest rock an­thems of all time – some­thing that isn’t lost on their new mouth­piece.

“Tim, Brad and Tom cre­ate a magic that peo­ple can’t ex­plain,” says Chuck. “You can’t ex­plain why John Paul Jones, John Bon­ham and Jimmy Page sound the way they did, and it’s the same with

Tom, Brad and Tim. They sound the way they do to­gether and there’s no ex­pla­na­tion as to why.”

So how does this new in­car­na­tion of rock’n’roll’s triple threat com­pare to Au­dioslave?

“It’s be­ing in a band with some of our big­gest in­flu­ences,” Morello says with a grin. “When

Rage Against The Ma­chine was form­ing, the two cas­settes we lis­tened to the most were the first Cy­press Hill record and Soundgar­den’s Bad­mo­torfin­ger, and later on, mirac­u­lously, I work with both. What this has in com­mon is play­ing with your he­roes, then cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment where you’re able to be peers, and cre­ate some­thing to­gether that you aim to stand shoul­der to shoul­der with your best work.”

Time will tell if Prophets Of Rage’s de­but al­bum de­serves to sit along­side Evil Em­pire or Out Of Ex­ile, but the play‑off of B‑Real and Chuck D in­ter­twined with RATM’s rhythm sec­tion is joy­ous to be­hold. And with the band tack­ling such top­ics as the Los An­ge­les home­less cri­sis in Liv­ing On

The 110, drone war­fare in Take Me Higher and the free­dom of hu­man be­ings in Le­gal­ize Me, it’s not just slo­ga­neer­ing mas­querad­ing as protest.

But is this all just a cyn­i­cal ploy to cash in on the back­lash against Pres­i­dent Trump? Sure, the band formed be­fore the elec­tion, but would we be see­ing Prophets Of Rage bull­doze through Down­load, Hellfest and be­yond if Hil­lary Clin­ton had won?

“Trump is uniquely hor­ren­dous and clown­ish,” Morello says, “but un­til ev­ery­body’s got enough to eat and ev­ery­body’s got a place to live, and there’s no more war, there’s go­ing to be a rea­son to play these songs. When we solve all of those things, we’ll play love

“We’re not sit­ting on the side­lines of his­tory. If we’re go­ing down, then we’re go­ing down swingin’.”

Tom Morello

songs,” he says with a glim­mer of hu­mour in his voice, yet backed with a sense of fury.

“You don’t wish for catas­tro­phes so you can be the ‘rel­e­vant, speaking to the ar­maged­don’ band – you wish for a bet­ter world,” he as­serts. “We’d have found twelve top­ics to write a record about. We didn’t ask for the train wreck in or­der to give us cov­er­age. The train wreck hap­pened, but we were on our way to fix­ing the world be­cause the world won’t fix it­self.”

And that’s the point Prophets Of Rage are mak­ing, both on stage and off, and like their new‑ age an­them states, it’s time to un­fuck the world. Are Prophets Of Rage the band to do that?

“We’re cer­tainly mem­bers of the re­sis­tance – sonic and cul­tural and po­lit­i­cal,” says Morello. “The record we made and these shows are a mis­sion state­ment. We’re not sit­ting on the side­lines of his­tory. If we’re go­ing down then we’re go­ing down swingin’.”

Prophets Of Rage: (l-r) Brad Wilk, Tom Morello, B-Real, Chuck D, Tim Com­mer­ford, DJ Lord.

The Prophets: fight­ing the power, at fes­ti­vals across the world.

Tom Morello: not a fan

of the “uniquely hor­ren­dous” pres­i­dent. Prophets Of Rage’s self-ti­tled al­bum is re­leased on Septem­ber 15 via Car­o­line Records.

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