TOM MORELLO

The rock gui­tarist and ac­tivist shares his golden rules for liv­ing.

Q (UK) - - Contents -

For­give­ness rocks! And other philo­soph­i­cal nuggets from the ex-RATM gui­tarist.

1 DON’T WORRY ABOUT YOUR GUI­TAR TONE

This is anath­ema to gui­tar play­ers who slav­ishly work away at par­tic­u­lar tones. I tried for years to find this mag­i­cal tone that was in my head and I fi­nally just gave up and played with the crappy tone I had and said, “I’m never gonna worry about it an­other day in my life, I’m just gonna make mu­sic that sounds good with the tone I’ve got” and that ended up be­ing Rage Against The Ma­chine.

2 CON­FRONT IN­JUS­TICE AT EV­ERY TURN

This was some­thing that was em­bed­ded in me by my mom when I was four years old. Some older kid at day­care was do­ing some ra­cial name­call­ing at me ev­ery day and I was cry­ing and my mom said, “you’re the one who has to con­front it.” She gave me some choice words to say back, rolled my lit­tle brown hand into a fist and said, “go back there and give ’em hell.” The kid was N-word­ing me and I called him what­ever my mom had said, a big fight broke out and even­tu­ally when the su­per­vi­sor came over and sussed it all out, the kid was taken over to the sink and had his mouth washed out with soap. Whether you see some­one bul­ly­ing on the play­grounds or a boss be­ing abu­sive at work or a gov­ern­ment be­ing abu­sive to the peo­ple in it or un­der it, it’s im­por­tant to con­front it.

3 PRAC­TICE MAKES PER­FECT

This was ad­vice given to me by a more ad­vanced gui­tar player in high school and I took it as bib­li­cal script. I prac­tised ev­ery day and I re­alised the tide of my abil­ity was ris­ing be­cause of that. Even­tu­ally it was eight hours a day, ev­ery day, with­out fail. It was a com­mit­ment to a goal that you can ex­trap­o­late. You can do that in any en­deav­our and achieve real re­sults.

4 ALL THE WORLD IS A LIT­TLE WEIRD

My grand­mother told me this. There was some kid do­ing some­thing pe­cu­liar and she pointed out that I had some pe­cu­liar fac­ul­ties my­self! I thought, “You’re right”. Cel­e­brat­ing the dif­fer­ences and the weird­ness in oth­ers and our­selves is bet­ter than cast­ing as­per­sions and con­demn­ing peo­ple for stand­ing out.

5 FOR­GIVE OTH­ERS, AND YOUR­SELF

In for­giv­ing oth­ers, you can be­come free and clean to move for­ward and, in for­giv­ing your­self, you’re able to open new doors to new ex­pe­ri­ences. Wayne Kramer of the mighty MC5 gave me great ad­vice. He’d taken me to some char­ity event and I just be­haved aw­fully to the host. Af­ter­wards I was beat­ing my­self up and he said, “It’s OK to make mis­takes, every­body makes ’em and you’re a good per­son.” I felt ab­solved in some way. For­giv­ing my­self was key to mov­ing for­ward.

6 BE­LIEVE IN WHAT YOU DO

I didn’t move to Hol­ly­wood to be­come a po­lit­i­cal fire­brand, I moved to Hol­ly­wood to be­come a rock star. I was a neo­phyte from Small­town, Illi­nois. I got in a band and the record com­pany said to do this and the pro­ducer said to do that and a lot of it didn’t feel right, but I thought, “They’re the ex­perts, they must know best”. Af­ter that band was dropped from the la­bel, I made a solemn vow to my­self to never play mu­sic I didn’t be­lieve in. I’ve stuck to that from that day to this.

7 QUES­TION EV­ERY­THING

I re­alised at a very young age that when it came to cer­tain eth­i­cal mat­ters, my com­pass was very dif­fer­ent from the text­book I was read­ing or the way the teacher was de­scrib­ing the Cold War, stuff like that. I be­gan ques­tion­ing out loud in class and writ­ing let­ters to the ed­i­tor of news­pa­pers. When I found that I could win an ar­gu­ment with a teacher, it made me go, “Hold on, maybe the guy on the news is no smarter than this guy, or has a per­spec­tive that is equally in­valid.” That re­ally be­gan a life­time of ques­tion­ing ev­ery­thing.

8 PEO­PLE’S LIVES MAT­TER ALL OVER THE WORLD

We just had the yearly 9/11 mourn­ing here in the States, very rightly memo­ri­al­is­ing the civil­ians who’d been killed, and it’s a re­minder of how good Amer­i­cans can be and how em­pa­thetic they can feel. Too of­ten, that em­pa­thy ends at the bor­der and when it comes to Amer­i­can drones killing peo­ple over­seas, we turn a blind eye, we don’t count the dead, we don’t know their names. That is at the core of a lot of evil in the world: view­ing peo­ple, who don’t look like you or come from where you are, as less de­serv­ing of em­pa­thy.

9 YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU OWN

In this ra­bid con­sumer cul­ture, the in­trin­sic worth of a per­son is not tied up in their ma­te­rial pos­ses­sions at all. I know some very wealthy peo­ple who have he­li­copters and who have sad­ness and sick­ness in their souls, and I’ve known peo­ple who are hope­less drug ad­dicts or pros­ti­tutes who had hearts of gold and were deeply worth­while hu­mans.

10 YOU ARE AN AGENT OF HIS­TORY

The world changes when some­body changes it and in­jus­tice stops when some­body stops it. The peo­ple who’ve changed the world in the past have no more power or courage or in­tel­li­gence than the peo­ple read­ing this now. You can choose to stay on the side­lines with your head in a hole like an os­trich, or you can join the countless oth­ers who have stood up in their place and time to create a more just and hu­mane planet.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.