Tom Morello & Chuck D - Fighting the Power with Prophets of Rage - Extended Interview

Extended - September 13, 2017 - Tom Morello & Chuck D 09/13/2017 Views: 21,146

Tom Morello and Chuck D of Prophets of Rage talk about recording their supergroup's self-titled debut album and explain how they channel their politics into music. (10:30)

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My guests tonightare legendary musicians

and members of the super groupProphets of Rage,

whose self-titled debut albumcomes out on Friday.

Please welcome Chuck Dand Tom Morello.

(applause and cheering)

Welcome. Welcome.Welcome to the show.

Thank you very muchfor having us.

So good to have you.

-Welcome to it.-Well, great to be here.

-I like this.-Yeah.

A super group, uh,two superpowers connecting.

-Three, including Cypress Hill.-(Noah chuckles)

-Oh, that's true.-Yes, B-Real from Cypress Hill.

Yeah. Yeah, that is powerful.Why the name...?

-And our super host.-And a super host?

-Yes.-Oh. Is that me?

-Yes, you.-Oh, wow.

-(applause and cheering)-I'm in the team!

Oh, I've been a fan sinceI heard you came from Joburg.

So, go up...You know, big up Joburg.

-(person whoops)-Oh, my man. I like that.

-One person from Joburg.-(laughter)

-Let's talk about the name...-Sure.

...uh, Prophets of Rage.Why that name? 'Cause, I mean,

there were so many variationsyou guys could have gone with.

Sure. Well, it's the shortestband meeting we ever had.

Uh, uh, Prophets of Rage is

members of RageAgainst the Machine,

-Cypress Hill and Public Enemy.-Right.

There is a Public Enemy songcalled "Prophets of Rage."

-Right.-So when we were saying,

"What should the nameof our band be?"

Chuck D suggestedProphets of Rage.

-He's the prophet, I'm the rage.-Oh, nice. Nice. -(laughter)

Let's talk a little bitabout that rage.

Um, you have been someonewho has been...

You've been politicalfor a very long time.

-I mean, most of your life.-Sure.

You also worked in politicswhich I never knew about you.

-Yes. Yes. -I mean, you workedfor a senator in California

-when you were really young.-That's correct.

And after that, you saidyou never wanted to involve...

be involved in politicsin that way ever again.

-It cured me forever of...of, like... -Cured you? Why?

Yeah, yeah. Uh, I wasthe scheduling secretary

-for United State Senator AlanCranston for two years. -Right.

And it cured me for two reasons.

Uh, one was because it wasentirely about money.

Most of the day was spentputting the senator on the phone

with wealthy Democrats,wealthy Republicans,

wealthy peoplewho he would ask for money,

and none of that money camefor free.

But that's not the main reason.

Main reason is, one day,

I received a telephone callfrom a lady.

She was complainingbecause there were Mexicans

-moving into her neighborhood.-Right.

And she was outragedand wanted the senator

to do somethingabout this outrageous thing...

-Wait. Just to do somethingabout them moving? -To stop...

To do some sort of ethniccleansing of her neighborhood,

I believe, is what what she was looking for.

-Right, right, right. -Some sortof pogrom against the Mexicans.

And, um, I said,"Ma'am, you can go to hell,"

thinking I had donethe senator's business.

And, you know, I hung up,and... great.

So, she ended up calling,complain...

I got yelled at for two weeks.

And I thought to myself, if I...

If electoral politicsare a world

where I can't tell a racistto go to hell,

then that's not the right jobfor me.

-So, rock and roll, on the otherhand... -(applause and cheering)

-On the other hand...-Right.

On the other hand...

So I've looked at itas my solemn, sworn duty

for the next, you know,uh, couple of decades

to tell racists--whether on the telephone,

whether in the streets,or in The White House--

-to go to hell.-(applause and cheering)


You are no stranger

to telling people in powerto go hell, Chuck D.

Uh, it's interesting becausea lot of people in music go,

"You know, stay out of politicsand don't get into it,

because you have fans that buyyour music from either side."

This is not something you havegone for from the beginning.

Honest, straight to the point,this is your point of view.

This feels like an evolution.

Was it inspired in some waysby Donald Trump?

Um, no. Well, you know,Donald Trump was part of this

as, uh, this came together

with-with Tom basically sayingthat this infuriate...

infuriated him so muchthat it was, you know,

-more about it than justtweeting about it -Right.

or going to social media.

We can do something about it.

We can do something about itwhat we... in what we do,

musically, to bring the noiseand make people aware.

And it's one thingabout turning fans off,

but one thing we've beenis fearless with our music.

And I was raised, uh,being born in this city

is to be fearless and saywhat you need, you know, to say

and say what needs to be said,

and, uh, that's been pretty muchmy track line right throughout.

If you're making musicthat everyone can agree on,

you're probably making pretty(bleep) music, in my view.


Touché. I like that.


let me ask you this, though,let me ask you...

This is interesting.When you heard--

or did you hear that Paul Ryansaid he was a huge fan

-of Rage Against the Machine?-Sure. Sure, sure.

Um, did you...did you think to yourselves,

like, does he know who you are,

has he actually heardthe lyrics?

-Maybe he just hears the music.-Yeah, well, well, I mean,

first of all,there's no political litmus test

-to being a fan of a band's.-Right.

And one of the most inspiringstories that I hear every day

is people come up,they got into our bands

because of the aggressionof the music,

and they were exposedto a different point of view.

-That's totally cool.-How interesting.

Paul Ryan's point of view,however, remain...

He does do a lot of raging--against women, against gays,

against unions, against workers,against the environment...

-So that's his machine. Oh, man.-Yeah, that's right. Yeah.

Yeah, but, I mean,he's basically the epitome

of the machine we've been ragingagainst our entire career,

so while he does... he may useRage Against the Machine

for his PX90 workouts...


Let's see... let's get in the...

You're welcome to anyProphets of Rage show in the pit

and let nature take its course.

-Oh, wow.-And you wonder, like, you know,

you know, his team spiritjust exploded

when he made that statement.

-You know? Like...-Yeah. Yeah, first of all,

you're not... you're notallow... I mean, he was trying

to-- I don't know what he wastrying to do when he said that--

but sort of piggyback on someof the coolness or whatever.

And we just weren't aboutto let him get away with it.

Well, what do you want peopleto take from the music?

Because, I mean, both of youhave a history where your music

has inspired people, as you say,

your music has enabled peopleto speak out.

Some people have used itas catharsis.

What are you hoping to achievefrom this, Prophets of Rage?

What are you trying to dobeyond just make amazing music?

Well, this man, our mantra is:The world won't fix itself.

-Right. -We gotto do something about it.

Make things happen.

We didn't wish for the worldto be in this eff'd-up state

for us to be a band--we'd have found 12 topics.

But we're also telling peoplein the United States of America,

yes, think globally,act locally.

If I talk about Johannesburg,and people say, "I don't know,

because I thinkthat's on another planet,"

we don't want that to bepeople's, you know, limitation.

-Right.-We want to be a... a band.

We'll find 12 topics.

But since, uh, 2016,

with the monstrosityof Trump POTUS,

it's the lowest hanging fruitto attack under the belt.

-(laughter)-I love that. "Trump POTUS."


If you are...

you come together,you're in the studio,

I would love to knowwho gets angrier and why.

-Hmm. -Like, what, what is the one moment

where you haveto hold Chuck back,

-and what is the moment...-Okay, first-first of all,

we're also in a bandwith B-Real,

and so there'sso much secondhand smoke

-in the studio... -Oh,so this is like a chilled rage.

Really no one' one can be too angry.

I'm trying to get my rageto a fever,

but I feel like wear a maskin order to get my rage

-to the pitch that's required.-It's like a chilled rage, then.

Yeah. No, I mean, the point isthat we try to weave our--

we don't try, we do--

we weave our convictionsin our vocation.

And that's somethingthat anyone can do

and probably should do.

And I think it's one of ourhuman responsibilities

is not to leave behindwho we are in what we do.

And that's howthe world changes.

Like, history, history isn'tsomething that happens,

history's somethingthat you make.

And if you sit on the sidelines,

somebody else is gonnamake that history.

And I'm not-- I don't trustthose sons of bitches.



Let me ask you,let me ask you...

I'm with the best playersin the world, you know?

This man's redefined the guitar,you know?

You got Timmy C on bass,who, who pretty much is like,

you know, a James Jamesonin the rock world.

You got the god of hard drums,Brad Wilk.

You got one of the bestturntables in the world

with DJ Lord.

You got the unbelievable,incredible B-Real

from Cypress Hill, a 26 year vetwho has the charisma

to be the front emceewhile I back him up.

And, um, if there's any anger,

it's, like, if you feelthat you can't step up.

-And there's times where I'm theweakest link. -MORELLO: Stop.

So if I'm the weakest link,

any other band in the world'sin trouble.


You guys are trouble, man;you're exciting.

-We're excited for the music.-Well, our basis is, like,

we want to change the world,but on stage,

we will change the environment.

Let me ask you aboutchanging the environment.

Like, so you-- like you said,you came from the city.

Your music was aboutfighting and power.

I was born in Queens,the same county

that Trump POTUS was born,12 years apart.

What sickness.

What you're saying is thatthat could have been you.


The, uh, let-let me...

If-if only Chuck D werepresident, seriously.

Like, serious.

-The, uh...-Please.

Musician, that's what we do.That's what I do, you know.

Before we came on stage,I said,

"You know, um, Tom, beat me up

so I can pay attentionand be awake."

Let me ask, let me ask you this,with your music.

You created music in a timewhen you were responding

to something that was happening.

You know, fighting the power.

When you look at what'shappening now,

if you, if you lookat that Chuck D,

and you look at this Chuck D,in this day and age in 2017,

have you noticed a shiftin the environment,

or do you feel like in some ways

you are still fighting againstthe same power,

or is it a power that has insome way shifted or morphed?

I started out 1986as a professional,

during R and B,that's Reagan and Bush.

And, um...


Thatcher was chopping upthe planet, you know.

-Nelson Mandela was in prison,you know. -Right.

There was a wall up, you know.

2017, you're talking about thepresident of the United States

-building a wall, you know.-Right.

So it's "Mr. Mexico,let's build this wall,"

might be the statement.

But, um, the biggest difference

is that older people move onand transition,

and younger people come in,

but the stench of racismhovers over,

and is institutionalized.

And we feel, as musicians, thatwe have the universal language

and passport to tellthe whole world

to be accountableand responsible,

as, you know, you're groovingto the, you know,

-to the grooves and the beats.-Right.

So that's probably the biggest,uh, difference,

is that we can,

we can kind of like synergizewith the world's language

of how ridiculous it isin some places.

The world can connecta lot better than it used to.

What are we gonna dowith this avenue?

And, um, right now,we're Prophets of Rage.

You guys are doing it, man.

-Thank you so much for being onthe show. -Thank you very much.

-Thank you.-Thank you very much.

Prophets of Rage will beavailable September 15th.

Chuck D, Tom Morello, everybody.

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