In 1999, they ordered donuts for 300 police officers who protested them outside a show in Massachusetts.
Bass player Commerford climbed on top of a 15-foot set at the 2000 MTV Video music awards and stayed there while Limp Bizkit accepted an award. He pled guilty to disorderly conduct.
At the Philadelphia stop on Lollapalooza '93, Rage stood naked with duct tape across their mouths and the letters P-M-R-C written across their chests. This lasted for 25 minutes with no sound feedback. They were protesting the censorship of the Parents Music Resource Center. This was inspired by de la Rocha blowing out his voice earlier in the day, rendering him unable to sing.
Rage is known for their politics. De la Rocha has appeared at the United Nations' Commission on Human Rights on behalf of convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. At Woodstock '99, he called for justice for Native American Leonard Peltier.
Also at Woodstock '99, Commerford draped the American flag over his bass amp and lit it on fire. He says he celebrating his right to free speech.
De la Rocha has traveled to Chiapas, Mexico to work with rebel group the Zapatistas. Here he picked up smoking cigarettes as a way to initiate conversation.
On Rage's first album, the only additional musicians are Jane's Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins and Tool/Perfect Circle vocalist Maynard James Keenan.
Morello enrolled at Harvard University as a political science student in 1982. He graduated four years later with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Studies. Loudwire magazine asked Morello what's the most important takeaway from his Ivy League Schooling. He replied:
"Well, I gotta tell you the most important takeaway was when you're in a cover band at Harvard and your practice - I was doing an honors major in Political Science and practicing guitar four hours every day and playing kegger gigs wearing spandex and shirts with zippers on it like I was in Dokken. So it was an interesting experience on a daily basis sort of balancing the two worlds. One of revolutionary politics and two of shredding Ozzy Osbourne guitar solos."
De la Rocha is a Mexican-American; Morello is an African-American. Both their sets of parents are divorced and both faced lots of prejudice as children. Morello calls de la Rocha his "ideological brother."
De la Rocha cites his biggest influence as Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano.
The band's name comes from a song performed by de la Rocha's previous band, Inside Out.
Former Soundgarden lead singer Chris Cornell was never a part of Rage Against The Machine, however when they split up he formed a band with the remnants of RATM (everyone except De La Rocha) called Audioslave. (thanks, iain - edinburgh, Scotland)
De la Rocha's father, Beto, was a member of the Los Angeles collective of painters known as Los Four. He was also the art editor at several Chicano publications in the 1970's.
Morello's father, Ngethe Njoroge, was a Mau Mau guerilla and Kenya's first representative to the United Nations. His mother, who is white, worked with the NAACP and founded Parents for Rock and Rap. Morello's great-uncle, Jomo Kenyatta, was the first elected president of Kenya.
Morello spent two years as a scheduling secretary for California Senator Alan Cranston (Democrat).
The members of Rage rarely socialize together outside of making music.
Commerford has used many pseudonyms, including Timmy C, Tim Bob Commerford, and Y.tim.k. His most clever pseudonym was TIM.COM. (thanks, Stefano, Old Bridge, NJ)
Wilk is the son of a jewelry salesman from Oregon. He used to play in a band called Bad Radio with Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder. (thanks, Helene - Gatineau, Canada)
They won 2 Grammys: "Tire Me" for Best Metal Performance in 1997, and "Guerrilla Radio" for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2001. (thanks, Emmanuel - Tijuana, Mexico)
Zach De La Rocha's father had a midlife crisis during which he became a born again Christian. When Zach would visit his divorced father on weekends, he and Zach would lock themselves in a completely dark room for the entire weekend to pray and repent for their sins. Zach would sometimes not eat until he left for his mother's house again on Monday. This is a big part of his anti-Chritianity lyrics. (thanks, Noah - Boston, MA)
Wilk is a Buddhist. He is generally seen as the most laid-back member of the band.
Commerford is descended from a Norman warlord called Fulco de Commerforte, who settled in Ireland in 1169. (thanks, Tom - Trowbridge, England)
Rage got together in 1991, wrote the majority of the songs on this album in a manner of 2 months, made a 12-song demo tape, played a few shows in the L.A. area, and were signed onto Epic among hundreds of record labels requesting contract. This album didn't receive much play time on either MTV, or the radio, but it's sales still climbed, and made Rage Against the Machine a popular album. This album most effectively demonstrates Rage's "rap meets metal" combination - proving that they were the only band to get the formula right, and make it work. This is the album most responsible for the entire "rock-hop" revolution that took over the mainstream music industry. Rage made their presence known with this album, as a political threat, and as a musical one.
"Rage Against The Machine" is the title of an Inside Out song. Inside Out is a hard-core band on Revelation Records that Zack was in before they broke up and he formed RATM with Tom Morello. "Rage Against the Machine" was the working title for Inside Out's second album, but since they broke up, it seemed the most suitable name to sum up the band's sound, politics, and mission." The common question is, then, "what machine are they raging against?" According to Tom Morello, "The machine can be anything from the police in LA that can tear motorists from their cars and beat them to a pulp and get away with it, to the state capitalist machine that tried to make you just a mindless cog and sort of 'behave' and never confront the system and just look forward to the weekend and the next six pack of beer." The machine has come to mean any form of illegitimate authority that dehumanizes and degrades.
Evil Empire was released in 1996, a new genre of music based on Rage's style suddenly became mainstream. Rage Against the Machine avoided the hype of this fuming music scene, and released an album 3 years later that surpassed all the music released in the interval between Rage albums: The Battle Of Los Angeles. In the words of Tom Morello, the album is "heavier, super-hard rocking, rhythmic with deep hip-hop grooves, and some really unique sonic slap-back funk" - a sound that not only takes the popular form that Rage originally created to the next step, but takes it an entire country mile further. (thanks, Tim - Pittsburgh, PA, for above 3)
On Rage Against The Machine's first album, the cover is a Pulitzer prize winning photo of a burning monk. The Vietnamese Buddist monk is Thich Quang Duc, who burned himself to death. This act of self-immolation was protesting against the Prime Minister Ngo Dih Diem who was oppressing the Buddhist religion. (thanks, Gilbert - Amarillo, TX)
In high school, Tom Morello made up a name and started campaigning for the fictitious person for class president. His "candidate" came in third place in the election. (thanks, David - Saugerties, NY)
On September 13, 2000, Rage played for the last time in 7 years at a show in Los Angeles. They got back together in 2007 to perform at the Coachella festival.
On August 27, 2008, they played to about 9,000 people at the Denver Coliseum during the Democratic National Convention, which was being held nearby. The group was protesting the Iraq War, and joined an antiwar march lead by Iraq Veterans Against the War.
When he left the band in 1999, Zack De La Rocha released a statement saying: "I feel that it is now necessary to leave Rage because our decision-making process has completely failed. It is no longer meeting the aspirations of all four of us collectively as a band, and from my perspective, has undermined our artistic and political ideal." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2)
Like many other alternative bands, in their 2008 tour rider Rage required promoters to provide socks and cotton underwear before each performance.
Morello named his son Rhodes, after the guitarist Randy Rhodes, who was his favorite musician growing up.