Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine Artistfacts

  • 1991-2011
    Zack de La RochaVocals1991-2000
    Tom MorelloGuitar
    Tim CommerfordBass
    Brad WilkDrums
  • Rage Against The Machine are known for their politics, which are imbued in their music. 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.
  • 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.
  • Their incendiary songs and pointed critiques of crooked cops made them many enemies in law enforcement. In 1999, they ordered donuts for 300 police officers who protested them outside a show in Massachusetts.
  • 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.
  • Here's the story of their band name: "Rage Against The Machine" is the title of a song by De La Rocha's pre-rage hardcore band, Inside Out. When they broke up, he formed RATM with Tom Morello. "Rage Against the Machine" was the working title for Inside Out's second album, but since they split, 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.
  • 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Helene - Gatineau, Canada
  • They won two Grammys: "Tire Me" for Best Metal Performance in 1997, and "Guerrilla Radio" for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2001. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Tom - Trowbridge, England
  • Rage got together in 1991, wrote the majority of the songs on this album in a manner of two months, made a 12-song demo tape, played a few shows in the Los Angeles 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.
  • 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    David - Saugerties, NY
  • On September 13, 2000, Rage played for the last time in seven 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." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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.

Comments: 38

  • Sandro from Los Angeles/las VegasNot going to say RATM is the goat band but you damn well need to consider them. Been listening to their music for 24 years. I’m a compulsive listener, have their music looping over and over in the gym. Gives me goose bumps every time. Their music is an eye opener and would die a happy man.
    Rage on!!!
  • Chris Manley from Philadelphia PennsylvaniaI feel that rage is still a great voice for the people who see through the lies and opressions of our civil rights. And can't wait to see them in concert. Again .. I worry that this may never happen with our president and the fear that we cause in numbers . But it's time people to care for each other .. no our true enemy and take our power back
  • Liam from The Royal AbodeRobert from Mudville: hold on a tick or two, bro. you think RATM live in a dream world? do you even hear the lyrcs? psychology is effective in any application where you might interact with people. Zack doesn't hate you, probably not Christmas or puppies. he probably would find you politically retarded. much as I do, yo. you shouldn't be here, bruh. but a limp bizkit album, frat guy.
  • David from London, Ont. CanadaWOW, whoever wrote the "fact" section is not a fan. What is unforgivable though is that the research is so horrible. And if you are going to quote a statement that band members make, you have to let it be known where the quote is from. Where to start. 1st Tom is not African American. He is American and happens to be half black. Zach's dad was a poet. I am pretty sure his dad was part mexican & part Indian or Native for fellow Canadians. We don't say Indian like Americans do. The band's relationship was very strained but when Commerford got wasted and climbed on the set behind the podium so he could heckle Limp Bizkit when they were getting their award Zack was totally embarrassed and effectively was the "straw that broke the camel's back" If you know anything about RATM you should know that well before stated above the band had taken a stance on Canada's illegal extradition of A.I.M member, Leonard Peltier where in a "Kangaroo Court" he was convicted of playing a role in the deaths of F.B.I Agents that illegally went on to native ground (out of their legal jurisdiction) and were killed after a firefight ensued. The backstory to the events that unfolded that day is a long one. Robert Redford made a great documentary about it if you would like more information. In the 1st trial all accused were acquitted of all charges. The last song off the band's 1st Album - Freedom (the song that they almost always close out a show w/) and has the famous line, "Your Anger Is A Gift" was written about people that have given their freedom to fight some moral wrong. If the song is not directly about Peltier - the video definitely is. If you have seen Dave Grohl's doc called Sound City it talks about the studio where albums like Nevermind were recorded and many other famous albums. One being RATM's 1st Album. They brought a bunch of friends into the studio and recorded it like a small live gig. You can see it on the doc. If you own a copy of RATM last live show in L.A. (before reunion)they have AMAZING Bonus Footage of the band playing LIVE Across the street from the National Democratic Convention. The show caused L.A. Police to get in full riot gear and had their helicopter flying overhead. It was considered an unlawful assembly and then warned over loudspeaker to disperse or would be considered unlawful combatants and would be arrested or more realistically for police to be assaulted and beaten into submission. Del A Rocha made sure to address the crowd at the final show about the actions of the Police. I guess a couple things unique about RAGE is that on their 1st album and other releases from them they make sure to put in the liner notes that all sounds were made by guitar, bass, drums and vocals. While performing LIVE they always drape the American Flag Upside down over a speaker stack. When this is done it's meaning is a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property. RATM believe that the government and corporations have hijacked the country, constitution and freedom. A great example is the loss of homes, jobs and lives to the greed of Wall Street and the Privately owned Federal Reserve Bank. All do to massive deregulation of the banking system since the 80's and only getting worse since, regardless of which party is in power. Lastly I would like to point out that RATM did not invent this rap/rock mashup w/ funk slapping bass. This was done long before. Most notably Anthony from The RHCP. They slugged it out from the start of the 80's until Blood Sugar Sex Magik finally made them commercially successful at the start of the 90's. George Clinton is another example. Just scratched the surface and wasted my time but hopefully someone gets something positive from it.
  • Pawn from Taranaki, New ZealandI think rage is the best band ever not only because of their rage style music but because they made us aware to the evil men can do and are doing, lucky for us in New Zealand is that we are not that brain washed by the American establishment or from our own, we don't blame Americans for an establishment they have no control over. the message was received by RATM loud and clear, all country's suffer from these problems that RATM warned us about. I have studied religion for over 10 years and found that the same people that rule everyone's life are the same people behind the re-writings of religion (fear mongering) in order to condition you, make you not question, make you not think outside the square and in return offer you emotional solace. when you pay the church or pay taxes this money goes back to the same place it came from, The bank.
    to take away money you take away poverty, corruption will always exist as long as money exist, its that simple.
    unfortunately over half the world remain ignorant to this and the more they do the worst the world gets.
    Rememder: the worlds in debt to the true kings of Earth, and they did this with scarcity, paper and ink.
    well done.

  • Nayeli from Mexico City, MexicoRATM Es la banda mas pocamadre del mundo. back in 1999 when they where on tour they came to mexico city and perform at EL PALACIO DE LOS DEPORTES. if you know them very well you should know that this was the best concert on their tour and it was released on dvd. check it out and you might be surpriced on how mexicans love them and know all the songs even if a lot of us dont speak english... nayeli,mexico city
  • Beef from Chaska, MnI saw RATM in Minneapolis, MN during the RNC. It was easily the best, most moving concert I have been to. As the thousands of police surrounded the concert (Target Center) de la rocha told the crowd to use peaceful protest and let the police be the instegators. It worked, only a few drunk idiots got arrested but it was made in to a much bigger thing than it really was. The news said it was a riot but it was hardly even close.
  • Brian from Wichita Falls, Txeddie from las cruces, NM - If you know all that, why don't you even know how to spell Zack's name right?
  • Robert from Mudville, CaZack:A heckuva dream world you live in, but I like you a lot. You are an inspiration to me as a poet, and of all the rock bands I've heard, I think RATM is the best. Psychology doesn't work with rock, anyway...you just do what feels good. You probably hate Christmas and puppies and me, too. Hate's cool for a few years. After 50 years of Rock, No Shelter is what turns me on now. I am Colonel Mars and I will show you revolution, son. Pay attention.
  • Eddie from Las Cruces, NmAlso, Zach left the band because he was upset with the other members' preoccupation with fame/pop/MTV. Its sited in a Rolling stone interview where they had a hard time finding him (he was in Chiapas) before making Evil Empire, he was under contract and the other band members had to find him to get the record going.

    Zach was disgusted with the site of a bunch of white frat boys jumping up and down to his music without fully grasping what he meant. He felt they were part of the problem and didn't even know it. Just as with his band mates, he felt that the "appearance" of being an activist or revolutionary is NOT the goal, the goal is to be truly open minded and aware of the issues.

    I remember they did one last ditch effort to spread their word when they did that TRL thing (yes, believe it or not, they were on TRL with that fool, it made me sick), apparently it made Zach sick too, you can see it during the interviews.

    The stuff with Cornell really sucks, I mean musically, socially, and politically. Its just pop now, I don't care how loud you crank you amp - its kiddie-POP.

  • Eddie from Las Cruces, Nmsomeone said "...reason for Zach's Anti-Christian lyrics"

    ... can you site those - and do you really know that they are anti-Christian or is that your own perspective/interpretation?
  • Ian from Birmingham, AlThe good thing about the guitar riffs in rage is that how it goes with the beat of the music,the music is fast paced,ruthless that still pack a meaningful punch with the lyrics added
  • Ian from Birmingham, AlZach de la Rocha really was the essence of the band.What he sang about really was BETTER then any of the stuff that Chris Cornell will ever write,yet I do like some of the songs by Audioslave.But Rage is so many levels better.The riffs unified with the music.If Zach had never left the band to go solo and if the others stopped believing in the political statements that trouble the world,Rage would still be making music and better then ever because the world has so many more problems today.
  • Steven from Waldwick, NjCan't wait for RATM'S Reunion at Coachella! 4-29-07
  • Logan from Saskatoon, Canadain april 07 rage might get back together for 1 show, tickets range from 200 bucks :/
  • Matt from Somewhere, Cajeremy, i can tell you right now that zach did not write the riffs for Rage...that was all Morello. Zach came up with all the lyrics, but the guitar was Tom.
  • Hayden from Ontario, Canadai truly wish rage got back together and in audioslave you can just see who rights each song and if it were'nt for rick rubin audioslave wouldnt be around. the only thing i like about audioslave is that toms riffs are awesome and maybe the fact that they are happy together but still there probably will never be a band quite like rage.
  • Daniel from Los Angeles, CaFor all you guys who were not there during the early nineties, Rage rose out of the ashes of L.A glam rock scene. They educated a generation of rich white kids, east coast punks, southern racist, chicano activist and mexican nationals. they brought political awareness worldwide. As with all of us we get older and let let others take the lead. rage will always be responsible for letting us know how it really goes down. if you weren't there then you are to damn young. Late
  • Ariel from Woodbridge, CtAudioslave is a very different band than RATM, Zach de La Rocha is a politically themed musician, Audioslave is not trying to be Rage witha new singer, it is trying to be a new band, with its own merits...
  • Linda from Norfolk, EnglandWhat was the latest song Zach put out? And who was it with? I haven't heard of anything... if anyone could tell me it would be a great help. :)
  • Jacob from Stocholm, SwedenRATM are not the same at all whitout Zach.
    Auioslave are a good band but not the same feeling like it was when Zach was a member of Ratm, but lest thank Zach, Tom, Tim and Chis for all the wonderful songs you dudes have give us.
    Songs like Know your Ememy, Killing in the name and Take The Power Back have saved my life, Tanks

  • Timothy from Bloomington, InZach didnt have much musical Talent... Audioslave is a fresh start. I can see how Zach pissed Chris Brad Tim and Tom off.
  • Herbaceous from Perth, Warage against the machine were awsome audioslave dont suck but they also dont rule yes zach should put more music out because he is pure lyrical genious
  • Zak from Skaneateles, NyI think Audioslave is just fine the way it is with Chriss Cornel. There not Rage Against the Machine anymore, there Audioslave. Even though they arent as good as Rage, or political, adn all the other things, there still a kick ass band, and the riffs dont suck. If you where in there possition, or a real musicians positon (like myself) you would understand, and when creative differences like that happen u have to go with the flow (like Audioslave) and make things happen.
  • Bob from Tokyo, JapanRelations between the different band members were tense throughout their career. They would seldom socialize or spend time together outside their music, so it was inevitable that the band would fall apart in some way. Although incredibly talented, Zach was a hard person to work with creatively.
  • Jeremy from Los Angeles, CaQuestion: Is it known why zach split from rage? Because zach currently making music (singles like We Want it All, etc.). Also, a little known fact: Zach wrote ALL THE RAGE RIFFS! Wonder why audioslave's guitar sucks? Because Tom is writing them. Make no mistake, tom is a great guitarist, but, like people before me have said, rage against the machine is nothing without Zach. Further, in response to the comments that "you cant sing angry music forever:" Audioslave's music doesnt mean anything. Its pointless--its just like all the other bullcrap lyrics that every other band is putting out. Rage was incredibly infulential and they made a difference. Audioslave is here for the money, and theyre getting it.
    Jeremy, Los Angeles
  • Linda from Norfolk, EnglandI don't think RATM will ever be the same without Zack. He was their esscence. A band has to be a unit to make it work- I don't think Chris Cornell is a very good replacement. Audioslave don't have the attitude and passion RATM did, it's a shame.
  • Julie from Perth, Wa, AustraliaWhy bother criticising Audioslave, with a few people out there saying its a pathetic RATM replacement without Zach who is god. Now its Chris Cornell has sold out and Audioslave are a just a softrock band. Don't forget all these guys are getting older so of course their musical styles will mellow out. There's nothing more cringeworthy than seeing someone pretending to be angry decade after decade. At some point you've got to let the next wave pick up the reins and run with them. Maybe that is why we haven't heard from Zach and it is time for him too to rethink the next phase of his musical journey as it seems his former band and Cornell have done. Not many people pushing 40 feel the same anger about the same issues they did as a 20-something....
  • Tom from Trowbridge, EnglandWere personally sought out by U2 singer Bono to support them on their Achtung Baby tour in the early 90s. Bono and Tom Morello are long-term friends.
  • Kyle from Amherst Is., Canadawhere the hell is zack? One song with D.J. shadow over the past 4odd years just doesn't satisfy. Was he treatened after making the 'testify' video during the whole Bush-Gore contention thing?
    I see a void in the music scene with out him.
  • Rowan from San Carlos, CaRage Against the machine without ZDLR is pointless pretty much, as far as I'm concerned. It's not as much about the music itself as it is the lyrics--albeit the exceptional music adds to the powerful influence of the lyrics.
  • Matt from KrakÃ?w, PolandAlthough De La Rocha is not a member of the band anymore, and the band is maybe not so politially active anymore, I regard this change of singer as a good thing. Musically, the band became more valuable. That's because Cornell really SINGS, and he is SO good at it. Constructive change it was.
  • Tom from Trowbridge, EnglandChris, do you seriously believe that you can sing better than Chris Cornell, the best rock singer of all time behind Freddie Mercury and Robert Plant? Then I for one would like to hear it!
  • Stephen from Miami, FlTom Morello is still very politically active. In addition to his work with Audioslave, he is now a folk singer under the alias "The Nightwatchman". His songs are primarily political and socioeconomic. He is also one of the founders of the Axis of Justice, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to bring together other musicians, fans, and organizations in the fight for social justice and related issues. The other founder is Serj Tankian of System of a Down. They've got a ".org" website for anyone who wants to check it out.
  • Chris from Li,ny, NyDe La Rocha needs to get back in that band, and the rest of them need to get together on it. Cornell needs a poprock band. I sing better than he does. This is worse than David Lee Roth leaving Van Halen. It would be cool if they all just liked swapping partners and got back together for the real music, the way the dead did, but you'd need an open mind, and I guess a politically motivated band doesn't have the thinking capacity. I hope that I am wrong, I hope they proveme wrong and make a few more songs.
  • Jake from Anderson, Inwhat ever happened to zach de la rocha will always be a debate but i feel soundgardens chris cornell will fill in his spot very well
  • Rachel from C.wood, Canadathe band audioslave is rage without de la roche...just a new lead singer. the band stopped believing in what de la roche was singing.
  • Marlow from Perth, Australiaat one point , the singer from cyprus hill was going to replace de la rocha......
see more comments

Editor's Picks


HardySongwriter Interviews

The country hitmaker talks about his debut album, A Rock, and how a nursery rhyme inspired his hit single "One Beer."

Dean Pitchford

Dean PitchfordSongwriter Interviews

Dean wrote the screenplay and lyrics to all the songs in Footloose. His other hits include "Fame" and "All The Man That I Need."

Fire On The Stage

Fire On The StageSong Writing

When you have a song called "Fire," it's tempting to set one - these guys did.

Michael Franti

Michael FrantiSongwriter Interviews

Franti tells the story behind his hit "Say Hey (I Love You)" and explains why yoga is an integral part of his lifestyle and his Soulshine tour.

Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World

Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat WorldSongwriter Interviews

Jim talks about the impact of "The Middle" and uses a tree metaphor to describe his songwriting philosophy.

Bill Withers

Bill WithersSongwriter Interviews

Soul music legend Bill Withers on how life experience and the company you keep leads to classic songs like "Lean On Me."