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Australian RATM Article
Rage Against The Machine's performance at the recent Big Day Out on the Gold Coast had fans, critics and even rival record company executives singing their praises. The band performed at the Big Day Out in Perth on Sydney February 4.

Nailbomb put a diagram of how to construct a crude but highly effective explosive in the CD packaging of their Proud To Commit Commercial Suicide album. But you had to take out the CD to see it. Rage Against The Machine on the other hand didn't want their do-it-yourself guide to the world of molotov cocktails obscured by anything; they slapped it on the back of a T-shirt: A simple gesture for training the street soldiers for any eventualities.

"The only real trouble we've had was in France," said Rage Against The Machine's extremely pleasant guitarist Tom Morello, who played in a high school punk band called the Electric Sheep with Adam Jones of Tool. "We had to get out of the country before the authorities confiscated all of our stuff - and probably us," he continued. "They took it pretty seriously over there. Other than that I've been really surprised that nowhere else has there been that kind of reaction to it because it's pretty explicit on how to make and detonate the molotov cocktail. I think that kind of thing is important. If people are not checking the Anarchist Cookbook out of the library any more they can always look at the back of a Rage Against The Machine T-shirt the next time civil disorder breaks out in the neighbourhood."

Understand that Rage Against The Machine - led by the militant poetry, oratory and singing of Zack De La Rocha - are in a mighty powerful position. Their seething self titled debut album of metal rap clocked up unignorable platinum sales and songs like Killing in the Name were rallying cries of Nuremberg proportions at their gigs, on the journey home afterwards and beyond. That success afforded them the relative luxury of being able to seriously spotlight social wounds and essentially build greater and more effective ammunition in terms of communication and solidarity with which to address those issues. The response to their first ever 'gig' in the living room of one of bass player Timmy C's friends at Huntington Beach in California with - according to Tom - a mere five and a half songs showed them they were onto something. Their appearance at the UK's Reading Festival in 1993 showed them how big that something was.

"That was actually the first time we played for a very large audience that was familiar with our music. It was a day where it dawned on me that maybe we have something that's pretty special going on. It seemed to be something that translated in a large venue with the same kind of impact that a lot of bands are only able to achieve in more intimate confines. Normally when we're playing our songs personally I'm in the moment and rocking out, but if you take a look out and see actually what's going on it's staggering sometimes," he laughed.

And did Tom find that an empowering or frightening experience? "Not really frightening," he says. "The live thing is both a very visceral experience and it's something that hopefully is very energising and you get that back from the audience. When I was younger and going to heavy-metal shows you'd bring all your frustrations, your sexual frustrations, your family problems, your job problems, whatever, into the arena and you let it all out and you'd go home drained. I get the sense that at the best shows people go away angrier than when they came in and with more resolve. Hopefully, they'll be inspired to do more than go home to be the well behaved consumers that their masters want them to be. It's music to fan the flames of discontent."

And fanning those flames - as the old saying goes- begins at home: Exhibit A: Material for Rage Against The Machine's second album, titled Evil Empire and due in March, wasn't exclusively previewed to a select group of fans, friends or music industry types. Instead in early September Rage Against The Machine held a benefit show for the Chiappas Indians of South America in Zack's warehouse home: Around 500 turned up for a set that included NWA's Fuck The Police. The drums got trashed at the end of the show. Zack's probably still finding guitar picks in his breakfast cereal. The exercise was one of assistance not a publicity stunt. CNN wasn't alerted in advance. It was just business as usual for Rage Against The Machine:

"It was pretty warm in there," Tom laughed. "In the last year we've played three or four benefit concerts which are a great venue to air new material as well as bring some money in for a good cause."

Tom has always kept the riffs for the soundtrack for those causes on cassette: Most of the band`s first album songs like Bombtrack, Freedom and Township rebellion had roots on one tape. Hopefully the guitarist believes in insurance. "The riff from Killing In The Name was on the cassette. Every song that I've ever come up with or written a part of has gone through that little cassette player. Tragically it's broken in the last couple of weeks," he laughed. "I'm not normally very superstitious, but I had to go out and buy exactly the same kind. I've had that thing for 10 years so now the kind that I wanted was the most outdated and cheapest. I had to go back to the same store to get it."

In radical terms Tom comes from fine blood stock. His father, who lives in Kenya, was a member of the infamous Mau Mau guerrilla group that freed the country from British ruling ties. His mother, who lives in Chicago, is a founding member of the anti-censorship organisation, Parents For Rock and Rap. Ma Morello went so far as to introduce Rage Against The Machine at Lollapalooza as: 'The best fucking band on the tour'. Needless to say the band's new album material has been put before her for appraisal. "Yes, of course. She's always hungry for tapes of whatever so she can pass judgement on it. She's a pretty harsh critic, but she seems to like this stuff a lot. It has to pretty heavy for mum."

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