Metal Wani's Jesse David recently conducted an interview with RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE and PROPHETS OF RAGE guitarist Tom Morello about his forthcoming solo album, "The Atlas Underground". You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On "The Atlas Underground":
Tom: "The new album is a 'sonic conspiracy.' It's a collection of diverse artists who are like-minded who have come together to forge a brand-new genre that combines my Marshall stack, crazy guitar riff rock power with huge bass-drops and forward-looking sonic business. It is a record that has KNIFE PARTY, Bassnectar, Big Boi, Killer Mike, Portugal The Man, Vic Mensa, MUMFORD & SONS, Steve Aoki, RISE AGAINST, K. Flay, PRETTY FLIGHTS, Gary Clark Jr., Leikeli47 and WU-TANG CLAN as your collaborators. The idea was, I've made a lot of records and I wanted to be able to push myself as a guitarist and create something that was a different kind of hard rock music. I discovered KNIFE PARTY and Skrillex who are huge RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE fans. I was always against electronic music. To me, it sounded like Italian taxi cab music, but then I found there was this section that sounded, it hit me in the same way that really good metal hit me. It had a lot of the same tension in the release of the RAGE song 'Bullet In The Head'. It had the sonic delivery of some of my favorite AC/DC and METALLICA songs. I said 'What if we replace your synthesizers with my electric guitar and crazy noises? And we're onto something that hasn't been done before."
On trying to create new and inventive sounds:
Tom: "In the same way we sort of forged a brand-new kind of music with RAGE where we combined metal and hip-hop and punk, I wanted to do that again. I'm never satisfied as a guitar player, I'm never satisfied as an artist to rest on my laurels. I wanted to create heavy guitar music, but in a brand-new context, not just running the same rat race over and over again."
On how long he's been working on "The Atlas Underground":
Tom: "I've been working on it over the course of the last couple of years. In between PROPHETS OF RAGE and playing with Bruce Springsteen and doing other stuff, but it's finally coming to fruition. The record's coming out October 12, a couple of singles are out already. One of the important thematic threads in the record was social justice ghost stories. We wanted to tell the stories of heroes and martyrs of the past in order to sort of shed light on the future and have a beacon toward a more just and decent future. The music that I've been involved in has always touched on social justice events and these collaborations while the points of view of WU-TANG CLAN and MUMFORD & SONS, might be vastly different, we've found overlap and a like-mindedness. The mere existence where you've got people of different genders, different genres, different ages, different ethnicities, who have all come together to make this artistic statement, in itself is a statement."
On how PROPHETS OF RAGE's forthcoming sophomore studio album will compare to their 2017 debut:
Tom: "I think the debut PROPHETS record was we wanted to sort of do what it is that we do, which is big riffs, crazy solos, Chuck D and B-Real doing their thing. This new record, we're looking beyond outside of ourselves. Tim [Commerford, bass] and Brad [Wilk, drums] and I made a lot of records together and so, each of us on this are challenging ourselves to go beyond what we've done before."
On how the dynamic between him, Commerford and Wilk has changed over the years:
Tom: "Well, the one thing is from the very first time that we played together on August 31, 1991 to today, we've had the same chemistry. There's just a way that those three people play together that has a particular feel to it. Like, prior meeting Tim and Brad, I was dragging around some of the riffs that ended up on the first RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE. I played those riffs with very talented musicians. It didn't sound anything like that. It's just the way Brad and Tim lock in and it's Tim's ferocious playing and the way that matches with my riffing, it's something that is very unique. I got to tell you: The other day when we were in rehearsal, whether we're playing 'Know Your Enemy' or a brand-new PROPHETS OF RAGE song, we lock in a way that is very different than any other three musicians."
On whether he thought RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE would ever last as long as it did:
Tom: "There was a band that was very volatile. It was, I think, kind of miraculous that we made four records. I'm so glad that we did. That's the silver lining of that volatility is that we made four records I'm really proud of."
On whether he thinks President Donald Trump will ever be impeached:
Tom: "[Laughs] We live in very dangerous times. Dangerous times demand dangerous music and that's one of the reasons I made 'The Atlas Underground' record. In this era of racism and polarized opinion, I've made a record where it's people of different genders, different ethnicities, people of different generations, people of different music genres who have all come together in the spirit of solidarity and love to create something together. While there are statements on the record, the record itself is a statement when stands in stark contrast to a lot of what's going on in our country."
"The Atlas Underground" will be released October 12 through Mom + Pop Music.