Rage Against the Machine is coming back. This is not a drill. I swear this is not me believing something that happened in a dream and running wildly around broadcasting false information.
It’s actually happening.
One of the most powerful and influential bands of the 1990s is getting back together. It’s all four members too!
This isn’t one of those half-assed reunion jobs where half of the original band heads out on the road with a bunch of ringers trying to pass themselves off as the real deal. Zack de la Rocha, Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk are all on board.
The reunion was announced in November of last year and that announcement was followed by news that the band would be playing a few dates at a handful of summer music festivals (Coachella, Firefly, and Boston Calling). It gave longtime fans hope that something bigger would be coming down the pike, which is what happened on Monday when a full summer tour was announced.
Rage kicks things off in late March with three shows in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona (with all proceeds from those shows going directly to organizations fighting for immigrant rights). After Coachella, they’ll hit the road with Run the Jewels for the summer for the “Public Service Announcement” Tour.
And then what?
Well, that is just one of the many questions I have about this Rage reunion.
1. Does This Mean We Might Get A New Rage Album?
Well friends, so far there hasn’t been any word about the band getting back into the studio. So the short answer is “No.”
Ah, but the long answer?
It’s also “No”—or, more accurately, “Who the hell knows?”
When the band got back together at the end of the first decade of the millennium, there was a lot of talk about the group recording a new album but none of it really went anywhere. There was ultimately never a new record (or even a new song).
So, at present, I’d say it’s hard to think any differently about this reunion, but at the same time, it’s anyone’s guess.
2. Wait, Rage Already Got Back Together?
In April of 2007, the band headlined the final night of Coachella around the time Audioslave (which included Morello, Commerford, and Wilk) broke up. It was a performance that was initially meant to be a one-shot deal but evolved into a series of shows throughout the following summer.
Rage then continued to play shows in 2008 including several festivals over in Europe. That August, they headlined the Tent State Music Festival to End the War during the Democratic National Convention in Denver. A month later, they then played a show in Minneapolis during the Republican National Convention.
In June 2010, the band played a free show in London followed by a handful of sets at a few European festivals. Later that month, they also returned home to play a gig in Los Angeles. It was their first show in the States in two years and raised over $300,000 for Arizona organizations fighting against new immigration laws and policies.
A year later, the band held its first festival, The L.A. Rising. It would be their last show before going on a hiatus that lasted until the reunion was announced last year.
So yes, they did get back together in 2010 and actually, they first got back together in 2007, after
3. Speaking Of Audioslave, Why Wasn’t That Band Better?
I DON’T KNOW!
I will never know. None of us will.
Between that and the high cost of razor blades, some things just can’t be explained.
On paper, it definitely should have worked. It could have been the second coming of Led Zeppelin, and no, I’m not being hyperbolic here. You had the stomp and power of Rage’s music combined with the soaring perfection of Chris Cornell’s vocals.
In theory, it totally should have worked. In practice, not so much.
I guess that’s why we play the game, though.
4. What Has Zack de la Rocha Been Up To?
We know what the other members of Rage have been up to in recent years, but not the band’s singer. The Rage frontman was oddly absent from Prophets of Rage, the supergroup consisting of Morello, Commerford, Wilk, and rappers B-Real and Chuck D, which came together in the spring of 2016.
Was he just not interested? Was he busy? Was he not interested in being busy?
From what I can tell, nothing was ever really brought up as to why de la Rocha wasn’t involved in Prophets of Rage, but part of the reason seemed to be that he was preoccupied doing his own thing.
A few months after Prophets came together, de la Rocha released “Digging For Windows.” The track, which was produced by El-P of Run the Jewels, was said to be the first one from an upcoming solo album.
The album never came out though, which is weird because El-P had confirmed that it would, and if you can’t believe El-P, who can you really believe?
And you wonder why fans sometimes develop trust issues with the acts that they love.
Prior to the release of “Digging For Windows,” de la Rocha appeared on “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck” off of Run the Jewels 2, and back in 2008, he played in One Day As A Lion with former Mars Volta and current Queens of the Stone Age drummer Jon Theodore.
More recently, de la Rocha has been hitting the gym.
It’s hard to lead a revolution if you keep getting winded.
5. What Does This Mean For The 2020 Presidential Election?
Something fun! Or at least I hope.
The timing of Rage’s return is definitely interesting in light of the fact that as a country, we’re staring down the barrel of what will surely be a nasty, gnarly, and bitterly divisive presidential election. It’s hard to imagine the band sitting this one out. It’s not like they’ve done it before.
It’s worth noting the last time Rage came back was on the eve of the 2008 election. Prophets of Rage also appeared outside of the RNC Convention, adopting the slogan “Make America Rage Again.”
Let’s just say that the band has a track record of being engaged in American politics, and given that 2020 looks to be a landmark year in that sphere, it’s a safe bet that Rage will be involved.
Well, a quick look at their tour schedule shows a break between their show in Detroit on July 13 and a performance in Ottawa on July 17. Interestingly enough, the 2020 Democratic National Committee Convention is taking place in Milwaukee July 13 through July 16. A month later, they also have a break when the Republican’s convention is happening in Charlotte August 24 through August 27.
I know, weird, huh?
It could be nothing. It could be something.
My money is on something though (again, something fun, I hope).
Either way, Rage Against the Machine is back and that’s some damn good news.