Tom Morello Talks Rage Against the Machine’s Reunion Tour, Band’s Future, and Ticket Prices

Last July, at the second stop of his world tour in Chicago, Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha severed his left Achilles tendon, leaving just 8 inches of the tendon intact. He went on for 17 shows, performing seated in a flight case, including a three-night run at Madison Square Garden, but the European leg of the tour was skipped, and by October the band had canceled all remaining dates, 38 total. The shows have not yet been rescheduled. In a recent interview with Rolling Stoneguitarist Tom Morello reflected on the truncated tour, the possibility of rescheduling missed dates, and his recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination.

“Zack weathered it that night,” Morello said. “And for the next 17 shows, he was more convincing as a front man sitting in a box in the middle of the stage than 99 percent of all-time front men.” He also attempted to clarify what COVID-19 precautions were in place at the shows (“no fan at any show in the history of Rage Against the Machine has had a vaccination requirement to be in the room. Ever”) and his use of the controversial Ticketmaster pricing dynamics.

Morello explained that with the exception of “about five to 10 percent,” all other tickets sold for his shows cost $125. The exceptions were subject to dynamic pricing, which adjusts ticket prices to the most sought-after seats based on demand. The practice recently caused quite a stir among fans of Bruce Springsteen, whose recent shows saw the face value of tickets jump as high as $4,000. Morello says every penny raised above $125 went to charity. “In New York City, we raised over a million dollars for activist charities,” he said. “There was a total of about six or seven million grossed on that tour in what was basically a Robin Hood ploy.”

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When pressed for details about when Rage Against the Machine might perform again, or whether or not they were still a band, Morello demurred, saying that he himself did not know.

“Rage Against the Machine is like the ring in Lord of the Rings,” he said. “It drives men crazy. It drives journalists crazy. It drives people in the record industry crazy. They want it. They want the thing, and they’re crazy. If there’s rage shows, if there’s no rage shows , you will hear from the band. I don’t know. When there is news, it will come from a collective statement from the band. There is no news.

Rage Against the Machine is among the current class of nominees for the 2023 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is the fifth time the band has been nominated. The organization recently came under fire from Courtney Love, who blasted Rock Hall’s “sexist policing” in an opinion piece for the guardian. Morello has said he will attend if the band is included, but he avoided speculating why they have been excluded four times.

“I know there’s a fun mix of people who vote,” he said. “They are people who are already inside. There is an age component. There is also a tilted dominant component. I think Willie Nelson deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and artists of various genres as well. If you watched any of the Rage Against the Machine shows last summer, you’d have a hard time making an argument against us.”

Morello is currently preparing for upcoming dates with his band Freedom Fighters Orchestra. Last year he joined Wayne Kramer’s MC5 revival on a new song called “Heavy Lifting.”

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Tom Morello on the music of his life

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