The band recently confronted a fan who was shocked their music was political...let's revisit some of those iconic moments
"Scott!!" exclaimed Rage Against The Machine's legendary guitarist Tom Morello.
"What music of mine were you a fan of that DIDN'T contain "political BS"? I need to know so I can delete it from the catalog." The snarky comment was in response to Twitter user Scott Castaneda, who was discouraged to learn that Rage Against The Machine was raging against the machine.
Castaneda, whose account no longer exists, was frustrated to learn the band had long been touting the ethos of political metal. In hindsight, it's impressive that a person of Castaneda's ignorant caliber even exists, as the group has always screamed about their beliefs from the highest rooftop. Hell, Morello himself gained notoriety in the Fox News circuit for saying Bush and his administration should be "hung to death then shot" during his band's 2007 Coachella set. Here are a few of RATM's most significant political moments for the uninitiated, so that we can deter more Scott Castanedas from saying these ludicrous things out loud.
Saturday Night Live 1996
Rage Against The Machine is currently banned from SNL for life after their 1996 performance of "Bulls on Parade" went awry. The host for the evening was none other than billionaire presidential candidate, Steve Forbes. Once they learned this information, the band was even more amped to perform. According to Morello, the group "wanted to stand in sharp juxtaposition to a billionaire telling jokes" and wanted to use the performance as an opportunity to make their own statement. That statement included hanging American flags upside down from their amplifiers, but SNL wouldn't have it. The comedy show refused to espouse political messages and pulled the flags right before the band was set to take the stage.
Officials asked for them to leave the building; but instead, bassist Tim Commerford dashed for Forbes' dressing room, tossing tidbits of a torn American flag. They still went on to perform but have never been welcomed back again.
DNC Performance of 2000
Their DNC protest performance was Rage Against The Machine at their most rambunctious. "Our democracy has been hijacked!" called out Zack de la Rocha as the DNC took place across the street at the Los Angeles Staples Center. "Our electoral freedoms in this country are over so long as it's controlled by corporations!" The band launched into an epic 40-minute performance that encompassed all the hits, from "Sleep Now in the Fire" to "Testify," "Bulls on Parade," and MC5's "Kick Out the Jams." Like the RNC protest eight years later, the performance kicked off a mini-riot, which had to be ended by police.
The 2008 RNC PerformanceWatch In High Quality! Some footage from the RNC Convention Riot's after the Rage Concert Downtown Minneapolis Wednesday Sep.3rd 2008...
The "Sleep Now in the Fire" Video Shoot
It's been over two decades since RATM tapped political filmmaker Michael Moore to direct their music video for "Sleep Now in the Fire." Taken from their 1999 masterpiece, The Battle of Los Angeles, the shoot resulted in a near-riot and total shutdown of the New York Stock Exchange. Mayor Rudy Giuliani forbade the band from recording and performing on Wall Street, but of course, RATM did it anyway. With cameras rolling, Moore watched as cops attempted to stop the band as they dove into the opening chords of "Sleep Now in the Fire." Shortly after, Moore himself was led away by police, as the band continued to play despite cops sneering at them. As the tension progressed, so did the madness. The final product would go down as one of the most iconic music videos in history.
Rage Against Torture
Upon learning that their music was being used to torture prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in 2004, RATM and Nine Inch Nails, among other bands, formed the Rage Against Torture coalition that sought to end the use of music in torture. Called "Zero db," Trent Reznor, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Jackson Browne, Rosanne Cash, Billy Bragg, and the Roots joined forces to protest the use of music in torture. They all joined the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo and also sought to declassify all secret government records pertaining to the use of music in interrogations. "We need truth and accountability now," wrote the band. "The American public must push the government to disclose more details about its program of extraordinary rendition, illegal detentions, and use of torture, and expose how music is used to torture."