Last July, on the second stop of their world tour in Chicago, Rage Against the Machine’s frontman Zack de la Rocha severed his left Achilles tendon that left a mere 8 inches of the tendon intact. He soldiered on for 17 shows, performing while seated on a flight case—including a three-night run at Madison Square Garden—but they skipped the tour’s European leg, and by October the band had canceled every remaining date, 38 in all. The shows have yet to be rescheduled. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, guitarist Tom Morello reflected on the truncated tour, the possibility of rescheduling the missed dates, and their recent nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“Zack toughed it out that night,” Morello said. “And for the next 17 shows, he was more compelling as a frontman sitting on a box in the middle of the stage than 99 percent of the frontmen in the history of all time.” He also attempted to clear the air about which COVID-19 precautions were enforced at the shows (“no fans at any show in the history of Rage Against the Machine have ever had a vaccination requirement to be in the room. Ever.”) and their use of Ticketmaster’s controversial dynamic pricing.
Morello explained that with the exception of “about five to ten percent,” every other ticket sold to their shows cost $125. The exceptions were subject to dynamic pricing, which adjusts ticket prices to the most-wanted seats based on demand. The practice recently caused an uproar among fans of Bruce Springsteen, whose latest shows saw the face value of tickets climb as high as $4,000. Morello says every penny collected over $125 went to charity. “In New York City, we raised over a million dollars for activist organization charities,” he said. “There was a total of about six or seven million raised on that tour in what was basically a Robin Hood tactic.”
When pressed for details on when Rage Against the Machine might perform again, or whether or not they were even still a band, Morello demurred, saying he himself did not know.
“Rage Against the Machine is like the ring in Lord of the Rings,” he said. “It drives men mad. It drives journalists mad. It drives record industry people mad. They want it. They want the thing, and they’re driven mad. If there are Rage shows, if there are not Rage shows, you’ll hear from the band. I do not 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 criticized the Rock Hall’s “Sexist Gatekeeping” in an op-ed for the Guardian. Morello has said he will attend if the band is inducted, but avoided speculating why they’ve been shut out four times.
“I do know there’s a funny mix of people that do the voting,” he said. “It’s people that are already in. There’s an age component. There’s a leaning mainstream component as well. I think that Willie Nelson deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and artists from various genres do as well. If you saw any of the Rage Against the Machine shows last summer, you’d be hard-pressed to make an argument against us.”
Morello is currently preparing for upcoming dates with his band the Freedom Fighters Orchestra. Last year he joined Wayne Kramer’s MC5 revival on a new song called “Heavy Lifting.”