Prophets of Rage’s Tom Morello Says ‘You Don’t Have to Be Down With the Message’ to Enjoy a Band’s Music
It can feel difficult to separate an artist's ideology from the music, particularly in times of heightened political division. Guitarist Tom Morello has made some of the more politically charged rock 'n' roll of the last quarter-century, but he says he hasn't always shared his favorite artists' points of view — and he insists his latest project, Prophets of Rage, welcomes listeners on either end of the political spectrum.
Weighing in on the subject during a recent interview with HardDrive Radio, which you can watch in two parts above and below, Morello noted that he's not only a fan of right-wing rockers like Ted Nugent and Kid Rock, he counts them among his personal friends. He takes the same approach to the band's audience, arguing that "you don't have to be down with the message" to feel the music's impact. As he put it, "There's a place for you in the pit."
Morello went on to insist that he's always had the ability to enjoy the power of a song, even if he didn't agree with its lyrical message. "I was a huge fan of bands like Mötley Crüe and AC/DC," he added. "The lyrical content was super-misogynist on the one hand and sort of quasi-devil-worshipping on the other, and I was neither down with women-hating or the devil, and yet I loved those bands; they were super-rocking."
That dichotomy fed into Morello's approach to reaching minds through music. "This is not a college culture," he explained. "I love Noam Chomsky, but I don't wanna mosh to him. So the first we have to do is make records that kick your ass, play shows that kick your ass, and then some of those in that audience may respond to the lyrical content or what the band's ideology is."