Rage Against The Machine’s Tim Commerford recalls the band’s 1993 naked protest against censorship – and being most concerned by the appearance of his manhood.
Bass player Commerford and his bandmates took to the stage at Lollapalooza in 1993 wearing nothing but gags over their mouths in a remarkable protest against the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Centre) – an organisation backed by politician Al Gore’s wife and which introduced the Parental Advisory stickers still added to many album covers.
And while the then fledgling band took a big risk by using one of the biggest opportunities to showcase their talents to instead make the protest, Commerford remembers being embarrassed by the sight of his penis, which he describes as looking like “half roll of nickels.”
He tells The Dan LeBetard Show: “I referred to that moment for me as a half roll of nickels. It was as if I came out of the ocean.. it was incredible. I was trying to fluff things up to get the blood flow to happen. But it wasn’t really happening.
“We were on the main stage and we were the first band on. It was right when people started to know and like us in America. This was our big moment. We went onstage and it was back when Tipper Gore, Al Gore’s wife, had just started the PMRC to spearhead the Parental Advisory stickers that they, to this day, put on records. We were against that, we thought it sucked.
“We were like, ‘We shouldn’t play this show, we should protest it.’ Our way to do that was to go onstage with our instruments and then just lean them against the amplifiers and let them feed back – and do it all naked. We had PMRC, on our chests, each guy had a different letter on his chest.
“When we walked out onstage people loved it, they were cheering. But little did they know, we weren’t planning on playing a note. After 10 minutes of standing there naked, what started as cheers turned into bottle throwing, people were just bummed out. We were hauled off by the police… that was a special moment.”
Rage Against The Machine have not played together since 2011 and, last year, drummer Brad Wilk hinted that they are unlikely to make a comeback.