Tom Morello reflects on Rage Against The Machine split

Tom Morello has reflected on the reasons behind Rage Against The Machine’s split in 2000.

The guitarist was a guest of Lars Ulrich on his It’s Electric show on Apple Music’s Beats 1, where he covered subjects including his new Atlas Underground project, his love of Bruce Springsteen and his memories of being part of Rage Against The Machine with Zack de la Rocha, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk.

Morello says: “I’ll put myself first and foremost. It was a lack of emotional maturity in being able to deal with each other as people. 

“We had political vision and the shows never suffered, but we just couldn’t agree on stuff and that unearthed feelings that made it hard to make records. 

“I think there were competing visions for what it was, should be, and competing feelings about what it was like to be in the band that we didn’t deal with.”

Morello adds: “My version of the band was, ‘Let’s make a record every six months. Let’s be the political Led Zeppelin and let’s overthrow the government and make the best records anyone ever did… by Wednesday, go!’

We had political vision and the shows never suffered, but we just couldn’t agree on stuff and that unearthed feelings that made it hard to make records

Tom Morello

“In that pursuit, I was not always sensitive to the emotional needs of my band members. And everybody has their role in it, but that’s where I contributed to the chaos that eventually ended the band.

“But I will say this, my glass half full version is: For a band that had extremely combustable elements, to be able to have made four records, to be able to have played the shows we did, I think it’s a miracle.”

RATM reunited in 2007 for an appearance at Coachella but asked how close they came to returning to the studio for another album, Morello replies, “Zero.”

He adds: “We had a great time – we had fun onstage and offstage. To me it felt there was a lot of camaraderie. But one of the things that helped was we took off the table everything that had been controversial before: writing music, doing interviews, having a manager – all that stuff.

“We were like, 'We’re just not going to do that stuff. We’re going to play shows, be able to look each other in the eye and have a nice time and not any of the stuff that stirred controversy.'"

Watch the full video interview below.

Last week, Morello’s Prophets Of Rage released a video for their track Who Owns Who and are working on their as-yet-untitled second album.

Morello will release The Atlas Underground on October 12.

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.