|THE ARCHIVE ORGAN INTERVIEW... SPRING 1993 HOME|
|RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE|
an interview with Rage Against The Machine that first appeared in the spring
of '93 in issue 32 of Organ just as Rage were breaking out of the underground
and become a name all around the world for the first time...... read onů..
ORGAN contributor JOHNNY ROCKET (of The Prisoner Club) encounters RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE's ZACK DE LA ROCHA. Rage maintain a very political stance, so off went Johnny to find out just how political...
JOHNNY: For a while now I've carried the idea of an international conference on social change between artists, writers, musicians - anyone with something to say. If such an event was to take place which issues would you like to see discussed?
ZACK: That kind of congress would be a great idea, at least to begin a kind of dialogue between different communties. We are involved in this thing in L.A. called the L.A. Poverty Dept. (L.A.P.D.). L.A.P.D provides a forum for homeless people to exhibit their artwork and poetry. What we're trying to do is bridge the gap between the underground rock fraternity and the homeless one, a community so close and yet so seperate. A lot of people are aware of the gaps between have/have nothings, but don't have the knowledge of homeless people except to pass them in the street ocassionally. L.A.P.D. is an attempt to break barriers between the two communities through art.With regards to your proposed conference, I would suggest an initial recognition of the fundemental issues going on in this society - race realations, the class basis of race problem. No one is born a bigot, the furtherance of racism can be blamed on a few ignorant parents. I think its important to recognise the importance of the of racism to help maintain the status quo. It's divide and rule with blacks played off against the Koreans, Chicanos verses blacks, poor whites against Chicanos - and if you break down the barrier of racism some of these groups may realise that not only do they have a lot in common but some of these groups may have a common enemy as well. That's when we can begin addressing the real issues. Racism is a symptom rather than a cause of the problems, recognising that is very important.
JOHNNY: On a slightly different tangent, are you aware of any British underground ideas coming into the States?
JOHNNY: So, we don't have a U.S/U.K. dialogue of ideas, simply a kind of cultural imperialism on behalf of the USA, an attempt to strenghthen the hold not just of the power of this world but the way we live and think as well?
ZACK: Yes, I think that's true. I do feel that the cultural take over Britain feels from the States is only a small measure of the cultutal imperialism America is inflicting on the whole world. Leading the charge is the IMF which is now rushing in on the former Soviet bloc. All of a sudden people in one time communist countries are realising that the market economy doesn't mean everyone drinking, driving Porsches and Lambourghinis...... it's 'Welcome to the world of illiteracy and homelessness'. We just played in Berlin, whilst I was there I visited what remainds of the Berlin wall. On one corner of the wall I found a section painted black with each of the years and the people killed going over since it was built painted on it. On the otherside, the Eastern side of the wall was a huge Toyota sign. No one in East Germeny can afford a Toyota. It's welcome to capitalism and the joys of it. I think the propoganda machine - from Radio Free Europe to Dallas and Dynasty give people a really false impression of what American society is about
JOHNNY: Recently we have seen a real decline in living standards in Britain, from increased unemployment and homelessness to lowered real standards of welfare benefit. Do you think, as I do, that with the defeat of Russian Communism the powers that be don't feel it's necessary to give us even the illusion of socialism having defeated the strongest non capitalist power structure that existed.
ZACK: I think to a certain extent that's true. In the U.S. poverty began with the Reagan years. Trickle Down economics was an obvious lie, enriching the top % of the population at the expense of workers worldwide, exploited by our corporations to help buy off some of the middle classes to act as a buffer against the have nots. I'd say that it could be as cynically motivated as you say.
JOHNNY: I ask everybody this - Are you a prisoner?
ZACK: Absolutely, I think that when you're indoctrinated through the educational system in the States. I hope I am a prisoner who is begining to escape that particular cage, a recognition that you are in such a cage to begin with. I think to an extent it's cells within cells. Being black in the States is something completely out of control. I grew up in a predominantely white community. I encountered subtle racism in the classroom and such overt racism as waking up one morning to go to school and finding a noose in my garage. Its getting worse though. Recently, in a school I went to, a chapter of the Klu Klux Klan was unearthed. 20 or 30 kids were paying bigger kids to to beat up other students for being hippies, Asians or whatever. Racism is a serious problem in the States.
JOHNNY: You're getting a lot of media coverage at the moment. Worldwide there are a lot of other good people, good bands with something to say who aren't enjoying such coverage, are there any U.S bands we should know about at the moment?
ZACK: Always happy to pass on news of other bands. In L.A. in particular there's Spinewire, Stamford Prison Experiment. A group called Tool. Tool aren't political, but I think they are important because they make people angry, sometimes I think that can be enough - jolt people out of complacency, even if their anger is completely unfocused we can work later on giving it direction.
JOHNNY: Future Plans?
ZACK: The immediate future is full of touring. We're working on ideas for another video. First off we have had to wrestle with the idea of wiether or not to make a video. I lean toards the idea of using the opportunity to puncture the fabric of disinformation, racism and homophobia with five minutes of truth. MTV Stateside goes to 40 million homes. That's 40 million minds constantly in the hands of Epson, Dow Jones, MC Hammer or whoever's in control. To use our five minutes of video fame to show the most pissed off, politically controversial images is something I see as positive. It's something we're debating a lot because we aren't sure yet. There are two agendas in Rage Against The Machine. The artistic agenda would lead us to being Fugazi. We would mentain our own record company. However, we hope to accomplish more than any independant band had been able to do. With that in mind we made a conscious decision to sign to Epic records, we can now reach out to places like London as well as L.A.......
JOHNNY: I believe the midweek chart position on your new single was 24.....
ZACK: Sweet Mother. I think that's a subversive thing. There's a lot of pissed off young people in Prague, Stockholm, Louisville Kentucky. They should all get to know each other...... I think that maintaining an exchange of ideas is very important. Two revelations occured with this band, the first was that we discovered that our politics was not a turn off to the audience. The vein of dissatisfaction that we've tapped into is very wide, very deep. The second was the discovery that our US centric politics translate across the Atlantic. Young people are aware of the same ideas and problems in Europe. That is good news and bad news. Bad because it's happening everywhere, good because at least we all share common ground.
Rage Against The Machine, P.O. Box 2052, Los Angeles, CA 90069, USA.
wrote for Organ in the early 90's - THE PRISONER CLUB was run by Johnny
and his positive, creative friends. The club skiped around various London
venues presenting challenging and diverse bills of bands. Back in the early
90's Prisoner Club newsletters with lots of contact addresses, facts, opinions
could be found left around lots of venues and handed out at events. There
was never a contact address as such for Johnny and Company as they were
(and probably still are) always hoping from squat to squat organising events...
It was just a case of watching out for those flyers around town and getting
along - lot of creative people passed through Organland over the last 20