Sunday, May 20, 2007

MUSIC: Rage Against the Rage Against the Machine

Get out your dreadin' wax and Che patches - everyone's favorite funk-metal protesters are making a come back, and they's bout to git outspoken on yo ass. And no, we're not talking about Linkin Park, although with the new "What I've Done" video they too seem to have developed a social conscious about... everything, I think...? Seriously, ever since Jay-Z taught them how to really rap, forcing the brown dude to quit his day job and play guitar, what social movement DON'T LP support? Another topic, another post.

BUT no friends, no, we're talking the original (ha!) renegades themselves, Rage Against the Machine. Realizing that Chris Cornell is, well, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello and Co. ditched the cock rock pleasantries, retrieved Zac Dela-whatever from the forest mud hut he was told to wait in until they got back from 'fixing the car', and made a B-Line for the summer festival circuit. Two headlining dates have been set on top of their Coachella appearance, and speculation knows no bounds when it comes to a... whisper it... new Rage album.

Now, Rage is considered THE legitimate protest band of the 90's, speaking for millions, and inspiring millions to speak. When they went away, there was a massive Iraq shaped void left to be filled by bands who seemed to lack the authenticity, sincerity of conviction, and, let's face it, sheer talent to articulate youth aggression and protest quite like Rage did - Please sit down Billie Joe, everyone knows you tried your best...

Well, 7 years, two towers, two phony elections, and a crater that used to be a country later, the new millennium is being graced by the band's presence once again...

... Does anyone else feel kind of embarrassed? I get the distinct feeling like they're the parents coming back from vacation and we're the good-intended teens who had a few friends over whose older, richer, and drunker friends ended up trashing the house. I can picture it now: we're standing in the front lobby, desperately trying to frebreeze the patriot act out of the constitution as the door nob is slowly turning. And of course we're sweating uncontrollably because we know that on the other side of that pretty white suburban door awaits a very public, very catchy scolding.

Really though, we have to admit the place is kind of a mess. And the general assumption about Rage coming back is that they are now going to provide for us a flash point from which change can once again occur in the face of corrupt governance. The sentimentalist in all of us imagines a conversation where the band members sat down at their Justice League-esque table, realized the world needed them, and slipped on their power rings once more to finally rid the world of evil. It's exactly like Disney's The Incredibles. Except instead of spandex stretching over newly developed guts, we've got a white rapper from the 90's trying on new lyrical topics like blogging, Connie Rice, and Seagway's (note: not actual new lyrics from Zac... but a boy can dream).

Whether it is true or not, whether the band saw a need for themselves and decided to act, matters little. The point is: they're back, and they're important. This ain't no regular comeback, folks because unlike other bands whose only importance ever was to produce good tunes (here's looking at you, Smashing Pumpkins), Rage Against the Machine's legacy was beyond their music. They bring with them a gathering point from which angry youth and passionate protesters find strength.

Unfortunately, Tom Morello doesn't seem to understand this. In a recent Spin magazine interview, he said that he realizes people are trying to make the connection between the world being in a such a bad way right now and Rage coming back to make it right, but he doesn't think that way. They're back to make music and while they definitely wish to inspire change, the political climate now had no barring on them getting back together. Modesty is fine, Tom. No one likes a self-important asshole (again, here's looking at you Smashing Pumpkins). But what bothers me here is that Rage do not seem to understand their own importance. There are few, if any, bands in their position, and once, just ONCE, I'd like to see something happen because the stars aligned and someone seized the moment. Like I said, whether we or they like it, they're are an important band, and now that they're back, someone should remind them that it's Rage Against the Machine, not simply Mehh Against the Machine.

... man... that was bad even for me. ah well.


The Senator said...

The last thing I recall hearing about Rage pre-breakup/hiatus/whatever was them playing at some Presidential rally... I don't think it was for Gore, but in the clusterfuck/recount that followed they seemed to kinda fade out of sight. I know the guys in that band are much stronger in their political convictions than myself, but I would feel a bit of futility at that point in time. It's like that particular counterculture movement was meeting with much more resistance by the religious-right in the USA than ever before...

So maybe it was time for a break. Maybe (hopefully) they realize that things aren't going to just get better, and that this is the perfect time for them to come back.

Also: I contest the notion that the Pumpkins are "reuniting" at all... Chamberlain played with Billy Corgan on everything since the breakup, and adding Melissa Auf Der Mar to a Billy Corgan solo album does NOT constitute a "reunion."

I look forward to the album all the same (regardless of the awful album cover).

Anonymous said...

Yes! Yes Yes Yes! What a pissant album cover for Zeitgeist! Hell, I'll take the Teletubby inspired Zwan album art over this any day.

I was thinking about it more though, and you're right. A band cannot simply make things better. It don't work like that because, well, what is "better" in the first place? After watching parts of the, and I'll borrow you're word, "clusterfuck" of a Republican Presidential candidate debate, I heard some very interesting visions for what "better" would be.

Hell, I'm just a sucker for 60's.