Tom Morello Talks New Rage Against The Machine Box Set, And How Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell Almost Sang on “Know Your Enemy”
In an exclusive interview regarding the 20th anniversary reissue of Rage Against The Machine’s eponymous 1992 debut album, the band’s guitarist Tom Morello talked about how it was Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction who was originally supposed to sing on the song “Know Your Enemy” back in the day.
“This was really something we wanted to do as a thank you to our fans globally,” Morello stressed to KROQ DJ Stryker during the on-air interview about the debut album reissue. “It is a mother lode of Rage stuff in there.
“Some of my favorite stuff is the (band’s) first ever public performance was filmed and recorded at Cal State Northridge, that’s in there in its entirety,” Morello continued. “The original demos that the band played, and the Finsbury Park, which is in London, victory concert when we had a Number One song. It was a Facebook campaign to oust the X Factor pop single from the top of the charts. We played a free show for about 80,000 people, and it’s really one of the most exciting rock things you’re ever going to see. Those are just some of the highlights.”
When asked about his personal expectations for the album upon its release in November of 1992, Morello admits the band didn’t exactly plan to become rock heroes so quickly, let alone at all.
“Our expectations, let me tell you, were pretty tempered,” he explained. “When we formed the band, we really didn’t think we would be able to book a club gig. Now everybody’s got Lil Wayne and Sepultura in their iPod, but then they were like…rock and rap and punk were warring tribes. The fact that we were kind of mashing that all together, and then the multi-ethnic quality of the band, and the politics of it…there was just nothing like that on the radio.
“We didn’t expect much,” Morello added, laughing. “We’d been very encouraged early on by the shows we’d been playing around town, and the electric nature of those shows and how quickly people caught on to the band. So I guess in the back of our minds there might have been some hope that we were going to catch on. But we really didn’t have hopes beyond the fact we loved playing those songs.”
Morello also related behind-the-scenes stories regarding the song “Know Your Enemy,” a long-time fan favorite, especially in concert.
“The ‘Know Your Enemy’ riff was one that I kind of had for a while, but it really came together when all four of us, you know, the band’s chemistry rocked it furiously,” he said. “Maynard Keenan (of the band Tool) is the guest vocalist on the song during the bridge, but the original person who was supposed to sing it was Perry Farrell (of Jane’s Addiction).
“We couldn’t find Perry the day we were recording,” Morello chuckled, “so we called up our bro Maynard and he came down and just slayed it. Stephen Perkins from Jane’s Addiction also played a percussion part. He’s actually playing drumsticks on a pad of paper in the bridge of that song as well.”
Morello went on to discuss the effects of “Know Your Enemy” when performed live, calling it akin to “pouring sugar on the anthill of the crowd when you play that jam. It has always caused quite a ruckus. It’s one of my favorite jams that we’ve ever played.”
The XX 20th Anniversary Edition of the band’s debut album is now available in three different formats, including a Deluxe Box Set that includes such extras as a vinyl LP, 40-page booklet and double-sided poster.
–Scott T. Sterling, CBS Local