World activity in recent weeks has proven resistance and activism are far from dead. For each unjust, backwards-thinking, and discriminatory act, there has been an incredible amount of social response and solidarity to counteract all this negativity. As disillusioned as we might be with the state of humanity, we’ve also found that there are plenty who are willing to stand up and speak against this crushing wave of confounding rhetoric.
But all protests come with a killer soundtrack, and this movement is no different.
In an interview with Cultura Colectiva, Tom Morello spoke about his current band, Prophets of Rage, as well as their upcoming presentation at the Vive Latino Festival in Mexico City. Due to both Morello, as well as fellow band members who come from musical institutions such as Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy, and Cypress Hill, we couldn’t help but also ask him about his views on the importance of music as a form of protest.
CC: When Rage Against the Machine visited Mexico in 1999, the country was going through a difficult moment in general. You declared yourself in favor of the Zapatista movement. Now that you’re visiting Mexico during another critical moment, what are your feelings on the current situation?
TM: We are eager to play in Mexico City and express our solidarity with the Mexican people against the Trump regime. Our music from Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy, and Cypress Hill has always been in favor of human rights, against racism and discrimination. We are opposed to the wall, which is insulting. We’re opposed to the deportations that he has promised, and we look forward to expressing those feelings while playing a great rock and hip-hop show.
CC: Do you believe music can bring about social change?
TM: Music can both reflect the times and change the times. I know music has changed me. It’s impossible to have a successful social movement without a great soundtrack. Prophets of Rage hopes to be the soundtrack for the resistance to the Trump regime.
CC: When you think about social justice, what does that mean to you?
TM: A planet where no one is homeless, where no one is hungry, where every child gets an education and a chance, where people do not have to be fearful of violence from their government or from others. It means a political, economic, and social equality. Where we share a planet. Where we keep that planet healthy. That’s for starters.
CC: What feeling do you get when you hear the name Donald Trump?
TM: Donald Trump is certainly a villainous character whose crimes against freedom and decency are growing every day. It is our responsibility as US citizens to attempt to defy him, defeat him, and dethrone him. But we can use your help and your government’s help at blocking his initiatives around the world.
CC: Do you believe that if Hillary Clinton had won she would’ve brought change or unity within the country?
TM: Unlikely. I think one of the big problems we have in the United States is that there is no party that truly represents the people. And this movement that is arising in the wake of Donald Trump’s crimes does not have a political party that represents it. It’s going to be up to us to forge a movement across borders, with the people of Mexico, with the people of Canada, who together can figure out a more just and humane planet.
CC: With everything that’s been going on with protests and the women’s march, an article about different songs of protest was posted. Both “Killing in The Name Of” and “Fight the Power” were on the list. What are your thoughts on how music can transcend to become a call to action?
TM: Before there was spoken language, there was musical language. It’s something that is deep in the DNA of human beings. The idea of gathering in a tribal setting to listen to rhythm and rhyme is something that goes back thousands of years. When you get the right combination of beats, a song, and some words, that really feels like the truth. I’m all for songs about girls, cars, and things like that. But it’s an important part of human experience, the resistance to oppression, and that needs to be represented in music as well.
CC: How is the recording process going? Is there a Prophets of Rage record coming soon?
TM: We’re actually in the studio right now recording a Prophets of Rage record.
CC: How you feel when you’re on stage?
TM: There’s nothing that compares to playing your songs on stage for an appreciative audience. Especially when there’s that kind of musical and ideological connection, where it’s more than a rock and roll show where the audience is seeping praise on their idols. That’s not what our shows are about. Our shows are about solidarity with the audience and a communal experience of celebrating resistance and rock and roll.
CC: Do you have any thoughts or suggestions on how the world population can begin to be in more solidarity with each other, in order to improve the situation?
TM: People everywhere have endless amounts of creativity and intellect, and strength that it would be part of an ongoing struggle for human liberation, justice, and freedom. Your country has a long history that’s been inspiring to us. Like the struggle of the recognition for the 43. Everybody needs to stand up during their place and their time for what’s right. That’s what we’re trying to do in the US against Donald Trump. You have your own struggles there. I think we should support each other.
The resistance now has a sound and a mission. It's up to all of us to fight for what we believe in and for others who are not able to speak out on the injustices being committed. Are you in?