A surprise invitation from Trent Reznor resulted in Street Sweeper Social Club -- the new group formed by Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, the Nightwatchman) and the Coup's Boots Riley -- getting an earlier than expected public airing.
"We were finishing mixing our record when Trent called up and said, 'Hey, want to do the (Nine Inch Nails/Jane's Addiction) tour?'," Morello tells Billboard.com. "So all of a sudden the leisurely mixing process became, 'We gotta get this out right now! We've got to start rehearsing for the tour tomorrow!'"
There are no regrets, however. "Both bands are friends from back in the day," Morello says, "so there's a very good, family kind of vibe. (Reznor) has been a great host on the tour" -- and also joined Morello, Riley and company on stage for a recent rendition of the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams."
Street Sweeper Social Club started in 2007, after Morello and Riley played "innumerable" shows together, including benefits and Nightwatchman tours that featured Riley as the opening act.
"When Audioslave broke up, we had dinner and I made him an offer he couldn't refuse," Morello recalls. "I told him, 'We're in a band. It's called Street Sweeper Social Club. It's revolutionary party jams.' Then I handed him a cassette tape of 24 song ideas and said 'Write to this.' He was given no choice in the matter -- and to date, he hasn't said 'yes.' But it's been going very well."
The "Street Sweeper Social Scene" album, which comes out June 16, features 11 songs with a predictable socio-political bent, a rap and rock mix that's closer to Rage Against the Machine than Audioslave. The difference, Morello says, is that "Boots' storytelling relies a lot on humor and satire. One of my main jobs as a producer was to really present his lyrical vision in a way that people really see how great this guy is. I think they'll be blown away."
Galactic's Stanton Moore played drums on the album, while a trio of musicians -- Tony Award-nominated David Gibbs ("Rock of Ages") on guitar, bassist Carl Restivo (Satellite Party, Freedom Fighter Orchestra) and drummer Eric Gardner (drums) -- is part of the band for live shows. Morello says the group is planning a late summer/fall headlining tour of North America and possible some European summer shows.
Morello adds that the Coup and his work as the Nightwatchman and with Rage Against the Machine will continue alongside Street Sweeper Social Club.