If everything goes according to plan, July’s L.A. Rising festival will be “kind of a Rage Against the Machine re-education camp,” according to guitarist Tom Morello.
“This festival is going to be different from Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza,” Morello tells Billboard.com about the day-long show, which takes place July 30 at the Los Angeles Coliseum and also features Muse, Rise Against, Lauryn Hill, Immortal Technique and El Gran Silencio. “This is a festival that is run by Rage Against the Machine, and it’s going to reflect that.
“Normally there’s this kind of rag-tag of hemp booths and Patchouli distributors that sort of circle a festival. This is going to be nothing like that. There are going to be our causes and activist organizations and charities that we endorse, presented in a different way.”
L.A. Rising is being co-produced by Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival founder Goldenvoice, which booked Rage at its initial Coachella in 1999 and hosted the band’s reunion in 2007.
Morello explains that Rage and Goldenvoice “wanted to build a bill that is as diverse as our city, from rock en español to hip-hop to bone-crushing, guitar-driven rock music.” He adds that, “Los Angeles has no festival to call its own. There are festivals in the outlying areas, but for some time we’ve talked about a Rage Against the Machine-run festival in our city. We finally found the right time, the right venue, the right slot.”
All of the acts will play full sets — “Muse will bring all their stadium shit,” Morello promises — and a million-watt sound system will make sure that “the last seat of the last row sounds just as great as if you’re in front of the stage. That’s really key.” Rage itself “hasn’t really gotten around to” thinking about its own performance, but Morello notes that it’s the group’s first large-venue show in its home town since 1999, while August marks the 20th anniversary of the quartet’s formation.
“So we are definitely gong to pull out all the stops,” he says. “We long ago realized in Rage that our stage show, or our ‘show,’ is the relationship we have with the audience. And when 60,000, 70,000 people see each other going apeshit, that’s more electrifying than all the fireworks and video screens you can put together.”
No determination has been made about filming or recording L.A. Rising yet. “The band doesn’t really have a manager or the normal sort of infrastructure that answers those important questions,” Morello says, “so I don’t know.”
Morello himself, meanwhile, has been busy this year in his role as the Nightwatchman, first releasing the digital “Union Town” benefit EP (which comes out July 19 on CD and vinyl) and releasing a new album, “World Wide Rebel Songs,” on Aug. 30. But he isn’t hazarding a guess about what more Rage will do in the near — or far — future.
“From the band’s inception, we’ve done things like we want to do them…not on anybody else’s timetable but our own,” he explains. “When we want to do a thing we will reach out and do it. That hasn’t changed.”
Tickets have been on sale for L.A. Rising since May 13. More information about the festival is available at Facebook.com/LArising.