Though it has the formidable catalogs of three bands to draw from, the newly unveiled Prophets of Rage isn’t wasting any time forging material of its own.
Guitarist Tom Morello tells Billboard that Prophets — which also includes Rage Against the Machine bandmates Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk, Cypress Hill MC B Real and Public Enemy‘s Chuck D and DJ Lord — will hit the studio Tuesday to record a studio version of “The Party’s Over,” which the group premiered at its recent live shows. The goal is to have the song finished and out before Prophets play at and around the Republican National Convention on July 19 in Cleveland. And Morello promises there will be more where that came from.
“Yeah, there’s other stuff bubbling,” he says. “But no one’s quit their day jobs. Public Enemy is on tour right now. Cypress Hill is on tour right now. Timmy’s WAKRAT band is rehearsing. I’m working on a new record. So we had this kind of initial fireball of activity, and now we’re doing some recording and we’re gearing up for our summer tour.”
The Prophets campaign was, of course, spurred by this year’s heated presidential campaign — and by media characterizations that both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were raging against the machine. “I was like, ‘We’ll show you what it really means to rage against the machine,'” Morello notes. But putting out a new song will also establish the band beyond its political hook.
“The goal is a simple one: The music has to be devastating,” Morello explains. “In all these interviews we talk a lot about the politics, but the cornerstone is that the music has to be devastating and we have to not just be competitive with our legacies, but in 2016, it has to be something that goes beyond that and is very authentic, unapologetic and contemporary.”
Getting there has not been easy, however. “When we got in the room, it was like, ‘Well, hold on, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We have to figure out what this band’s chemistry is to be great. How do we win with this team on the field?’ And that took awhile to figure out,” Morello recalls. “I would say that it really came together a couple days before the Whisky show [May 31], where it was like, ‘Oh, sh–, that’s what Prophets of Rage is going to sound like!’ And it’s still a process. I always look at it like it’s never done and will continue to be refined as we go along.”
Prophets will play a benefit show in Los Angeles before the RNC gig, whose details are still being ironed out. The group’s Make America Rage Again tour begins in earnest on Aug. 19 in Fairfax, Virginia, but will not hit the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia due to scheduling issues. And the rest of the world will be getting its taste of Rage too.
“We’ll rock furiously around the globe, but we’ve got to take care of our own backyard first,” Morello says. “We’re gonna be competing with the other campaigns around the country with an alternative voice and message. The last time Rage Against the Machine played in Los Angeles [July 30, 2011] we outdrew Trump, Clinton and Sanders by three-to-one, so I believe the general electorate is ready for our message: ‘F— you. I won’t do what you tell me.'”