Tom Morello on new single with his son "Soldier in the Army of Love," the last time he saw Chris Cornell & beating Simon Cowell in the charts | Interview

Published 4 weeks ago on June 21, 2024

By Jonathan Graham

Tom Morello on new single with his son "Soldier in the Army of Love," the last time he saw Chris Cornell & beating Simon Cowell in the charts | Interview

Guitar legend Tom Morello — known for his revolutionary work with Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave — is set to blaze new trails in the rock world with his upcoming debut solo release. In this exclusive interview at Download 2024, Morello shared exciting details about his upcoming single, "Soldier in the Army of Love" (set to release on June 28th), not only marking a significant moment in Morello's solo career but also highlighting his role as a proud father collaborating with his talented 13-year-old son, Roman. The legendary guitarist sat down with Jonathan Graham to discuss the new project, memories of Rage's epic headlining Download set, kicking out Simon Cowell and the X Factor, the last time he saw Chris Cornell and more.

Tom Morello's illustrious career has been packed with explosive highs and deeply personal moments, and his latest venture is no exception. The project, a collaboration with his 13-year-old son Roman, promises to be one of the most note-filled songs Morello has released in recent years. In response to who was dishing out the killer licks in the 3-minute song's solo section, Morello, with characteristic humility, shared, "Oh man, I wish I could say it was me. That's my 13-year-old guitar prodigy. During lockdown, when everybody else was baking bread, he was putting in his eight hours a day."

The song, "Soldier in the Army of Love," is a testament to Roman's burgeoning talent and Morello's guiding hand. "One day, I was walking by his bedroom, and he was playing these awesome drop D heavy riffs," Morello recounted with a father's pride. "I'm like, 'What is that?' And he's like, 'I just came up with them.' So, we did this song. He wrote the riffs; I produced it and kind of play on it. But the guitar solo is him as well." With Father's Day around the corner when the chat took place, Morello couldn't hide his joy: "I'm very, very proud to be making probably the heaviest song I've released in some time with my 13-year-old."

This new single is more than just a family affair; it's also a precursor to Morello's upcoming solo rock album. While he has experimented with various genres—ranging from electronic collaborations to folk music—this record marks a return to his rock roots. "On the one hand, it's going to lean very heavy into the Morellian riffs of Rage and Audioslave ilk," Morello explained, "but there's also like a darkness on the edge of town component to it as well." Fans can expect a mix of heavy, riff-driven tracks and introspective tunes, with the first single already making waves in live performances. "We opened the set with it every night. It's just been crushing," he said.

Morello's career to date is a rich tapestry of musical innovation and political activism. Rage Against the Machine, formed in the early 1990s, was a band like no other. Their fusion of metal, punk, and hip-hop, combined with fiercely political lyrics, set them apart in a music industry dominated by more conventional acts. Morello's distinctive guitar style—characterized by innovative use of feedback, alternate tunings, and effects — became a defining feature of the band's sound. Songs like "Killing in the Name" and "Bulls on Parade" are anthems of rebellion and defiance, capturing the spirit of a generation disillusioned with the status quo.

Notably, In 2009, the band's 1992 anthem "Killing in the Name" reached the number one spot on the UK Christmas singles chart, a feat fueled by a grassroots campaign to prevent another manufactured pop song from winning the coveted position. This victory culminated in an electrifying free concert at Finsbury Park in June 2010, where 90,000 fans gathered to celebrate this "people power" triumph. "It was one of the highlights in the history of rock and roll," Morello reminisced, "The people kicked out Simon Cowell and the X Factor, put in a 17-year-old song with 16 'fuck you's' and one 'motherfucker' as the number one song in the country for the Christmas single."

The band's performance at the Download Festival in 2010 further cemented their legacy, headlining the event with a blistering set that showcased their explosive energy and unwavering message. These moments are etched in the annals of rock history, exemplifying the band and Morello's impact on the genre.

When Rage Against the Machine disbanded for the first time in 2000, Morello continued to push musical boundaries with Audioslave, a supergroup formed with Soundgarden's Chris Cornell and Rage's rhythm section, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk. Audioslave's blend of hard rock and soulful melodies won critical acclaim, producing hits like "Like a Stone" and "Show Me How to Live."

In early 2017, the band briefly reunited, rekindling the chemistry that had made them a powerhouse. "We played together twice in the last year of his life," Morello recalled of his time with Cornell and possibity of a more permanent reunion. "We talked about it. The last time we saw each other, we were like, 'We should do this more often.'" Tragically, Cornell passed away later that year, but the brief reunion remains a poignant reminder of the musical magic they created together.

"I miss him terribly," Morello added. "We were bandmates, but I never stopped being a fan. We always pay homage to Chris in every show."

Beyond his band work, Morello's solo projects have showcased his versatility. His collaborations range from folk music, which aligns with his admiration for Woody Guthrie, to electronic and alternative rock. This eclecticism has earned him recognition, including the prestigious Woody Guthrie Prize in 2024. "I really admire Woody Guthrie as an artist, and that genre of political folk music is very much in my blood," he said.

Recently, Morello has also worked with Def Leppard, contributing a solo to their new track "Just Like 73." "I played Rock of Ages in my college cover band," he reminisced. "One day, Def Leppard rings up and goes, 'Do you want to play a solo on our new song?' I'm like, hell yeah!"

As Morello looks forward to his new tour dates and the release of his debut solo album, he remains a figure of inspiration, both for his groundbreaking music and his unwavering commitment to authenticity. Reflecting on his journey, he shared a crucial lesson: "Rather than being a musician, I concentrated on being an artist. Rather than trying to become famous, I made music that was completely authentic." This ethos, rooted in integrity and passion, clearly continues to drive him.

In a world where the music industry often prioritizes commercial success over artistic integrity, Tom Morello stands as a beacon of what it means to stay true to one's roots, rocking stages worldwide and constantly evolving yet never compromising. As he puts it, "At the end of the day, whether you're playing in basements or whether you're playing in stadiums, if you make music you love that is true to yourself, you're a success."

"Soldier in the Army of Love" is set to release on June 28th, however, is available for pre-save now: https://stem.ffm.to/soldierinthearmyoflove"


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