Dan from "Mike James Rock Show" conducted an interview with RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, PROPHETS OF RAGE and AUDIOSLAVE guitarist Tom Morello prior to his June 5 concert at Ashton Gate in Bristol, England, United Kingdom, in support of MUSE. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On being able to write what he wants as a solo artist:
Tom: "This entire project, 'The Atlas Underground' project, has been a sonic conspiracy. Bringing together like-minded musicians of different genres and trying to forge a genre of music that seems fresh to me, combining the Marshall stack, power and riffage that I'm known for, with some huge bass drops. Gary Clark Jr., I'm a huge fan of his. We just spent about three hours jamming one night in my studio and I took that three hours, I boiled it down to this four-minute song with chromatic production. It's been really fun to play, too. These songs are awesome. Opening for MUSE, the audience has been pretty great."
On opening for MUSE:
Tom: "I've been a fan of theirs for a very, very long time and they've opened up for RAGE a few times in the past, so we have a very long history. The fact in 2019 that there's a rock band like MUSE with an electric guitar player, playing stadiums, that in of itself, I'm happy to see that. This record is kind of like a trojan horse in a way to inflict my guitar vision on a new generation by working with everybody from Marcus Mumford, to BASSNECTAR, to Killer Mike, Big Boi, from Steve Aoki, to PHANTOGRAM, having this kind of sonic imprint of 2019, but with the unapologetic guitar playing that I've been doing for my entire career."
On how long "The Atlas Underground" idea has been brewing:
Tom: "I've been working on it for a while and I'm actually working on the sister record now because I really like the idea of these — when you're in a band, it's great because of chemistry. Together you create something you couldn't create alone. When it's a solo artist, it's great because of a purity of vision. I try to have the best of both worlds on this record, where I'm curating the record and the sonic thrust of it is my idea, the lyrical thread that runs through it is, is my idea, but each individual song is a collaborative record. When I sat down with Marcus or Gary Clark, I didn't know what was going to come of that session and it became something that I could not have done on my own, yet it's under this umbrella of a north star that's guiding the whole thing, so it's really fun."
On getting his collaborators out of their respective comfort zones and trying to replicate the record live:
Tom: "Everybody is outside of their comfort zones for this. It's really great. The only litmus test for these songs, at the end of the day, do the collaborating artist love what we did? It's been wonderful, but the challenge, then, I've made a record with 20 collaborators and I'm touring with none of them. You'll soon find out. We spent a lot of time. I'm a great over-thinker when it comes to these things. I worked with Sean Evans, who was the artistic director for the last two Roger Waters tours. He did 'The Wall' tour and 'Us And Them'. We've created the show you'll see tonight. The idea was how do we create a moving, compelling rock and roll [show]? My thought was, what is punk in 2019? It's not four guys on a stage spitting on one another. I don't think it's that. It's a show that's incredibly politically provocative. In the visuals, it's also kind of a joyful celebration of my history."
On doing shows where he's not in the headline spot like he was with RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE and AUDIOSLAVE:
Tom: "I've had a lot of experience with that, with RAGE and AUDIOSLAVE — that's been the headline stuff for a while. I've made four solo records of acoustic music. From playing open mic nights to playing small clubs. I was born to be a musician. I'm out there trying to save souls, whether it's one stadium or one club at a time. [Laughs]"
"The Atlas Underground" was released last year. The disc finds the guitarist collaborating with artists like PORTUGAL. THE MAN, Whethan, Marcus Mumford, Vic Mensa, Big Boi and GZA as well as EDM acts like BASSNECTAR, KNIFE PARTY and Steve Aoki.