Prophets of Rage Interview

We were overcome with joy when we first got wind of a super-group named ‘Prophets of Rage’ being formed by members of three bands we adore: Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy, and Cypress Hill. Once we learned what direction Prophets of Rage would be taking, and that it would include original music and a tour, we were beside ourselves. Before Prophets of Rage hit the Philly area on August 20th as part of their ‘Make America Rage Again’ tour, we had a chat with drummer Brad Wilk to discuss the origins of the group, some infamous Rage Against The Machine shows from years past in Philly, Zack De La Rocha, Diabetes, and a slew of other topics. Enjoy!

Independent Philly: How did the ‘Prophets of Rage’ collaboration come to life?

Brad Wilk: I had gotten a call from Tom [Commerford] a few months back and he had been talking with Chuck D and asked if I wanted to get into a room and play some music. The timing of it seemed right and we got in a room and we played together with Chuck D, and it felt really good but we all kind of busy doing other things. A few of us went away for a little bit but in the end we came back and reconvened and after a few rehearsals, B-Real’s name came into the mix and we thought it would be great to see what that chemistry was, to put two people of this stature together with me, and Tim, and Tom, and DJ Lord as well. From the first rehearsal with all of us together there seemed to be a really great chemistry and it all just kicked off from there. The timing couldn’t have been better; there are a lot of disenfranchised people in the world right now. It just seemed like the right move for us.

Independent Philly: We know ‘Prophets of Rage’ is the title of a Public Enemy song but how did you all settle on that as the name for the group?

Brad Wilk: I believe Chuck D brought it up and it just seemed really fitting. Aside from writing new music, we are playing songs from ‘Cypress Hill’, ‘Rage Against the Machine’, and ‘Public Enemy’, and the name just seemed really fitting.

Independent Philly: Was there ever any mention of getting Zack [De La Rocha] involved with Prophets of Rage along with you, Tim, and Tom?

Brad Wilk: At the time that Tom called me, Zach was busy with his own thing and I don’t think had any interest in doing anything with us at that time because he is working on a solo record and also has ‘One Day as A Lion’ as well. The timing just wasn’t right. The door on this project is always open for Zack to come into this. Definitely a lot of people might think that this is some sort of Rage Against The Machine run-off but that isn’t the case at all, Zack could never be replaced. This is something completely different but again, the door is always open for Zack.

Independent Philly: What can we expect from Prophets of Rage musically, a lot of new music or mostly just new twists on old classics [from the three original groups involved]?

Brad Wilk: We have written four or five new songs already. We went into the studio a few months ago and recorded some new tracks so we are actually very excited to play new material as well. I think a key element of this band is to do something with the new music.

Independent Philly: I’ve had a chance to see Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, and Rage Against The Machine all perform live before but what can be expected from a live Prophets of Rage performance?

Brad Wilk: We play music from all three of our catalogs, all three have large histories. Public Enemy was one of the first bands who ever took Rage Against The Machine under their wing, and we were playing shows with them even before our first record came out. The same with Cypress Hill, who I think our second ever U.S. tour was in support of Cypress Hill. We have spent a lot of time with both of these bands so it feels comfortable playing these songs. When we [RATM] were just getting together we would be listening to a ton of Cypress Hill and Public Enemy so if it wasn’t for them, who knows what Rage Against The Machine would sound like. They were such an integral part of our womb so it just feels right to be doing a project with both of these bands. We are not putting any limits onto what we are going to do. So, I guess it’s an ever growing band, and it’s a new band so we are all just really excited to do things to keep it fresh and to keep our live shows interesting and exciting.

Independent Philly: You guys kicked off your tour in Cleveland to coincide with the RNC Convention. What message are you hoping to convey to Americans about the current state of politics heading into November’s election?

Brad Wilk: I think that again, we have a lot of people who feels disillusioned and disenfranchised with the system that is in place right now. We basically have these puppets, candidates, running for office but it’s really big businesses that run this country and I think people want change and are looking for change. The only real way that is going to come about is to be engaged in that yourself and if nothing more, if we become a spark plug or a spark to having people think differently and realize that they really do have power, and power in numbers, that we have started that process of thinking for yourself and wanting to change and taking that change into your own hands.

Independent Philly: You guys are coming into our area to play a show on August 20th at BB&T Pavilion. Do you have a favorite memory from a past show in Philly?

Brad Wilk: Funny enough, I do. I don’t know if it’s a favorite memory, but there is a club there called Dobbs, and we were playing there in support of our first record. It was the middle of the Winter and I remember playing a show, and we were playing ‘Bullet in the Head’ and at the very end it has this crazy snare drum roll and at the very end of the song I ripped all the muscles in my chest all the way into my back and my whole body went numb. After that show we had to stop touring for a few weeks. I just remember being so motivated by the crowd in Philadelphia. Also, Philadelphia was a place at Lollapalooza where we didn’t play a note and wound up just making a protest against the ‘PMRC’. We came out with “PMRC” written on our chests and wearing nothing and having nothing but feedback playing. I remember it was really just to challenge people and make people think and I remember we came back a couple of months later and played a free show in Philadelphia. Philadelphia is definitely steeped in some memorable times in our history.

Independent Philly: I was actually at that Lollapalooza show and the free make up show and remember them both well. On a personal note, I know you are a Type-1 Diabetic (as am I) and when I was diagnosed as a child it was a little traumatic for me. What advice would you have for a kid who has been recently diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes?

Brad Wilk: It’s interesting that you bring that up because I was actually up until 4:30 AM last night dealing with a Diabetic complication. I had actually the wrong medication so I was up all night dealing with that and having to make sure I had enough sugar in my blood. I would say that as hard as it can be, I don’t let Diabetes rule my life. It is something that you can mostly keep under control if you watch yourself. There is constantly new technology out there that makes it easier for Diabetics and new medications because the pharmaceutical companies are really powerful and they aren’t into finding cures, more into keeping us on medications. Unfortunately it’s a necessary evil for us. I just think that it’s not something that should rule your life and shouldn’t keep you away from doing the things that you want to do. Just live your life how you want to live it, keep yourself in good health, and learn all about the types of food that you ingest into your body and how they affect blood sugars. Our diet, as well as exercise, are really important. It’s just important to stay on top of It and don’t let it rule your life.

We can’t wait for the Prophets of Rage show this upcoming Saturday at BB&T Pavilion! If you know what’s good for you, buy a ticket and join us for a magical night of music and making American rage again!

[Interview by David Miller]

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