We’ve heard plenty of stories about Rage Against The Machine’s early days before, including one about how Tool’s Maynard James Keenan was almost the group’s singer. But now, Rage Against The Machine bassist, Tim Commerford, has opened up about how he had to rage against the rest of the band to convince them to agree on the band name.
As Ultimate Guitar reports, Commerford recently spoke on the 2 Hours With Matt Pinfield podcast, in which he discussed the origins of the band, and just how they chose their name. “Zach [De La Rocha] and I were playing with another drummer. [Zach] was playing guitar, I was playing bass, and we wrote songs,” Commerford said.
“And then a buddy of mine was a drummer for Tom [Morello]’s band Lockup – this was another guy from Irvine, one of the only black kids that lived in Irvine, an incredible drummer, also a huge Rush fanatic,” he continued. “One day he told me, ‘You and Zach should hook up with this guy Tom Morello.’ And we did. And Tom had already hooked up with Brad Wilk, and Zach and I went down and we just started writing songs right away.”
“The name Rage Against The Machine… Zach was in a band called Inside Out, and they were gonna call their record Rage Against The Machine. They were an amazing band.”
“We decided to call the band Rage Against The Machine, and there was that moment in time where I was the only one that wanted that name. That is the sickest band name in the history of band names, and we need to name the band that,” he said. “Everyone else was sort of on the fence, but I just stuck to my guns on that, and it ended up being the name.”
“One funny thing happened, we went on tour in 1991 and we did a few shows with Public Enemy. They and Cypress Hill were the biggest influence on Zach. We were playing in San Luis Obispo, CA, and we were on the fence with the name Rage Against the Machine. We were opening up for the Public Enemy, and we were blown away. We were so intimidated by their vibe.”
“And we’re going on stage, we’re about to play, it was one of our first shows. And one of the guys from Public Enemy gets up on the mic to introduce us, and he says, ‘Here’s a great band, you guys are gonna dig them! They’re called Rage & The Machine!’
“And I was just pissed! I ran up on stage and grabbed the mic out of his hand, put aside all of my insecurities, and just went, ‘Rage Against The Machine!’,” he continued. “Said it as loud as you could say it. And then we played. And that’s been our name ever since. To this day I believe in that name being the greatest band name of all time.”
Sadly, since the band broke up in 2000, we’ve seen no new music from the group, but we were lucky enough to see them hit up our shores in 2008 when they visited as part of the Big Day Out.
While dedicated Aussie fans are still holding out for another Rage Against The Machine reunion tour, you can still experience most of the band playing with Public Enemy’s Chuck D, and Cypress Hill’s B-Real in Prophets Of Rage, who still embody the same political ideals mixed with the same level of crushing alternative metal that they were known for.
Check out Rage Against The Machine’s classic ‘Bulls On Parade’ (filmed at the Sydney Big Day Out in 1996), below.