Tom Morello is perhaps best known as the guitarist for rock bands Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, but the politically minded L.A. transplant has recorded as the Nightwatchman and has just created another band, Street Sweeper. His West Coast "Justice Tour," which benefits regional nonprofit PATH (People Assisting the Homeless), stops at the Music Box @ the Fonda on Saturday.
You went to Libertyville High School in the northern Chicago suburbs. How did you like it?
On the one hand, it was a lovely, bucolic suburb with plenty of grassy fields to run around and play football in. On the other hand, one morning there was a noose in my family's garage. A mixed bag.
That leaves an impression.
It certainly does. And you wonder why the music's loud.
I'm impressed with your recession-level ticket prices -- $15! -- of your West Coast tour.
We try to keep the tickets for the "Justice Tour" to the people's price. This tour grew out of shows I hosted at the Hotel Café over the last few years. They're shows that are completely outside of the mainstream of how business is usually done in the music industry. I text the artists on my BlackBerry and ask them to play. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to homeless advocacy. The artists not only perform at the shows but are invited to participate at the homeless shelters as well.
It's very exciting that Slash is coming out for the L.A. date.
Slash has often played at these benefit shows. He's been a great supporter of the gigs I've put on. The whole underpinning notion of this is to bail out people, not banks. You've got these robber barons on Wall Street somehow profiting from destroying the economic infrastructure of the country and plunging so many people into poverty. And it's time to fight back.
They're saying we need a third bailout now.
It does appear to be the greatest crime -- certainly the greatest financial crime -- in history. So there's a two-pronged attack: one is we rock seriously at these shows and help some people. And second, we head to Wall Street with pitchforks and torches.
Have you been to New York in the last six months? The robber barons are still in place, but all the junior robber barons have been kicked to the curb.
I haven't. Well, this doesn't mean the captain's going to give up the thread count in his private suites. But it does mean his servants may go without.
Where do you get your news?
I read the New York Times every day. Then there's some great online sources. I have a nonprofit organization called Axis of Justice. We have our own alternative news service.
Not on a daily basis. I'll check the sports ticker on ESPN.
Is it hard being anti-corporate and a sports fan?
Oh, the various contradictions rest pretty easily in me.
THE SUNDAY CONVERSATION
Tom Morello: Rocker with a conscience
The musical reach of Morello, guitarist for Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave and now fronting a band called Street Sweeper, is matched only by his political activism.
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