Rage Against the Machine bassist, former Audioslave member and Wakrat co-founder Tim Commerford has already sounded off on Limp Bizkit and other rap-rock bands that came in the wake of the group’s massive success. But in a wide-ranging talk with Rolling Stone, the opinionated musician opened up about the status of RATM, the band’s Hall of Fame chances and Zack de la Rocha’s latest musical endeavor.
At 47, the self-described “conspiracy theorist” still adheres to the “question everything” motto that defined so much of Rage Against the Machine’s ethos. “I can’t stop myself from finding information that makes me mad and writing about it,” Commerford says. It’s this mindset that informs the bassist’s non-traditional views, which include notions of staged moon landings and ISIS not really existing. “You don’t really want to get me started on this,” Commerford says about his conspiracy theorist leanings. We disagree.
It’s been 15 years since Rage Against the Machine released their last album. Do you think rock music is in a better or worse spot now compared to 2000?
We’re definitely not in the same spot now; there’s not a lot going on in the world of rock, and that’s a shame. I credit that to the computer. There’s a lot of computer rock happening right now. It’s an instrument that you don’t need to go woodshed in your bedroom to learn how to play. You can not know anything about music and play that thing awesome.
I hear music that’s gridded out in a perfect way, and I think kids don’t realize that that’s what they expect, whether they know it or not. They expect to get this perfect syncopated rhythm, where every snare drum is exactly the same distance apart. Humans can’t do that. I’m a fan of “real” music — I love the whole grunge scene and rock music in the Sixties through the Nineties — and it’s real; it’s guys and girls who spent time learning how to play their instrument and making it sound badass.
“[Rage] are still a band. We might play again.”
What do you consider “unreal” music?
I don’t necessarily consider it “unreal,” but it’s subjective whether or not the computer is an instrument. I can look at the computer and say, “Yeah, it’s an instrument. If it weren’t for the computer, there wouldn’t be hip-hop or electronic music. It’s making some amazing shit, and it can sound amazing.” And I respect that. But I’m a believer in John Coltrane and Jimi Hendrix. That, to me, is real music. Guys who took their instrument to a place where no other human has ever taken it.
Rage Against the Machine is approaching their first year of eligibility for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Do you care?
It would be funny to me if we got in there. I don’t know that I would go because I look at that as, if you take part in that, you’re admitting that you’re no longer relevant. You’re saying, “OK, I’m done. Look, I made it.”