Tom Morello on the Who: They Were a ‘Feral Rock Beast’
The Who are currently trekking across North America on their “The Who Hits 50!” tour, which Roger Daltrey has described as the beginning of the group’s “long goodbye.” The band has influenced countless musicians who have followed in its footsteps, including Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, who shares his love for the Who below.
In junior high, I made a mix-tape cassette entitled “The Greatest Songs of All Time.” The Who’s “My Generation” was definitely one of the 12. The punk attitude, the stuttering vocals – it felt like a meat cleaver of rebellious energy. The other songs on that cassette were mostly in the hard rock and metal vein. That was probably the only classic rock song, but it was a short, sharp shock of punk adrenaline. That early Who just felt like a train that was off the track – it was wild and there had been nothing like it before. When I heard Roger Daltrey’s stuttering, my first thought was: “How dare he!? This is awesome!”
Later, when I was 15, my mom and I went on a budget vacation in England. We saw The Kids Are All Right in the theater, and I got a grand exposure to their story and their live performance. They just looked like the coolest live band. The way they destroy the gear was so wild, so untethered, you didn’t know what was going to happen. Things were exploding and they’re throwing stuff and it really felt like it wasn’t in any way choreographed. It felt like this sort of feral rock beast.
Find out five things you didn’t know about the Who:
I learned a lot from Pete as a performer and copped a few of his stage moves. The first time I ever played in front of an audience was with my high school band, the Electric Sheep, with Adam Jones from Tool on bass. We played Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” for this school show about the Sixties. We came out. and we were not a great band, but the highlight of the entire evening was when I jumped off the riser. There was a lesson in there. Rock is about more than getting the notes right. I spent a lot of time in my mom’s basement practicing scales, thinking, “When I finally master the solo to ‘Detroit Rock City,’ then I am a rocker.” But the thing people remembered was that I jumped. That was rock & roll. And that was all that mattered.
The Hold Steady Are Ready to Spread Their 'Gospel' in New 20th Anniversary Book
- Rock and Roll Memories