Article by Lindsey Parker, via Yahoo Music
Ever since his days with Rage Against the Machine, who were just nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, guitarist Tom Morello has mixed the political and the personal like few other modern-day rockers. “I believe I was probably meant to be an activist guitar player,” he jokes. It’s a mindset he has carried into projects like Axis of Justice (the nonprofit organization he co-founded with System of a Down’s Serj Tankian), Prophets of Rage (his supergroup with Public Enemy’s Chuck D and D-Lord, Cypress Hill’s B-Real, and RATM’s Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk), and his ferocious debut solo album, The Atlas Underground.
And all along, Morello has faced detractors who think musicians should stay out of politics. “Yeah, it’s the old ‘Shut up and play guitar’ argument,” Morello shrugs. “The people who make that argument, 100 percent of them disagree with your politics. They don’t want to be bothered by what it is that you think and who you are as a person. My take is very, very simple: When you pick up a guitar, you do not put down your First Amendment rights. Whatever your vocation … I don’t think you should leave your intrinsic self. You shouldn’t leave your convictions behind in your vocation. If that upsets people, well, if you’re making music that everyone can agree on, then you’re probably making pretty s***ty music. That would be the way I look at it.”
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