[Update: 4:50 p.m.: A source close to the band tells Rolling Stone that Prophets of Rage is “not a Rage-specific reunion…There’s a lot more to it. There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of exciting news to be revealed.”
Apparently, the project will include “some of the members of Rage.” The source also confirms the project will include live shows. “Whether that’s one show, or five shows, I don’t know,” says the source. “There are more announcements to come.” Meanwhile, we wait…]
“Hey, do you know if Rage Against the Machine is reforming and playing sometime?” I got this text message last week from a Bay Area radical bookseller after wrapping up the second annual OC anarchist bookfair in Fullerton. Without any inside information, I shrugged off the possibility, chalking it up to a satirical music story saying Rage is reuniting to record an anti-Trump record. It made viral rounds on the interwebz without people reading the finer print of far-fetched song titles like, “There Ain’t No Spray Tan Here!”
“Ah okay, that must be it,” my friend replied. But is it? The Twitter page for Rage, ran by fans and blessed by the band, sent out a cryptic tweet yesterday morning. The rebel rap-rock group has been dormant since performing at the Coliseum for L.A. Rising on July 30, 2011, so few took notice to retweet the excitement. The post linked to a “Prophets of Rage” website with the hashtag #TakeThePowerBack. Mysterious posters of the same raised fist image got spotted the day before in Los Angeles fueling more speculation. What does any of it mean?
A countdown on the website ticks away until the start of June. New album? Protest performances at the Democratic and Republican national conventions? The return of L.A. Rising? Who knows. Subscribing to the new website only offers more clues. “Clear the way for the Prophets of Rage,” an instant email reply reads. “The party’s over summer 2016.” A brand new Facebook page for Prophets of Rage is posting music videos from Cypress Hill and Public Enemy. Something’s definitely up.
Can it be true? Zack de la Rocha, Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk are coming back around again? Only time will tell. The skeptical note that “Prophets of Rage” is the name of a tribute band and a Public Enemy song. It looked like the band’s L.A. Rising festival was going to be revived from social media postings two years ago until it wasn’t. (We even asked Immortal Technique about it!) Rage fans have been down this road before. The news may have nothing to do with the world’s most dangerous band or it could just turn out to be one of the best kept music secrets ever!
The time is always right for the return of Rage Against the Machine, but this summer is looking to be a particularly long, hot one. The two-party system is trying to shock absorb progressive and white nationalist populist currents. Police brutality has sparked urban unrest and birthed a new, lasting #BlackLivesMatter social movement. De la Rocha put it best. “What better place than here? What better time than now!”
Let there be no false prophets.