Rage Against the Machine reveals origin of band name: vehicle problems

April 8, 2010

They’re a heavy-metal rock, hip-hop, alternate rock band known for both their angry lyrics and their political activism.

And now, Rage Against the Machine is opening up about the origins of their band.

And while for many years their name is said to have come from a song lead singer/songwriter Zack De La Rocha wrote for his former band Inside Out, Rage Against the Machine has revealed to Ponderings From Pluto the true origins of their band name.

A 1979 Chevrolet van.

This is the machine that Rage Against the Machine raged against.

“That piece of [expletive] was always breaking down,” De La Rocha said. “I can’t tell you how many times that van broke down back in 1991 when we were starting out, how many gigs we lost because it would quit working.”

RAM’s frontman estimates the band spent far more than what the van was worth on the countless repairs. The other members, Tim Commerford the bassist, Tom Morello the guitarist and Brad Wilk the drummer all tried their hands at repairing the van, without success. Morello, understandably so, was concerned he might get his hands caught somewhere inside the engine and permanently ruin his guitar-playing ability.

Among the van’s countless problems: two transmission replacements, four transmission leaks, three oil leaks, a blown head gasket, an alternator and five replacements of shocks due to all the equipment the band carried.

“We called that monstrosity every name you can think of and even invented a few new words,” De La Rocha said. “When we finally made enough money to buy a new van to house our equipment, the first thing we all did was take sledgehammers and beat the [expletive] out of that thing.”

And because they expressed such rage at the unreliable van, hence the name, Rage Against the Machine.

Among the other names the band considered were Livid, Future Rage, Lawrence Welk Sucks along with De La Rocha, Commerford, Morello and Wilk.

Commerford said RAM also fits the band’s rebellion against what it sees as conventional stupidity and against Republican governments.

“We’re all very liberal who feel that Bush lied, people died,” Commerford added. “We also believe that Osama bin Laden is far less evil than what Ronald Reagan was.”

The band is embarking on a reunion tour it hopes will result in a new studio album.

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