Former Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello was recently interviewed on Kyle Meredith With… on Consequence of Sound. He discussed Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl missing out on appearing on the album. Ultimate-Guitar transcribed excerpts from the interview.
A trivial fact about which I was pretty curious – I read somewhere that you texted Dave Grohl to be on this record…
“Yeah! [Laughs] Steve Aoki had sent me the mix of the song that became ‘How Long,’ and it just totally rocked me.
“I said, ‘Who do you think we should approach to sing it?’. He said ‘I would really love Tim McIlrath from Rise Against and I’d love Dave Grohl, I think either one of them would be great.’
“I said ‘I’ll hit them both and see who texts me back first.’ [Laughs] And Tim, Tim got the gig.”
And Dave lost out… I mean, he’s not hurt or something…
“I love Dave, he’s great! And he’s jammed a couple of time with Prophets of Rage – we have absolutely blown the roof off the joint playing with that guy and I look forward to playing with him whenever I have the opportunity.”
Congratulations on ‘The Atlas Underground.’ It’s the first record with your own name. You didn’t go with the Nightwatchman or anything like that?
“Yeah, because it’s an electric guitar record, and the idea with this record was to create a sonic conspiracy with diverse artists, to forge a brand new genre of rock and roll, combined Marshall stack fury and huge EDM drops.
“It’s a solo record, and I’m the songwriter, guitarist, and curator, but it’s also a collaborative record where I brought 20 or so very diverse artists.”
Talking about creating a new sound, you’re no stranger to creating a new version of rock and roll…
“Yeah, I like to challenge myself as a guitarist and as an artist. I’ve never been a fan of electronic music, but when I’ve discovered Knife Party, Bassnectar, and Skrillex, I really heard in that music the kind of sonic power and an intentional release of rock and metal.
“And I called those guys up. I said, ‘What if we replace your synthesizers with my electric guitar? We might be onto something unique.'”
Marcus Mumford might be the most surprising of all the guests out here, it seems like you both brought each other closer to your usual world.
“I’ve played some Nightwatchman shows with Mumford. I’m a huge fan of his band and his singing, we’re both rock dads who have a lot to talk about and drink about, so over a couple of FaceTime sessions, we wrote a song over two continents. He was in the UK, and I was in the US.
“Josh from Phantogram produced that track [‘Find Another Way’], and to me, it’s a great meeting of all of our worlds.”
You mentioned Gary Clark Jr. too. When you think about the two of you, I mean – here’s two guitar gods on a three-hour jam. It’s [the ‘Where It’s At Ain’t What It Is’ song] still not the type of sound, a type of song that I would expect out of that.
“I wanted to make a record conceptually, not sonically, ‘the Hendrix of now.’ What I mean by that, it’s got to have extraordinary guitar play, I want to inflict my guitar vision in 2018.
“The genre that Hendrix dealt with was blues-rock, and millions of guitar players make blues-rock records. No one’s yet made a record with me and Gary Clark Jr, in a particular way that this particular album rocks.”
How much control did you have around the lyrics?
“We had lengthy discussions with the lyricists, but there was a narrative of social-justice ghost stories on the record.
“And we were telling the stories of past martyrs and the fallen to shed light on the struggles of the present and hopefully, light a sonic bonfire that would be a beacon towards a more just and humane future.”