Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello discussed director Michael Moore getting arrested when they did their live performance at the New York Stock Exchange for their “Sleep Now In The Fire” music video in 1999 in a new Yahoo interview.
“We’d never met Mike before. I was a big fan. And I couldn’t wait to ask him one question: ‘How many times have you been arrested?’ He said, ‘Never.’ And I jokingly said, ‘Well, you’ve never worked with Rage Against the Machine.’ So anyway, he’s a man of few, few words as a director. He said, ‘This is what we’re going to do today. We’ve got a permit to play on the federal steps. We do not have a permit to play on the city streets, but we’re going to be up on the federal steps. But don’t stop playing, no matter what happens.’
So we’re up there, and when you’re making a video, you’re miming along to the song. So the CD is on and we’re pretending we’re playing. And placards are walking back and forth. Mike says, ‘OK, now we’re going to go down of the city sidewalk’ — the unpermitted city sidewalk. And we continue to play, continue to mime along, and a police sergeant comes up to me and says, ‘You’ve got to get back up on the steps.’ I remember what Mike said — no matter what happens, to keep playing — so this clearly falls under the auspices of that.
So I keep playing, and [the policeman] is getting mad and madder and madder. The vein in his neck is popping out. He’s like, ‘Get the f*** back up on the steps! Get on the steps!’ He’s so mad that he unplugs my guitar — and to his surprise, the music keeps playing. Then he unplugs Tim [Commerford’s] bass and he can’t believe what’s happening. He gives us a look of, like, religious horror on his face. And so he [detains] Mike, and as they’re carrying Michael Moore off in irons, Mike turns over his shoulder and delivers his second directorial edict of the afternoon, which is: ‘Take the New York Stock Exchange!’
That was not in any video treatment. So we rush over there. I go through the door, and there’s a frumpy dude and a security guy in a jacket. And I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m here to take the New York Stock Exchange. Is that a right or a left?’ And he hits the panic button and the riot police come and the riot doors slam shut. And so, the New York Stock Exchange was shut down in the middle of afternoon — capitalism grinding to a halt for a brief repast.”
Rage Against The Machine were set to reunite for a tour this year, including performances at the Coachella festival, but the pandemic has pushed it back to 2021, so it will not have an impact on the 2020 U.S. election. Rage Against The Machine last performed live at the LA Rising festival in July 2011. Rage Against The Machine made a new album ‘promise’ yesterday.