Rage Against The Machine Member Reveals How Zack de la Rocha Taught Him To Play Instrument

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Prophets of Rage/Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave bassist Tim Commerford discussed his relationship with Zack De La Rocha in a new interview with Eddie Trunk (transcribed by Ultimate-Guitar):

“When I was in like sixth grade was when I first wanted to play music.

“I was inspired to play music by Zack De La Rocha. He and I have been friends since I was in third grade, and he was in second grade. We grew up together.

“He played guitar. We went to this middle school in Irvine, CA that had a rock show. They had a guitar program that was really good. Every year they would have this rock show, and any kid in the school could step up and sing what they wanted.

“And then the guitar class would play. And Zack was a really great guitar player. He was the one kid who got to play electric guitar. Another friend of mine, Johh, played drums, and the bass player was the janitor.

“And I always thought, ‘God, I can do that!’ So that school really inspired me to want to play music. And then ultimately Zack… At the time I was listening to Sex Pistols, that was my favorite band.

“And here’s this kid that I’ve met that knew how to play every single Sex Pistols song on ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ – Zack.

“So I first started off by… I would put books on the floor, and use skateboard rails… Back in the ’80s you put rails on the bottom of the skateboard so you could glide and slide on the curbs and whatnot.

“And I would take an old set of rails and use those as drum sticks, and play on books, sing Sex Pistols songs, and Zack would play the guitar. The song ‘Bodies’ was our jam, because the F-word was prominent.

“That was our thing. And if my dad would have known I was listening to that, he would probably kick my ass for sure. I loved it. Eventually it went from that to Zack teaching me how to play bass on an acoustic guitar.

“I remember him pressing my hands on the neck and going, ‘You really gotta push hard on the frets!’ It hurt my hands. And he was like, ‘When you play bass you use your fingers!’

“So he gave me the right advice, and I got my bass shortly thereafter. I was just over-the-top Sex Pistols fanatic – learned every song, played Sex Pistols all the time.

“And then one day, I was at Zack’s house, and we were playing the Sex Pistols… I remember he had a drum set in his house, he was a great drummer. Zack’s a great musician on pretty much every instrument!

“He said, ‘Dude, check this band out! I want you to hear this! Check this bass player out!’ He gave me the Rush’s ‘Archives’ album [the box set containing their first three albums].

“I was really blown away by that and the way Geddy Lee played. And I started down that road of just becoming a full-on Rush fanatic. To this day I look at ‘Moving Pictures’ and ‘Hemispheres” and ‘Primitive Ways’ and even ‘Signals.’

“That whole era of Rush is bass to bass, which is the ultimate. And I still feel that, the same way.

“I gotta credit Zack to inspiring me to wanna play music, and inspiring me to wanna play the bass guitar.

“I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for him.”