This week, Rage Against the Machine began rehearsing their new songs as a prelude to their Oct. 10 appearance at the two-day Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, in the desert two hours outside of Los Angeles.
The four members have also gotten down to the business of deciding on an album title for their new collection (due in stores early November), as well as on the cover artwork and other such details.
"There's no title yet, but there are some potential ones, so we'll sort all that out this week," says guitarist Tom Morello. "The idea is to learn this record over the next couple of weeks. We're also making progress on all the set-up stuff, the artwork and all that business. Hopefully a lot of things will be figured out by this Friday."
Morello -- speaking both backstage after their show earlier this month in Hawaii (allstar, Aug. 5) and on the phone Tuesday (Aug. 24) -- tells us the band tracked 15 original songs with long-time producer Brendan O'Brien, ultimately finishing 12 of them, including the last four which Morello and singer Zack de la Rocha completed in the days leading up to Rage's Woodstock '99 appearance.
"On this record there's really some heavy shit," says Morello. "There's some stuff that's faster than anything that we've done before. Especially the way [bassist] Timmy and [drummer] Brad [Wilk] are playing better than they ever have. Not just better, but totally hard-rocking in unique and different ways. This record is awesome. I've never been more proud of anything we've done than this batch of songs. I can't wait to start rehearsing and playing them, because most of these new songs we've never played in front of people."
Pressed to describe some of the new methods that he employs on their new album, Morello is clearly enthused about his and his bandmates' musical progress, which began with their self-named 1992 debut.
"These songs have stuff that I've never done or heard before. Whether it's good or not is for the listener to decide, but it's certainly different than guitar music that you've heard before. I don't want to say there's a lot of different flavors, it's not like there's ska on this record. But there's the usual Rage dynamics, which are pretty huge. And there's crazy new guitar sounds."
Asked why Rage has only made three albums in their seven years together so far, Morello says he can't really complain about the extra care that the band takes. "I would prefer to make records much more frequently than we do," he admits. "But one of the advantages of taking this long is it gives me plenty of time to get a whole new arsenal of guitar sounds and techniques to throw into the songs. Plus it takes time to refuel and we want it to be great. We were determined when we started making this record to make it not just a great record but by far the best Rage record. And it took a while to make sure that we did that."
-- Troy J. Augusto