Special Interest Infodump: Rage Against the Machine

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I’m currently really struggling. My house is undergoing renovation so I have to stay at my aunt’s place for about a month. I’ve been staying here for 2 weeks already and I’m still not used to it. I miss having my own room. My relatives’ voices can be very loud so it’s easy to get overstimulated. I’ve resorted to sleeping during the day and staying up late at night because that’s the only way I can get peace and quiet and be alone with my thoughts. On top of all that, I got my period this week, making my whole experience even shittier.

The only thing keeping me from a meltdown is indulging in my current special interest, Rage Against the Machine. So allow me to indulge in it by infodumping about them to y’all!

Rage Against the Machine was one of my favourite bands when I was a teen. I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan back then; I just really liked their sound. I started listening to them again recently when I realised their songs are at the right level of difficulty for me to learn on bass. And my RATM fandom grew from there!

I started paying attention to their lyrics and realised that their message is still relevant today. I think my experiences as a disabled person naturally made me left-leaning and anti-capitalist, so their lyrics definitely resonate with me. Their music also helps me make sense of the world and times we’re living in.

I’m so in love with Zack de la Rocha (RATM frontman). He seems like a really sweet and humble guy from all the anecdotes I’ve read from people who met him or know him personally. I also found an interview where he described himself as a “virtual mute” until he discovered punk music (and I can’t help but wonder, could he be one of us?? 🤔🤔🤔):

Did you feel able to speak out in class, to put your views across?

I was a virtual mute until I began to listen to Sex Pistols, Government Issue, Minor Threat and Bad Brains and a lot of East Coast hard-core. It struck a nerve in me when I was 16.

As a virtual mute, did you communicate with anyone?

I had a very close relationship with my mother. That helped. I had very few friends. I didn’t speak that much to people. I rarely found myself in the classroom for more than half a semester. I thought, well, I’m not doing anything in school…

And then?

Oh man. I started playing music. Hahaha. I started venting in some way all of the fear and alienation and confusion I felt. I just kind of exploded. It became the only thing I could put any of myself into.

So you weren’t interested in, or able to talk to girls?

Hahaha. Of course I was interested.

If you were a virtual mute, it must have been hard to get a date.

It was, and believe me I had very few. Very few. I think my high school experience pushed me through a crisis of identity, it enabled me to be more of a critical individual. It made me question the institution I was forced to adjust to and my relationship with society. Those four years or so during high school were what eventually politicized me, cause the experience made me step back and take a look at how I was being indoctrinated. Once I’d left, I became engaged in reading and since then, I’ve gone through my own self-education.

When you became politicized, did you stop being a virtual mute?

No. It had a lot more to do with forcing me to recognize who I was and precisely where I stood in relation to the American economic system. I just began to identify with the poorest people in my community.

Reading this interview meant a lot to me as I was a virtual mute (or rather selectively/situationally mute) in school too and punk music changed my life in a similar way.

I also found a video where Zack spoke in a very soft, whispery voice, and that made me so happy because that’s very close to how I speak IRL, and I’ve always felt deeply self-conscious about it my whole life.

Seeing my idol having similar traits as me, especially traits that I’ve always felt ashamed of, is incredibly validating beyond words.

(To be clear, I’m not trying to diagnose him. I’m just saying there are relatable traits I see in him that I can’t deny.)

I also greatly admire Zack’s strong principles and how he always unapologetically stands up for what he believes in. He looks out for women’s safety at his concerts, and would stop shows if he sees any asshole in the audience assaulting women and condemns their behaviour. And when RATM was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year, Zack was seen at a pro-Palestine march instead of the induction ceremony.

It actually makes me proud to share similar traits with someone like that. I really look up to him as a role model now.

You know, I think every revolutionary act is an act of love. Every song that I’ve written, it is because of my desire to use music as a way to empower and re-humanize people who are living in a dehumanizing setting. The song is in order to better the human condition. Every song that I’ve ever written is a love song.

Zack de la Rocha

This is my favourite quote of his. In a way, it reminds me of what I’m trying to do with this website.

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