Given guitarist Tom Morello's keen interest in politics, one might think Audioslave's decision to use showers of pyrotechnics as the only light source in their "Cochise" video was some sort of gesture to protest the way the "war on terror" is being fought.
It wasn't, but many neighbors living near Los Angeles' Sepulveda Dam, where the footage was shot, thought the explosions were indeed related to terrorism.
"The local police and news station literally received thousands of calls from people who thought the city was under siege," laughed Morello. "All the freeways were blocked because they thought there was an attack occurring. Like someone had decided to attack and [the target] was going to be the San Fernando Valley."
The video, directed by Mark Romanek (Nine Inch Nails, R.E.M.), was shot September 25 and 26 and will air later this month. "Cochise" was named after an Apache Indian chief who declared war on the Southeast and drove out thousands of settlers. In a statement last month, Morello said, "Cochise the Avenger, fearless and resolute, attacked everything in his path with an unbridled fury. This song kinda sounds like that."
Audioslave features three members of Rage Against the Machine performing with ex-Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell, and Morello vows it's more than just a one-off studio project. The group will hit the road by early next year, he said, and plans to shoot other videos for tracks from Audioslave, due November 19. There are also plans for a follow-up.
"There's almost another album's worth of stuff [already done]," Morello said. "The most difficult part of the process was narrowing down the [tunes for the first] record because the other songs are every bit as good. We ended up choosing the songs that made for the best flow of an album, but there are some pretty fat jams that are still in the can."
While the first Audioslave album will be released on Epic Records (see "Audioslave Album Preview: Chris Cornell Provides New Cause To Rage"), the second disc will surface on Interscope. That's because Rage Against the Machine are still signed to Epic and Cornell to Interscope.
"It has never happened before where two record company giants have brokered this type of compromise," Morello noted.
Some Internet file-sharers may think they've had Audioslave's debut album for months, but the batch of songs leaked onto the Web in May isn't the genuine article, Morello said (see "Rage/Cornell-Credited Tracks Get Leaked Online"). That material was from workshop demos that are significantly different than the tracks on the record.
"They were different songs, different vocals, different lyrics, different guitar solos — just inferior sketches of works in progress which we had sent to a studio up in Seattle for Chris to listen to and work on," Morello said. "And someone at that studio helped themselves to a copy, and it then took about eight months to make its way to an Italian Web site. Then it went global over the next 48 hours, and everybody thought they had the record, which was so frustrating."
Morello is still miffed — not because he's afraid Audioslave have lost market share to downloaders, but because the material doesn't represent his band at its best.
"The record that we've made is so much different and so much better than those shabby demos," he insisted. "At the end of the day, whether you buy, steal or download our album, please just make sure you have the right one, because it's a work we're tremendously proud of and it's a work that deserves to be heard as we mean you to hear it."