For over a year, guitarist Tom Morello has been playing with his new group Audioslave, and while three-quarters of the musicians are from his former outfit Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave's music lacks fiery, politically charged lyrics. So, as much as he loves Audioslave, Morello is exhilarated to be taking part in Tell Us the Truth, a winter acoustic tour with Billy Bragg and Lester Chambers conceived to protest media consolidation and globalization.
The 14-date trek kicks off November 7 with two nights at the National Conference on Media Reform in Madison, Wisconsin. Dates run through November 24 in Washington, D.C. All three artists will perform solo acoustic. "It's very stripped down and Woody Guthrie-esque, sort of early Bob Dylan 'The Times They Are A-Changin' ' kind of show," Morello said. "It's unlikely that there will be any mosh pits, but one never knows."
Morello will be playing original songs he wrote for the tour, and rocking under the moniker the Nightwatchman. "He is an artist of the people," Morello said. "Media consolidation needs smashing and globalization needs unmasking, and that is what the Nightwatchman is called to do on this tour, and he will respond to that challenge."
The Tell Us the Truth Tour was organized by Bragg, a major social and political activist/musician in England. In addition to being a big fan of Bragg's, Morello strongly supports the cause at hand.
"About 10 years ago, there was this huge problem of all of the major media outlets being owned by as few as 50 different companies and individuals," Morello explained. "Well, today, they're owned by about six. They are corporations that have an agenda, and in order for a democracy to function properly people need access to accurate and objective information. They are certainly not getting that from the major corporate media outlets now. We're highlighting that, and demanding to be told the truth, so that we, as citizens, can make accurate judgments on what we see in the world, and what we want to do about it."
When he looks out at the political landscape and the state of the world, Morello, a liberal, somewhat radical thinker, can't help but shake his head. He refers to Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent gubernatorial victory in California as "the latest in a long series of embarrassing political maneuvers" and continues to vocally oppose U.S. military action in the Middle East. Aside from sheer rage, Morello exhibits a shade of optimism that the increasingly dismal state of the world will result in significant change.
"I'm certain Bush won't be re-elected," Morello asserts. "From the economy being in the toilet to American kids dying every day in a war we should never have gotten into, that's not a very solid resume. All of his personal jack-assed-ness aside, the one thing that was clear at the end of the day is that the Dixie Chicks were right. They had every right to be embarrassed that that guy is from Texas."
Not that Morello has always supported the Democratic Party. During the 2000 Democratic National Convention, Rage Against the Machine played a show to protest the two-party system and the policies of President Clinton (see "Rage Against The Machine Delivers Set Outside DNC"). The concert will be included in the Rage Against the Machine concert CD and DVD, which comes out November 25 (see "Rage Against The Machine's Final Concerts Hitting CD, DVD In November".)
"It has footage from the final month of the Rage Against the Machine shows," Morello said. "Rage was a band that had a very special relationship with the city of Los Angeles. In the music you could hear the heat and the smog and the violence and the poverty and the hope that makes up this city, and I think that that is captured very accurately on this CD and DVD."
Tell Us the Truth tour dates:
- 11/7 - Madison, WI @ National Conference on Media Reform
- 11/8 - Madison, WI @ National Conference on Media Reform
- 11/10 - Chicago, IL @ Park West
- 11/11 - Royal Oak, MI @ Royal Oak Music Theatre
- 11/12 - Indianapolis, IN @ The Vogue
- 11/13 - NaNashville at Belcourt Theater
- 11/15 - Asheville, NC @ TBA
- 11/16 - Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
- 11/18 - Tampa, FL @ TBA
- 11/19 - Miami, FL @ People's Gala for Global Justice
- 11/21 - Glenside, PA @ Keswick Theatre
- 11/22 - New York, NY @ Webster Hall
- 11/23 - Boston, MA @ Berklee Performance Center
- 11/24 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club