Featuring three quarters of Rage Against The Machine (and indeed Audioslave), and fronted by Public Enemy’s Chuck D along with Cypress Hill’s B-Real, Prophets Of Rage’s individual members have an incredible and diverse musical history. Formed in 2016 to ‘Unfuck The World’, the metal / hip-hop hybrid are readying the release of their self-titled debut album. We caught up with the two front men on the red carpet at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards to talk performing, powerful lyrics, and improbable guitar solos. Bringing the noise: Eamon O’Neill.
Good evening guys; congratulations on a killer Download Festival Set.
B-Real: It was amazing, you know. Great energy.
You gave a shout out to Rage Against The Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha during the show; what does it feel like to sing those tracks?
B-Real: It’s mind-blowing as a fan, so to be able to go do it as an artist in tribute of Zack and these songs, and be the bull horn with those lyrics around the world, I mean, it’s an incredible honour. And the energy that people receive this with is amazing; it’s pretty much they energise us with their energy. It’s like a fuckin’ boomerang of energy here, and it’s incredible.
The message in those RATM lyrics is still very powerful today.
Chuck D: Oh yeah, even more so. Twenty-five years is a long time, I guess in music, but not in real life. Unfortunately, generations move forward, but time sometimes stans still when it comes down to bureaucracy and hypocrisy and corruption; all the things that Zack also talked about in those songs. In the end of it, Prophets Of Rage is not about performing them; it’s like really happening, flowing out and believing in them.
Prophets Of Rage is the perfect marriage between hip-hop and rock and metal; it’s the perfect time for your guys to come together, isn’t it?
B-Real: I think, you know, the years that Chuck has been with Public Enemy, and I with Cypress Hill and the other guys with Rage Against The Machine, I think it was all training us for this moment, for now, this time, and here we are.
People are obviously very keen to hear the album; what can you tell us about it?
B-Real: It’s going to be powerful. What we tried to do was to make some rockin’ music, more than anything, and make our messages on it; things that are happening right now, relevant things that people are neglecting to talk about in their music – which is fine, everybody has their lane, and what they want to do, but we chose to be the voice of the people.
Download was your first British gig; are you hoping to come back with a full European tour next year?
B-Real: Well, you know, we’re here for four weeks, we’ve done the first week now, and we’re here for another three weeks. This is our first run in Europe as Prophets of Rage, and we foresee more.
Chuck D: Also, this tour is a European tour. We like to tour big, and that’s what we’re doing right now.
Is it nice for you to be able to drop in your own tracks during the show, bringing in the DJ and transforming the rock gig into a hip-hop show?
B-Real: Yeah, it’s a nice little break, and it shows our fans the diversity that was have as a band; to do a full on rock set, and then break into a hip-hop set and not lose ant momentum or energy. The hip-hop songs we play are just as powerful as the rock and metal songs that we’re playing, so it’s just a transfer of energy, man.
The band’s set also includs a cover of Audioslave’s ‘Like A Stone’.
B-Real: We wanted to pay tribute to our friend. He was a great singer, he was a great guy, and we thought it would be fitting that we tribute him at these metal fests. It’s great when Serj [Tankian, System Of A Down front man] is there because he does such a beautiful job in interpreting the song, but when he’s not there, the fans sing it. It’s a great energy that we are sending to Chris’ sprirt.
With so much incredible material to choose from, how do you choose that to play live?
Chuck D: Tom [Morello] burdens himself; he’s the master of that, so we leave it up to him. He can think about it while we’re sleeping. Overnight he’ll stay up eight hours thinking about tomorrow’s set.
B-Real: But somehow it always works, it always works. We go through it and it ends up being kick ass, so we never question his set-making abilities.
Chuck D: We go through different songs to have them in the repertoire, in case we want to change it up. We experiment when we rehearse, and we have a great working discovery with each other. [We had] a gigantic tour of the United States least year, and man, did we have a flow where we knew we’re going to go about hitting a record. We thoroughly worked out, like, it’s almost like they say in a some great sports teams; “our practice is our heart, and it shows”.
What’s it like working with Tom Morello; Do you sometimes look across the stage and go; “how is he doing that?”
B-Real: Yeah, actually the whole band is like; “oh shit!” In rehearsal, he does messes around and throws little teasers out there, but when the show starts, something happens, where Mr. Morello becomes this animal that we didn’t see in the rehearsal space. He comes with these crazy solos.
Chuck D: He digs down and enters an area that few dare to go. It’s just like in our performance where he takes on DJ Lord, and you’re seeing the guitarist and the turntables match skill for speed, for speed for skill, and it comes out of the mind of Tom Morello.
B-Real: He’s just a creative person, and he’s tried to take his part of the art to different levels. He wanted to do something different that he hadn’t done on any other records on the album that we put together. So, you know he’s just trying to be distinct on everything, and I think some of the solos that people are going to hear on this record, they’re going to be very fuckin’ pleased.
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Banner photo also by Enda Madden.