How did Rage Against the Machine get their name?

Tom Morello, Zack de la Rocha, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk came together in 1991 to form Rage Against the Machine. The quartet released three solid, politically-charged studio albums between 1992 and 1999, with their studio career ending with a collection of covers in 2000 titled Renegades.

De la Rocha called it quits shortly after the release of Renegades, so the remaining trio of musicians decided to form a new band together with Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, which they called Audioslave. Three albums later, Audioslave was over, and de la Rocha returned in 2007 for a Rage reunion that lasted until 2011. They essentially dissolved after that.

In late 2019, Rage Against the Machine created an Instagram account, sparking rumors of another reunion. The news was confirmed on Nov. 1, with a tour planned for the following year. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a two year delay, so they didn't take the stage until the summer of 2022. The second show in, de la Rocha tore his Achilles tendon, and performed the rest of the tour while sitting down.

After the remaining legs of their tour were canceled, Wilk wrote in an Instagram post in early 2024 that the band would not be returning to the stage to perform together again. This shut down any hopes for the band to make up the shows they had canceled, so as it seems, Rage are no more once again.

They're likely regarded as one of the biggest political bands in rock 'n' roll history, so it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that "the machine" their rage was directed at was the government. But how did they come up with the name?

How Did Rage Against the Machine Get Their Name?

Prior to forming Rage Against the Machine, de la Rocha was in an Orange County-based hardcore punk band called Inside Out. According to an interview Rolling Stone conducted with Rage Against the Machine in 1999, they were named after a song that the vocalist had written while he was still in Inside Out (listen to the song below).

Who Coined the Phrase Rage Against the Machine?

Although de la Rocha had named a song "Rage Against the Machine," he and his bandmates in Inside Out didn't actually coin the phrase themselves. Kent McClard, publisher of the hardcore fanzine No Answers, came up with the phrase in an essay, which can be read here.

An excerpt from the writing reads:

We need a revolution within ourselves. We need a revolution within our scene. We need a revolution. Do you understand? Do I understand? We need to radically alter the way we conduct our lives. We need to change the way we relate to each other. We need to rearrange our goals and desires. The machine must be destroyed. I mean it. It is no joke. It is no game. It is no lyric. It is no idle threat. It is a war. Wage war. Commit. Agitate. Educate. Speak. Act. Learn. Disobey. Rage Against the Machine.

READ MORE: Tom Morello's First Post Since We Learned Rage Against the Machine Are Done Touring

McClard had also founded Ebullition Records, the label that was initially supposed to release Inside Out's first album. However, they went with Revelation Records instead and released the EP No Spiritual Surrender in 1990.

Inside Out, "Rage Against the Machine"

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