Rage Against the Machine’s Tim Commerford Talks Future User, Influences + More
Rage Against The Machine bassist Tim Commerford recently unleashed his new project Future User with fellow musician Jordan Tarlow. Loudwire Nights host Full Metal Jackie caught up with Commerford who talked about his new music, his influences and a lot more. Check out the interview below:
Tim, how do new ways of making music lead to learning about new genres of music?
For me, I've always been intimidated by the computer coming from the era of record industry and record stores and buying records and looking at album covers, waiting in line for records when they came out and then ultimately being successful in a band where we recording pre-computer era. I was always against the computer and against what it stood for. Now, I've gone full circle. Now I'm respecting the computer for what it's capable of doing. That I refer to it as the ultimate prog-rock musician, it never messes up and it can do things that no other human can do.
I've now embraced it as the instrument of our era, where we had keyboards and that spawned New Wave music. Then we had samplers and then there was hip-hop. Guitars, there was rock 'n' roll. Saxophone, jazz. Now we have the computer and there's this electronic thing happening in music that is somewhat superhuman. I don't know whether or not I answered your question, but I do think that by working with a computer it's enabled me to open my eyes to other kinds of music that maybe I was not paying that much attention to in the past.
Rage Against The Machine pushed boundaries by combining dissimilar music styles, so does Future User. Is stepping into the unknown what makes music so exhilarating for you?
Yeah. I love all kinds of music and I love to play or try to play all kinds of music. One form of music that I loved as a kid coming up as a kid was the whole progressive rock movement. I loved Pink Floyd, Rush and Yes and King Crimson and some of these crazier progressive rock bands. As a kid, that's how I learned how to play my instrument. Then, within the context of Rage I never really got to embellish on that upbringing. In the same way that Rage combined rock 'n' roll with hip hop, which at that point in time barely anyone had begun to try, Future User, we've taken progressive rock and electronic music and blended it together. It's exciting for me; it always has been exciting to just break the rules. Whether it's the political rules, or the musical rules. To not do what's expected and break new ground. That's where I'm at. It feels fearless to me.
How do the musical heroes of your childhood continue to influence you when you're making music nothing like theirs?
I listened to what I'm doing right now and I'm calling it "progtronic," electric prog rock. That's really what it is and I'm looking at my influences as a child and they were progressive rock, like Rush. I really do feel that the music I'm playing ties in with what I grew up on.
Also, with Rage it was the same sort of thing. I grew up on the Sex Pistols and when I was a little kid in elementary school, Zack [de la Rocha] and I were friends. Zack knew how to play guitar and he would play. He knew all the songs on Never Mind the Bullocks and when I was in the sixth grade, that was my favorite record. That was the greatest record for me. Zack and I, he would come over my house and play guitar, an acoustic guitar and I would use skateboard rails and these little plastic rails that used to be on the edges of skateboards. You screw those in and I would use them as drumsticks and play on books on the floor and then I would sing Johnny Rotten style. That was when we were little kids. There was one song on that record in particular, called "Bodies" which is full of the F-word. There's a section of it where it just says it 10 times and I remember being a kid and being so moved by that going, yeah! Love that! Then here I was down the road in band where we profited off the F-word, so to speak. Again, it's like my influences as a little kid definitely came out in my music as an adult and it still does. Hopefully it will continue to do that.
What makes John McEnroe and Lance Armstrong perfect to be the visual representation of your music?
They both break the rules in completely different ways. Back to what I like to do musically, break the rules. What I like to do personally, break the rules. I guess it's no surprise when I think about who my friends are that those two guys happen to be my buddies and they're sort of notorious rule breakers. I felt like, for different reasons they both were perfect for the video I chose them to be in.
No matter what style or genre you play, what's constant about your love of music?
The bass guitar. I'm a bass player and I love the bass. I love all great bass players, when I hear a song and it might not even be that good of a song if it's got a badass bass line there's a good chance I'll probably be digging it. That's one thread that I try to keep alive in my music and in the same way that I don't want to repeat myself. Musically, I try not to repeat myself in the style of bass playing that I'm putting out there. That's it. I'm a bass player. I love the bass and that's what I'm listening for.
Thanks to Tim Commerford for the interview. Future User’s debut album #SteroidsOrHeroin is available now at iTunes. Tune in to Loudwire Nights With Full Metal Jackie and Tony LaBrie Monday through Friday at 7PM through midnight online or on the radio. To see which stations and websites air ‘Loudwire Nights,’ click here.