Paul Stenning – Stage Fighters

Rage Against The Machine biography

Finally a biography about one of the most incendiary American acts of modern times, and it’s worth the wait.

Rage Against The Machine’s reunion has been one of the more surprising – if welcome – musical stories of the past few years. In their initial incarnation Rage Against The Machine changed lives the way most groups change producer, informing a generation of a world-view outside that of conservative America.

The band disintegrated in 2000 amid internal fighting, with iconoclastic frontman Zack De La Rocha disappearing into the wilderness as the remainder of Rage Against The Machine morphed into the inexcusable Audioslave.

Emerging from the LA hardcore scene, the band endured a long apprenticeship, leaving behind them more failed outfits than Wayne Hemingway. Stenning picks out the pre-history of the band with rare detail, putting myths to rest along the way. Tom Morrello emerges as a driven, ambitious musician – far from having natural talent he was a late developer, who practiced up to 12 hours a day. De La Rocha is humanised, the tragic story of his unstable father sketched out with a sympathetic hand by the author.

Stenning’s dislike for hip hop rankles however, with the frequently made assertion that rock is a superior genre perhaps a little out of step with the ideology of Rage Against The Machine. While the band’s politics are outlined in a detailed, thorough manner, a fuller insight into the group’s critics could be made.

The reunion of the band comes at a pivotal time in American history. With neo-conservatism coming under fire at home and abroad Rage Against The Machine have perhaps never been more in keeping with popular opinion. The songs banned by commercial radio after the 9/11 attacks have come to represent for many a truer picture of America than that presented by mainstream media. A fascinating if flawed insight into a vital band.

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