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"99 Percent to 1, I Like Those Odds": Tom Morello on Protest Music, Occupy Wall Street, and Bringing Class Politics to Comic Books

The former Rage Against the Machine guitarist has a new album, a new comic book about environmental and class politics, and has been visiting protests around the US.

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And the Spanish Civil War!

You’ve gotta have jams. You’ve gotta have righteous jams in order to win. Maybe righteous comic books as well.

This is your first foray into comic books. Were there comics that were an inspiration?

I collected comic books up until I started playing guitar, when I was 16 or 17.

Guitars are more expensive than comics!

My first one was not that much more expensive than some books that you can buy here today. But it was also when I became politically aware. I was a fan of escapist music and escapist comics. I put those down for rock and politics at the time. But in those intervening years, comics have come a long way. The comics that I grew up with, that I liked very much, were Weird Tales, and Kamandi and all the Marvel rock-’em-sock-’em stuff, the Avengers, X-Men. But the comics that brought me back in were V for Vendetta, Red Star, they made me realize oh, my ideas can exist in this world as well. I didn’t want to compromise in any way, shape, or form, on the exciting world…but there’s going to be a good dose of politics.

And there’s a good deal of global warming politics as well as class. How do you see those two interacting?

We’re now living in a world where the seas are once again receding and this is what we’re left with. The apocalypse has gone down, and now we gotta kind of make up our mind what we’re going to do with it. The inspiration for that was I’m a big fan of Stephen King’s book,  The Stand, where there’s this disease that is the Apocalypse, and that just shatters society, and it opens the door for something worse than the disease.