Tom Morello: Science Friction
GW When you were using the talk box, were you tempted to bust out with “Rocky Mountain Way” or “Livin’ on a Prayer”?
MORELLO [laughs] No, no, no! None of that. But I do believe the talk box is an untapped resource. There are some new sounds I might be able to coax out of that thing. Time will tell.
GW You mentioned using a ring modulator. Are there any other new additions to your effect setup?
MORELLO No. You know, I don’t even know where that ring modulator went to! My setup is pretty much the same as always: a Dunlop Cry Baby wah pedal, a DigiTech Whammy Pedal, a Boss Digital Delay pedal, a DOD EQ pedal, an MXR Phase 90 and a Boss Tremolo pedal.
GW When you play live, are there any new guitars you’ll be bringing along?
MORELLO Well, there’s the burnt Les Paul and the 335. The other guitars will probably be my old favorites: the Soul Power guitar, the Eighties Telecaster, Arm the Homeless…
GW How about your amps?
MORELLO Live, I’ll be using the same main rig that I’ve used for years: the Marshall head and the Peavey cabinet. You know, my guitar tech and I have never opened up the back of that cabinet; we’re too superstitious. We’re like, “All the speakers still work. Leave it alone!” [laughs] And I might bring the Vox AC30 reissue. I have to take it to the rehearsal room and see how it sounds.
GW Okay, Tom, now it’s time for a little theme-based, bonus round of questions. The theme is: I’ve read that you don’t like the Beatles.
MORELLO [loud laugh] Oh, boy! Much like Pete Townshend, I enjoy provocative statements. “Don’t like” is strong. “Overrated” is a better way of saying it.
GW Let me just name a few songs and get your reactions.
MORELLO Sure. Fire away.
MORELLO A fine, whiny song about being too rich and living in England.
MORELLO “Revolution” is okay. It’s an important song, but it doesn’t stand up against the 25 best Led Zeppelin songs.
GW “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
MORELLO Beautiful. Gorgeous. I wouldn’t call it a rock and roll song.
GW I can’t imagine the activist in you not responding to John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth.”
MORELLO Um, that’s not the Beatles.
GW Fair enough.
MORELLO [laughs] See, here’s the thing that I object to: the decree that one must accept the Beatles as the greatest rock and roll band ever. They wrote beautiful songs with lovely melodies and were intellectual beyond anybody’s wildest dreams. But they were hardly a rock and roll band. “Helter Skelter”? Awesome jam. That’s one.
GW What about “Come Together”?
MORELLO [thinks] I’d say that’s two. Two’s not bad.
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