Zack de la Rocha Breaks His Silence

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He hasn’t spoken to the press for a while, but today I got a taste of what’s been brewing inside the mind of Zack de la Rocha in the L.A. Times. Check out the interview for yourself, but first here are my highlights:

On the surface, some of these new songs seem very anti-religious, including the single. I don’t see it as an anti-religious song. I see it as the West has been using Christianity as a way to justify its actions when in reality, those figures, Christ and Muhammad, were rebels. These two religious figures have been co-opted to justify power, although they fought against the abuses of power and the expansion of empire. It’s almost like, what would Christ and Muhammad do?

What do you think of the state of political art now? Sometimes it seems to have really died down, what with a mainstream full of teen pop and reality television. I’m listening to things all the time. There have been eight years of the Bush administration and the decline of real wages, and people are responding all the time. It’s unfortunate that more conscious artists or political artists in general haven’t been heard in the mainstream. But I think back to when I was going to hardcore shows and I saw the Bad Brains, those moments resonate and are life-altering moments. Those people who were at those shows have become artists or activists as a result of having their perspective shifted.

During the 1980s when punk was seen as unviable or dangerous, or threatening to the music industry, those voices went underground and created their own networks and vehicles for producing what they produced. It did create a very politicized generation. So I don’t necessarily feel that music within the mainstream is always an indication of the political frustrations that exist beneath the surface. I’ve traveled back and forth between here and Mexico a lot, especially since the Zapatista uprising in 1994. The Rand Corporation did this study about how the Zapatistas were able to create such an international presence and have their experiences and the objectives of the rebellion outlined for so many people worldwide, and how that was responsible for fending off a more direct military action against the communities. It had a lot to do with the Internet. Whether you’re interested in change and growing up in the Lacandon jungle, or whether you’re young here and watching these horrors unfold in Iraq and Afghanistan, we now have the tools to provide a countervoice.

Amen, hermano. Check out the full interview at