Rage Against The Machine's Killing In The Name was originally an instrumental

18 August 2020, 13:05 | Updated: 18 August 2020, 13:33

Tom Morello takes part in a photo shoot in Bristol, UK in 2019
Tom Morello takes part in a photo shoot in Bristol, UK in 2019. Picture: Joby Sessions/Total Guitar Magazine

Rage guitarist Tom Morello explained that the band's iconic single was initially written and performed without any lyrics.

Tom Morello has said the band's iconic track Killing In The Name was "originally an instrumental" before frontman Zack de la Rocha came up with the "historic lyrics".

The Rage Against The Machine rocker has opened up in depth about the political outfit's iconic track, and how the band - completed by Tim Commerford, Zack de la Rocha and Brad Wilk - first performed it without any words.

Speaking on the Rolling Stone Music Now podcast, he said: "It was originally an instrumental.

"There's a Rage Against the Machine video from Cal State Northridge - which is our first public performance - where we open the show with an instrumental version of Killing in the Name and Timmy [Commerford], I think, came up with that really cool [sings bass riff].

"It's got Brad's crowd-bouncing beat is there from the very, very beginning. And then Zack laced it with the historic lyrics that you hear today."

READ MORE: Twitter reacts to fact Rage Against The Machine are are political band

The rap rock band also originally left the powerful lyrics out of the liner notes for their self-titled 1992 debut album to give them more of an impact when fans heard the words for the first time.

He explained: "We actually left the lyrics off of the lyric sheet of the first record, because it's I think it's two lines, 16 'f*** yous,' and one 'motherf*****.' And we're like, 'in the midst of all this grand political poetry, let's just that one stand for itself."

Despite the lyrical simplicity of the main breakdown in the defiant anthem, Morello suggested the enduring "sentiment" makes it one of frontman Zack's best lines.

He added: "'F*** you, I won't do what you tell me' is a universal sentiment. While it's a simple lyric, I think it's one of [Zack de la Rocha's] most brilliant."

READ MORE: The story of Rage Against The Machine's Killing In The Name

Tom Morello and RATM have become part of plenty of discussions of late, with the guitarist making his stance clear on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Back in June a fan of the band went viral after not seeming to understand that the band were political.

Tom Morello took to Twitter to reply to a fan who wrote: "I use to be a fan until your political opinions come out. Music is my sanctuary and the last thing I want to hear is political bs when i’m listening to music. As far as i’m concerned you and Pink are completely done. Keep running your mouth and ruining your fan base."

The Take The Power Back rocker showcased the tweet and replied: "Scott!! What music of mine were you a fan of that DIDN’T contain “political BS”? I need to know so I can delete it from the catalog."

Morello - who was born to Kenyan diplomat Ngethe Njoroge and American activist Mary Morello - also talked about the fact that many fans do not recognise him as black, and freak out when he declares himself to be.

READ MORE: Tom Morello says some of his fanbase freak "the f**k out" when I say I'm black