On Black Friday final month, Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim Commerford unveiled his newest aspect undertaking, 7D7D, with the trio’s first single “Capitalism.” The music’s upbeat music supplies the right paradox to the anti-capitalist message on the coronary heart of its lyrics. “I want to make music that isn’t political, but I just can’t,” he tells me. “I don’t know why, but I just can’t.”
The normally stoic Commerford beams about how completely different the band’s music is in comparison with something he’s finished beforehand, with its bizarre time signatures and complicated instrumentation, together with using harp and saxophone (“I think the guitar is going the way of the saxophone in the way that it’s not going to be the main instrument in a band anymore,” he says).
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In addition to working with 7D7D, which additionally consists of his longtime buddies Jonny Polonsky and Mathias Wakrat and is signed to Ben Harper’s Mad Bunny label, Commerford spent his summer time on the street with Rage Against the Machine for the primary time in 11 years. The long-delayed tour dazzled followers throughout North America, proving that the band’s songs imply simply as a lot as when initially launched nearly three many years in the past. The Rage tour nearly fell aside after only a few days, when singer Zack de la Rocha tore his Achilles tendon throughout a present in Chicago. De la Rocha completed the itinerary by performing whereas seated, however what the general public didn’t know was that Commerford was additionally battling a big problem of his personal.
“I’ve been dealing with some pretty serious sh**,” Commerford tells me. “Right before I was about to go on tour with Rage, I had my prostate removed, and I have prostate cancer.” With the assist of his girlfriend and two sons, the 54-year-old musician, who’s the embodiment of a chiseled rock star, instantly confronted the hardest battle of his life.
“I’ve been someone that’s taken a lot of pride in being in shape and taking care of myself,” he says. “But it’s something where either you’re either lucky or not.”
Before our dialog, the one individuals who knew of Commerford’s situation have been his household, bandmates and a tight-knit circle of shut associates.
In addition to his most cancers, the musician mentioned his pleasure about launching 7D7D, touring with Rage and remaining optimistic.
SPIN: How have you ever stored a constructive outlook?
Tim Commerford: You can end up in a state of affairs like I’m in the place it’s like, fuck, my complete life modified. With every thing that occurs to me now, I ponder, am I feeling this fashion as a result of I’ve most cancers? Am I dropping my hair as a result of I’ve most cancers? Whatever it’s, it makes me surprise if it’s occurring as a result of I’ve most cancers. And prostate most cancers is a really, very, very robust one as a result of it’s related to your sexuality. It’s laborious to disconnect from that and if you’re compelled into that state of affairs, it’s a brutal psychological journey. I’ve been looking for assist teams, and it’s laborious to seek out individuals and laborious to speak about it. The struggling a part of it, the bodily struggling after the surgical procedure, I’ve by no means felt ache fairly like that. I’ve steel plates in my head and cadaver elements in my physique. I’ve finished a variety of harm by means of sports activities and mountain biking and this form of factor and I’ve at all times felt like I had a very excessive tolerance for ache, and that sh** introduced me to my knees. After the ache went away, I nonetheless haven’t actually been capable of rise up, despite the fact that I’m figuring out and doing sh**, however psychologically, the harm is extreme. It’s very laborious for me to not break down and get emotional.
It’s brave of you to share your story.
Thanks. I wasn’t planning on going right here with you till final night time. I’ve been struggling and it’s laborious. It won’t sound like a lot, however to get by means of a dialog and never choke up and get emotional is a win for me. It’s a bit of victory. But then during the last 24 hours, I’ve been enthusiastic about it extra, and a bizarre factor occurred. I used to be with my girlfriend and we have been watching the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony on TV. Duran Duran was on and I used to be like, ‘Ah, fuck, I used to learn those songs when I was a kid. I saw them on stage and wondered, where’s Andy Taylor and why have they got this different man in right here?! Then it was like, ‘Andy Taylor is suffering from stage four prostate cancer and is unable to make it.’ My life is form of like that. There are lots of people who’ve it. There are lots of people who’re like, ‘Where do you go?’ You can’t discuss to a therapist. You can solely actually discuss to somebody who’s going by means of it.
I simply received my six-month take a look at, and it got here again at zero. I used to be like, ‘Fuck yeah!’ That’s the most effective I can really feel for the remainder of my life. Every day I get nearer to that take a look at is like, ‘Fuck man, is this going to be the time when the number is going to go up and I’m going to the subsequent factor, no matter that’s?’ I already went by means of some ache and sh**. And I’m persevering with to undergo like, some loopy sh**.
How did you discover out you have been sick?
I went to get life insurance coverage however my PSA numbers have been up. I couldn’t get it. They wouldn’t insure me. At first, the quantity was very low — like one-point-something. I watched it over the course of a yr and a half, and it stored elevating additional. Eventually, they did a biopsy and came upon I had most cancers, in order that they took my prostate out. I had been considering, properly, as a result of they’re watching it and let it get up to now, perhaps it’s not that massive of a deal. I blame myself. I ought to have mentioned, ‘my numbers are elevated and what does that really mean?’ I ought to have taken it extra significantly. I ought to have seemed into alternate remedy as an alternative of getting sucked into probably the most disgusting, capitalistic machine on the face of the planet: the medical institution.
Now I’m within the state of affairs that I’m in, which is, maintain your breath for six months. It’s not a superb one and never one which I’m comfortable about. I’m simply attempting to seize ahold of the reins. It’s gonna be an extended journey, I hope. My dad died in his early 70s from most cancers and my mother died from most cancers in her 40s. Split the distinction to 65 and I’ve received 10 years. I’m attempting to get to the 100-song mark — I’ve some targets now. Songwriting has change into a catharsis for me. Back to the unique query, how do I discover the time? That’s all I’ve received, is time
How have been you capable of exit and play arenas with Rage this summer time?
Two months earlier than the tour, I had surgical procedure and my medical doctors mentioned I wasn’t going to be prepared. That was brutal. I might be on stage taking a look at my amp in tears. Then you simply type of flip round and suck it up. Because of Zack’s harm, we had deliberate these little video interstitials that got here in between blocks of songs. We have been meant to go on stage, play some songs, go off stage, and on to the interstitials for a couple of minutes. It was seamless. Then he received damage and we couldn’t go away the stage. So through the interstitials, we’re simply sitting there. That was surreal. I might typically sit down and attempt to not take into consideration sure issues. It was bizarre. I stored it to myself all through the touring we did and it was brutal.
Did your bandmates know?
Based on the movies from these exhibits, the performances, and the opinions, nobody would ever have suspected something was mistaken.
That’s the way in which it went down. You can nonetheless be in nice form. When I received my bodily, my physician mentioned I used to be in the most effective form of any 50-year-old he’d ever seen there. There’s loads of individuals which are in nice form which have most cancers. And I’m hoping to proceed so long as I will be that. I work out religiously, and I attempt my hardest to remain in form. I’m nonetheless very happy with who I’m. When I first received recognized, it fucked with me on that degree. But now I’m beginning to really feel this degree of, ‘I’m going to be the fittest motherfucker with most cancers that’s 54 that you simply’ve ever fucking seen in your life.’
That’s the most effective and solely means to have a look at it.
Just attempt to see how good I can do in opposition to that adversary, you recognize? The darkish passenger. It’s robust, man, however I’ve an excellent assist system. I’m associates with Lance Armstrong, and he gave me some nice recommendation that in all probability goes to increase my life.
The glass is half-full. That’s the fantastic thing about songwriting and bass enjoying. When my mother was sick, that’s after I realized the best way to play bass. When I used to be on stage with Rage, there have been instances that I wasn’t enthusiastic about most cancers for moments. When I play in 7D7D with Mathias within the studio, I don’t care what we’re doing. I’m going right into a trance, and I simply utterly overlook about it. And it’s so stunning. When I get up within the morning, it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s a brand new day. Dope!’ Then it’s like, ‘Oh fuck, I have cancer’ and you may’t cease it. It places a darkish cloud on the day. When I’m going jam with Mathias, I simply tune out and it feels so good. Music has at all times been there within the hardest of instances.
It’s simple to inform with the power of the primary singles.
I received performed into the fucking largest offender on planet Earth. You can have a look at a rustic of Americans the place lots of people don’t have insurance coverage. And then you may take a look at a number of the billionaires. And to me, that’s it. It’s not a joke. It makes me very, very, very offended. I really feel offended by it on a excessive degree.
But what made the Rage tour so pressing was the charity aspect the band established. Few bands are as open about the place its charitable donations go.
It was an attractive factor. There are a variety of issues that occurred on that tour that have been wonderful. That display screen … earlier than we went on that tour, I used to be considering, ‘Fuck that screen. Let’s simply play with a fucking backdrop.’ Then Zack received damage and it turned a really great tool. In Canada, it mentioned how indigenous ladies usually tend to be raped than different ladies. We had the information and figures up on the stage. It was a strong software.
How did 7D7D spark that inventive fireplace in you?
I wrote a document’s price of fabric. Mathias and I wished to jot down 10 songs. Mathias’ neighbor is Ben Harper and he received into it. That really was empowering, as a result of right here’s a man that comes from a special style, however one which I nonetheless respect, and he likes it. It was like, ‘Cool! Not everyone is going to hate it.’ Maybe I’ll be capable to play golf equipment at some point. I simply need to have the ability to get to love a spot in my life the place I can go play golf equipment and folks may come to the membership to see us play.
How many songs do you’ve gotten prepared?
We haven’t hit 20, however we’re shut. I’m going to get Logic and discover ways to use it. Then simply get 100 songs finished. I need to be like, ‘Fuck yeah, I wrote 100 songs.’ I simply go in [to record] with nothing and get impressed by Mathias’ weird-ass drumming and construct on the spot. Like, we ought to be leaving right here with a music that’s finished. Tom Morello is the king of that. When we received along with Rage to jot down our demo tape [in 1992], we have been like, ‘Fuck that. We’re making a document.’
Based on every thing you’re going by means of, it looks as if this razor-sharp focus is supplying you with a constructive sense of goal.
It feels that means. Everything occurs for a cause, and that’s what I at all times inform myself. That’s what lots of people say, however I actually consider that. It’s been laborious for me to think about most cancers and getting something good out of it. But there’s this little gentle on the finish of the tunnel that I’m seeing proper now the place I really feel like I can get some actually stable goodness from it in different areas. I hope there’s one one that reads this and is like, ‘Fuck, I need to get checked out’ once they discover out about it. It’s going to be OK as a result of they came upon about it, and for me, that’s adequate.
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