TOM MORELLO: A Man On A Mission

Interview By Leslie Rae Terhorst

OM MORELLO Is set to release the solo album, The Fabled City, September 30th, 2008 via Epic Records. The 11-song set is the anticipated follow up to the 2007 The Nightwatchman debut One Man Revolution. Now being billed as Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman, the album is the first release to bear the political and social activist’s birth name. The Fabled City was produced by Brendan O’Brien (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam) and features appearances by System Of A Down’s Serj Tankian and Shooter Jennings.

In addition to his career as a critically acclaimed solo artist, Tom Morello is a founding member and guitarist of the rock bands Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave. The two bands are responsible for multiple Grammy Awards and a combined 30 million albums sold worldwide. Widely known for his unique voice as a master electric guitarist, his compositions as Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman has been primarily based around the acoustic guitar. However, as his Myspace page firmly states, “You don’t have to be loud, son, to be heavy as shit” and the stories and sounds presented throughout the album showcases a depth and intelligence rarely heard in the modern musical climate surrounding it.


With more complex electric arrangements than displayed on One Man Revolution, The Fabled City is the synthesis of his groundbreaking work as an innovative rock guitarist and revolutionary acoustic troubadour. 

When describing The Fabled City, Morello stated, “My goal was to capture the energy and emotion of The Nightwatchman live shows. There is a much more rocking quality to this record, solos and riffs, mixed with darker acoustic songs. I think my singing has come a long way as well. I had a lot of devastating losses of family and friends during the past two years and The Fabled City is a search for hope through music and confronting injustice.”


In the spring of 2008, Morello launched The Justice Tour, a nationwide concert tour formed in celebration of the 60th Anniversary of The Human Rights Declaration. The tour, which featured performances from Perry Farrell, Slash, Dave Navarro, Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains, Wayne Kramer of the MC5, Sen-Dog of Cypress Hill and more, visited cities with a day dedicated to a local charity and a rock show to benefit that charity at each stop. The tour performances were an extension of the periodic residency he has presided over for the past two years at the intimate Los Angeles, CA venue, Hotel Cafe, and included live performances of many songs from The Fabled City. 


Recognized by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the “100 Greatest Guitar Players of All-Time (#26),” Morello is one of only two guitarists featured as a playable animated character in the overwhelmingly popular Activision video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. 


Tom Morello graduated from Harvard University with honors as a Political Science major and has been a widely recognized political activist throughout his career. In 2006, he was the recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award. Morello’s family has been a constant source of political and social inspiration as his great-uncle, Jomo Kenyatta was the first president of Kenya, and his mother, Mary Morello, founded Parents for Rock and Rap, an anti-censorship counterweight to Tipper Gore’s PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center). With System of A Down Serj Tankian, Morello formed Axis of Justice, an organization whose purpose is to bring together musicians, music fans, and grassroots political organizations to fight for social justice and hosts it inspired radio show, The Axis of Justice Radio Network.


As a producer, Morello has worked with The Crystal Method, Anti-Flag, Puff Daddy, and many more. He has also scored compositions for major motion pictures such as the 2008 hit Iron Man (where he can also be seen as an actor), The Matrix, Collateral, Charlie’s Angels, Talladega Nights, XXX: State of the Union and more.