Rage Against the Machine have kind of a funny story about the aftermath of their first Coachella performance. You see, after headlining the inaugural Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 1999, they had to give back half the payment they received for playing.
That’s what Rage guitarist, solo artist and frequent collaborator Tom Morello recalled in a recent chat with Tuna on Toast With Stryker, former KROQ DJ Ted Stryker’s podcast.
Listen to the interview toward the bottom of this post.
“Coachella was so unsuccessful they asked for half the money back,” Morello bluntly stated of what became of their guarantee from the fest’s first official foray.
It came six years after Pearl Jam played the festival site in 1993 in a concert booked by promoter Goldenvoice during that band’s battle with Ticketmaster. That eventually led to the annual Coachella on the grounds of the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif.
Now, of course, Coachella has become a hugely successful endeavor for all involved. But things didn’t go quite as planned at that first festival. So why would Rage return part of their fee? Well, as the guitarist relayed, it’s because they and the promoter had a history together.
“Because [we] were friends,” Morello explained. “It was Goldenvoice! They had booked [pre-Rage Against the Machine Morello band] Lock Up shows. They had booked every back-alley show from day one. They were the punk rock promoters. They were just like bros.”
Rage Against the Machine co-headlined the first Coachella with Tool and Beck on Oct. 9-10, 1999, as UCR remembered. Though the event was well-received by critics and fans, ticket sales fell dramatically short of expectations. As such, Goldenvoice lost an estimated $850,000.
But Morello isn’t bitter about it. Still, if there’s one thing he could change about the incident, perhaps Rage Against the Machine could have sought a stake in the fest in exchange.
“We should have asked for a piece of the festival,” Morello quipped. “That’s what we should have done. I’m not much of a businessman.”
Below, read a synopsis of Stryker’s Oct. 4 conversation with the Rage rocker. The full podcast episode appears underneath it.
Tom Morello joins Stryker to discuss his new album, ‘The Atlas Underground Fire.’ In this Tom Morello interview, they also discuss his time at Harvard, his job as a juggler in the Renaissance fair, his first rock star sighting in Los Angeles, and the time when Tom was in his band Lock Up [when] he dressed up as Dave Navarro from Jane’s Addiction and actually played [with] Jane’s to fool the crowd. In addition, Tom talks about the ONE game show he WOULD host! He also describes his van ride with Rick Rubin to see Chris Cornell and how many shows Rage Against the Machine played before they got their record deal. Tom also reveals how the DJ Protohype ended up on his radar, and how three generations of Morellos appear on his album along with Bring Me the Horizon and grandson.
Tom Morello Talks to the Tuna on Toast With Stryker Podcast – Oct. 4, 2021
2021 U.S. Rock + Metal Festivals