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Street Sweeper Social Club’s Tom Morello and Boots Riley on Their Cosmic Collision

“When I wrote original batch of music, the songs felt kick ass to me,” former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello said about his new band, Street Sweeper Social Club. “Boots [Riley] picked ones he could rhyme over. The choruses aim for the soccer stadiums, with a great deal of wit in the lyrics.”

Morello candidly revealed to Noisecreep that he isn’t trying to pander to fans of his previous work, saying, “I don’t think about it. The second you make music to please a demographic, you’re lost as an artist. I was in a band before Rage that tried to write songs that would be on the radio and it didn’t work. I decided after that, I would never make music I didn’t love!”

Morello and Riley, of Oakland political hip-hop group The Coup, hooked up in 2003, with Riley saying, “Out of the blue, he called me up to ask me to be on ‘Tell Us the Truth’ tour, with him performing as The Nightwatchman with Steve Earle. We kicked it for four to five weeks and he seemed like a pushover, someone I could easily manipulate, so we hung out more.” Of course, Riley tucked his tongue in his cheek with that statement and it’s painfully apparent that he and Morello have a genuine affinity. “I was a fan of The Coup and I learned the greatness of his satirical lyrics and thought the world should know more about them,” Morello admitted. “When Audioslave broke up, we had dinner and I didn’t give him a choice. I said, ‘We’re in a band called Street Sweeper Social Club’ and gave him a cassette tape of 24 song ideas and said, ‘Here’s the music. You’ll write lyrics and we’ll make a record.’”

“I haven’t said ‘yes’ yet,” Riley interjected with a wink and a smile. Morello also said. “We have a lot of fun.” While Morello’s trademark, socially aware angle is present in the music, he contends, “It’s not dry, like a college lecture. At our shows, we have a good time: before, during and after.”

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