Tom Morello – Does Rock’N’Roll Kill Brain Cells?

In the latest Brain Cells installment, Rage Against The Machine’s prime axe-shredder Tom Morello takes the test and scores pretty poorly.


You performed on the soundtrack and briefly cameoed as a terrorist in Iron Man. Name the character played by Gwyneth Paltrow in the film
“No clue.”
Wrong. Pepper Pots
“Jon Favreau [Iron Man director] asked for some music for the film and was gracious enough to tuck me in there as a terrorist. I do all my own stunts by the way.”

What does it say on your baseball cap when you appear as a Guitar Boss in Guitar Hero 3?
“I’m not sure which cap I’m wearing. ‘Guerrilla’?”
Wrong. ‘Unite’

Rage Against The Machine got to Number One after a Facebook campaign was launched to scupper the 2009 X Factor winner. How many more copies did ‘Killing In The Name’ sell than Joe McElderry’s ‘The Climb’?
“We had the scoreboard up at a show in Finsbury Park. We sold just over 50,000 copies more.”
Correct. ‘Killing In The Name’ sold 502,000 to ‘The Climb’’s 450,000

What anti-Iraq War messages were visible on handmade placards when Audioslave played in Hollywood hours after Bush announced plans to invade Iraq in 2003?
“‘How many Iraqis per gallon?’ and ‘Somewhere in Texas, a village is missing an idiot’. I made those signs myself. I’d been marching around with them earlier in the day in San Francisco.”

In what colour is the American flag depicted on the front cover of your 2008 The Nightwatchman album ‘The Fabled City?’
“It was actually lifted from a piece of artwork called ‘The African American Flag’. The colours are black, red and green.”

Your new supergroup Street Sweeper Social Club features players known as “the wizard” on guitar, “kid lightning” on bass and “the claw” on drums. The Hooded Claw is the archenemy of which cartoon character?
“No idea.”
Wrong. Penelope Pitstop. Any idea what we’re talking about?
“I’ve heard of Penelope Pitstop but that’s digging a little far back.”

You performed a cover of U2’s ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ on The Axis Of Justice DVD in 2004. Which British band also had a Number Four cover version of ‘Where The Streets…’ in 1991?
“Oh, I couldn’t care less.”
Wrong. Pet Shop Boys
“Ha! Good for them.”

You recently played a gig at the Occupy London protest. Describe the piece of Banksy artwork on display
“A Monopoly scenario. I like the fact you can fill in your own squares. It’s a piece of art that keeps giving because everyone who writes on it becomes part of the art.”

You play guitar on the Prodigy song ‘One Man Army’ which appeared on the soundtrack to which film?
Spawn. It was a very unique collaboration. Every sound is made from electric guitar and bass. I sent Liam [Howlett] bits, he would send them back chopped up and I would send him other bits. We were never in the same country. It’s one of my favourite things I’ve been involved in.”

You were ranked 26th in Rolling Stone’s greatest guitarists of all time list. Who was the highest scoring Brit?
“No idea.”
Wrong. Eric Clapton, at four


Total score: 5/10
“That’s not so bad. My memory has clearly gone down by 50 per cent – I used to get 100 per cent in all my tests at Harvard!”

This article originally appeared in the December 3rd issue of NME

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