Anyone who’s been alive for the last twenty-five years likely knows who Rage Against the Machine is. The politically fueled Los Angeles act popped up in 1991 and ever since, has made an influential impact when it comes to political awareness in popular music.
Today, the official Rage Against the Machine lineup has disbanded. However, the three instrumentalists of the band have teamed up with Cypress Hill’s B-Real and Public Enemy’s Chuck D to form the supergroup “Prophets of Rage.” Meanwhile, bassist Tim Commerford has decided to pursue endeavors outside — but alongside — Rage Against the Machine.
Wakrat, named after drummer Mathias Wakrat, is Commerford’s latest project. Wakrat delivers a fresh take on the noticeably stale genre of modern punk rock, fusing it with electronic influences, odd time signatures, and a blatantly political message. In an interview with Anti-Media, Commerford elaborated on what makes Wakrat’s style unique and innovative.
“I really feel like that’s what makes us a new take on punk rock […] I do love old punk, whether it be The Minute Men, Fugazi, Helmet, Sex Pistols, The Clash, Minor Threat, the Bad Brains… That stuff was huge in my life in shaping who I am as a musician, but I’m really proud that we are not that. We’ve incorporated that into our music […] We love The Prodigy, I always have loved them and I always will, and so do Mathias and Laurent. Our music has got that in there. I hear that sort of electronic vibe in his [Laurent’s] guitar playing. It sounds like broken down loops and I dig it.”
The band’s singles “Generation Fucked” and “Knucklehead” wholeheartedly embody Commerford’s characterization of their music.
In addition to pushing musical boundaries, Wakrat has also taken to political activism to spread their message through a medium outside of music. On July 26, 2016, a group of activists led by Commerford and the rest of the band marched onto London’s Parliament Square, declaring it a new republic — the Republic of Wakrat.
Commerford recalls the events of the march on Parliament Square:
“We got a double decker bus and we posted loud and proud on both sides of that bus ‘Generation Fucked.’ […] Looking out the window, I saw people seeing that. I saw mothers — even though they’re a little less scared of the f-word there — I saw mothers hiding their kid’s faces from seeing it. And I love that kind of stuff,” Commerford states.
“It was great to get into a bus with a bunch of like-minded folks and roll through London with that written on the side, and ultimately arrive at Parliament Square […] That area is sort of sacred politically there. So we got our flag — the flag of Wakrat — and we went onto the grass. Right away, the police came and said ‘you can’t do this.’ […] There were a bunch of people that joined us and we spoke up […] We planted the flag of Wakrat in there and declared it [The Republic of Wakrat]. It was fucking cool, it was punk rock, and it’s what’s really needed…”
Footage of the march on Parliament Square was used in Wakrat’s “Generation Fucked” video, a video Commerford feels is reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine’s collaboration with director Michael Moore for “Sleep Now in the Fire.”
The Republic of Wakrat’s constitution is simple and to-the-point. With the primary intention of exposing the ugliness and evils of the world’s modern empires, it reads:
“This new state welcomes everyone of all ethnicities, backgrounds, genders, generations, sexualities dis/abilities and faiths and offers a fresh alternative to the current system — we stand for equality and free movement.”
Commerford explains that the Republic of Wakrat is meant to be a haven for those who are fed up with the current elitism and oppression within the current political system ─ and his list of reasons is not short.
“It’s the 1% controlling the 99%. It’s the building walls and borders. It’s the war on drugs. It’s the ‘drugs are a crime’ rather than ‘drugs are a sickness.’ It’s all about hating Muslims. It’s all about the internet and its evil parties. It’s prisons filled with black and latinos in America, even here over in England […] We have racists running for president, we have suicide bombings every day […] people spend their days staring at their cell phone instead of looking around at the world they live in and trying to make it a better place.”
The actions of Tim Commerford and Wakrat are, indeed, necessary — not particularly in the sense that they are actively speaking against an oppressive system, but the fact they are using music as a tool of unification amongst those who — in the long run — want the same thing. This is an idea that seems to be drowned out among many socially and politically active people, as many of us find ourselves at the mercy of egotism, consumed by conviction, and plagued with seemingly relentless anger that follows the realization we are all being lied to and taken advantage of. Anger and spite are easy, knee-jerk reactions, but such animosity bleeds into the “activist community,” creating dissonance amongst individuals who could otherwise work together to accomplish greatness.
It is not us against each other. It is us against them.
Learn more about the Republic of Wakrat here.
Message in the Music Part 1: What Tool Teaches Us About Humanity
Message in the Music Part 2: System of a Down Destroys the American War Machine
(Originally on The AntiMedia.org)