Nobody likes a hypocrite. There is something inherently vile about those who preach one message while practicing another. It’s irritating but sadly expected when we see these behaviors in politicians and religious leaders. However, coming from musicians who cultivate certain identities to sell an image, it’s enough to make your blood boil.
In the early 1990s, Rage Against The Machine and Suicidal Tendencies shared the stage together throughout several tours, first with Rage as a support act and the other way around a year later. Although everything seemed fine, legend has it that at some point that Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello started running his mouth by calling Suicidal Tendencies “old” in interviews. Bristling at the disrespect, Suicidal Tendencies main man Mike Muir retaliated.
When Rage Against The Machine took the stage during the Philadelphia stop of the Lollapalooza 1993 tour, the members appeared naked with duct tape over their mouths and letters painted on each members’ torso that spelled out PMRC [acronym of Parents Music Resource Center, the notorious committee responsible for Parental Advisory stickers on records]. In an act of protest, they stood in silence for 15 minutes while their instruments fed back. The incident garnered Rage Against The Machine large-scale publicity, a fact that was not lost on the Suicidal Tendencies frontman who told Spin later that year: “There’s a fine line between making a political statement and trying to add to your financial statement Why is it [that reports of the P.M.RC. Philly incident were] in every paper in the industry? ‘Because we sent a press release out’ And who the fuck fucked with you? Oh, the P.M.RC.? They don’t even fuckin’ exist in the real world anymore.”
Seething with righteous indignation, Muir took the feud a step further in 1994 when Suicidal Tendencies offshoot band Infectious Grooves released the track “Do What I Tell Ya” on their Groove Family Cyco album. With guitar licks mocking Morello and lyrics such as: “Now you’re making your political statement / Or are you trying to add to your financial statement / And let’s not forget evil corporations / Then why is Sony the sponsor of your presentation?” the target is readily obvious to anyone familiar with Rage Against The Machine even if the band is not mentioned by name.
Muir told the Los Angeles Times: “Here’s a band talking about how evil corporations are, and they’re signed with one of the biggest corporations in the world. If they wanted to be independent, why didn’t they put their records out on an independent label?” The irony was not lost on the publication, who noted that Groove Family Cyco was released by Epic Records, also a subsidiary of Sony. To Muir, this was not a conflicting idea given the fact that Infectious Grooves were not an overtly anti-corporate band. His issue was strictly with what he viewed as cynical hypocrisy. Alan Mintz, Sony’s West Coast vice president, said at the time “I believe in peace, love and understanding as much as the next guy, but I’m not writing the lyrics. I don’t think there are any Sony problems with this, and we don’t censor our artists.”
Muir harbored this grudge for the next few decades, although with a much cooler tone. He said to the Cleveland Scene in 2008: “I just think [RAGE] said something about us — Tom [Morello, the RAGE guitarist], you know? So I said what I thought. I think a lot of times, little nerdy kids get an audience, and they like the fact that they can say things, and they think people really care. And to me, that’s just totally fake. Like, dude, are they really a groundbreaking political band if Sony’s throwing all kinds of money at it?”
Rage Against The Machine have never addressed the feud and Suicidal Tendencies have since toured with the band. In 2022, Infectious Grooves bassist Robert Trujillo posted a backstage photo of himself with Rage bassist Tim Commerford on Instagram, writing: “Timmy C killed it last night! So nice to catch up w/ the mighty groove master, and his tribe. Madison Square Garden got a funkified Ass kickin’ (in the best way) Rage throwin down as they always do! I was so proud of these dudes last night, they did there first ever tour opening for Suicidal just before the release of their first record in Europe, and here they are 30 years later selling out 5 shows at The Garden.”