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DO: Rage had a pretty unique relationship with its audience--you turned a lot of kids onto politics as well as music. What's the early response to Audioslave been like from your perspective?
TM: We've only played a handful of shows, but the audience's response has really been amazing, especially because at these shows we're playing entirely new music--we're playing our new record plus a cover song or two. One thing that's been interesting is that a lot of the fans in the audience are too young to have been Soundgarden or Rage Against the Machine fans; their introduction to Tom Morello, Chris Cornell, Brad Wilk and Timmy C. is Audioslave, and that's really pretty great. It's not like some oldies-revival act playing the county-fair circuit.
DO: Are you getting the chance to indulge parts of your musical personality you didn't get to in Rage? Parts that may have been overshadowed by that band's politics?
TM: No, I don't think that the political content ever left other elements underappreciated. I think that each band has just followed its own path. For me, as a political activist as well as a guitar player, it's presented a brand-new opportunity in forming Axis of Justice with System of a Down's Serj Tankian. Pouring my political energies into that, we've basically followed through on the promises made by Rage Against the Machine; our motto with Axis of Justice is, if you don't like what you see on the news, then make news of your own. With Rage Against the Machine I think that we did a fine job of encouraging and inspiring people to find out more and to act on their own behalf, and with Axis of Justice we are acting on our own behalf in fighting for social justice.
DO: What about Audioslave's instant profile? The experience has been totally unlike a typical new band's.
TM: I do not take it for granted. There's not a lot of precedent for artists merging from two genre-defining bands and getting the start that Audioslave has. Already, the Audioslave record had sold more copies than the Chris Cornell solo record and the last Rage Against the Machine record put together, you know? That's something that none of us take for granted; the special chemistry and musical relationship that the four of us share is lightning striking twice, and we're very appreciative of that.