Tom Morello is back with his latest solo album, The Atlas Underground Fire. Eleven of the record's 12 tracks feature a diverse cast of contributing artists that include Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Chris Stapleton, Damian Marley, Bring Me The Horizon, Phantogram, Mike Posner, grandson, Refused, and more.
While the outcome is a collection of songs that has fans dancing to electro-pop one minute and then headbanging to a cover of AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" the next, The Atlas Underground Fire means much more to Morello than just flexing his creative muscle.
“This record was less a creative endeavor; it was more an antidepressant,” the guitar virtuoso said in a recent interview with NME. “There are some records where it’s like, ‘Let’s go and make music about Guatemalan labour unions’, but this was more, ‘I don’t know if I can make it through the day.’”
“This rock’n’roll pen pal community was a real lifeline," he continued, referring to the diverse cast of musicians featured on the album. "Every day had started to feel exactly the same but getting to work with different artists of different genres from all over the world, it provided an oasis in a time of great fear and anxiety. This record was an excuse to settle the demons in my brain down during a time where there were plenty of them.”
While there are politically charged songs on the album ("Save Our Souls," "Hold The Line"), it has a much different feel than Morello's previous work. But that doesn't make it less authentic. “The reason why I’ve made political records in the past is because that was authentic; my heart and my head wanted to use music as a battering ram for social justice,” he explained. “This record is authentic because I was trying to find connection and hope in a time that occasionally felt hopeless. At the end of the day, though, it’s a record that I hope is going to kick your ass.”
Listen to The Atlas Underground Fire below.