Game-changing guitarist, unwavering social activist, and rock culture flag bearer Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine recently guested with cinematic scribe D.B. Weiss on the Knotfest series Screen Crusades to offer some personal insight to the April 8th Netflix feature, Metal Lords.
Written and produced by Weiss with fellow metal fan Tom Morello serving as the film's executive music producer, the project is directed by Peter Sollett and depicts a coming-of-age story in which, “Two kids want to start a heavy metal band in a high school where exactly two kids care about heavy metal.”
Speaking with journalist and cultural commentator Ryan J. Downey, it's that premise that begins the conversation with Weiss and Morello. The panel of comprised of Generation X'ers all recalled what it was like in high school to be in love with something that went against the mainstream. Each thought back to their days in high school and what it was like to have that one friend that dove into the culture of heavy metal with them - of course Morello scored the win there, reminding everyone that his heavy metal high school buddy was Adam Jones of Tool.
The conversation also spoke to the notion of credibility how making a film with such a cherished culture at the core involved a healthy degree of authenticity. Weiss shared that the idea was to create a well-balanced heavy metal meal that consisted of not only the greatest hits, but some of the deep cuts as well. He explained that it was important to not only connect with fans of the genre on a personal level, but to also maybe pique the interest of an audience that isn't familiar with the genre, but might be receptive to it.
As for metal cred, Morello has got it decades worth of it. He shared that his first 20-30 shows he went to in high school were all metal shows - gunning it in Adam Jones' pick up truck to see legends like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, and Ozzy. That kind of foundation further nurtured Morello's love for the sound and ultimately impacted his own creative identity.
Morello went on to share that among the biggest takeaways from working on the film was being able to reconnect with a wholly metal mindset. He explained that working with the actors was something particularly special in that he was able to convey the feeling of metal music, not just the look and aesthetic. For Morello, inhabiting a mental space of the lone metal fan versus the world is part of his core DNA and now, he gets to tap into that and help to share that feeling by way of a feature film.
The stars of the film in Jaeden Marttell, Isis Hainsworth and Adrian Greensmith also joined the conversation to offer their insights on the project. Martell emphasized not only the technical importance of getting the music right, but valued the performative aspect of metal. He added that both Weiss and Morello shared a reference list of metal performances they loved and talked about immersing himself in those performances to connect with the energy that fueled them.
As for Greensmith, he weighed in on the importance of just going for it when it comes to music. He confided that he was concerned about losing his voice during filming and asked if there were any techniques he could learn to better preserve his sound. What he found was that the only way to learn was to do. That resulted in throwing caution to the wind and screaming for hours, diving into the craft and experiencing rather than studying.
Hainsworth also weighed in revealing he interaction with Morello and her takeaways from the project. She explained that Morello gave her some notes that consisted of one main directive - head bang. Morello explained to the actress that when he neck was sore and her whole body ached, that's when she was doing it right.
Metal Lords begins streaming via Netflix April 8th.