1. How did The Last Internationale get started?
The Last Internationale started about 4 years ago when Delila and I met through mutual friends and we discovered that we both had the same affinity to old traditional folk music and roots music like blues. I haven’t met anyone else really in New York around my age that was so into this kind of music. So, naturally we just got together and started making music.Brad joined the band right after Thanksgiving dinner. We were at Morello’s house – his old bandmate, Tom Morello – and we told him we needed a drummer and he said, “Oh maybe Brad Wilk is available.” At first we thought he was joking, like ‘for real, Brad Wilk? He’s not going to join our band.’ He was like, “Hey, it doesn’t hurt to try!” so he sent him over a text and the next day Brad Wilk called us up and we started rehearsing together. The chemistry was perfect – we clicked, went into the studio maybe two weeks later and recorded an album in two weeks’ time with Brendan O’Brien and here we are!
2. You’re from New York City. Did your local music scene provide any influence or support?
Our guitar mentor – music mentor really – we learned a lot from him. Every time we go back there [New York] we always get together. He’s been a major support creatively for the band.
3. Who were your musical influences growing up?
The Beatles was huge! Later on, The Rolling Stones… Rage Against The Machine was my favorite band in high school. Actually, I grew up listening to a lot of hip hop. I listened to a lot of artists like Nas and Boogey Down Productions. Jay Z of course! A whole bunch of underground MCs as well. That’s how I guess I learned to write. Then in college, I really delved deep into traditional folk music and blues and it was kind of like a rebirth for me.
4. Your debut album will be released later this month. What was the recording process like?
Recording was great! We got to record with our favorite producer, Brendan O’Brien. He made things so much easier; he made it a comfortable environment, he got killer sounds and tones for the band. Recording with Brad Wilk was also a dream of mine. That came out – that was just so great and effortless. He laid down the groove and it was just so simple to follow that we cut most of the record live within less than two weeks’ time. It was incredible! I couldn’t be any happier with the album. I mean, everything came out great. I couldn’t even envision it being this way. It totally surpassed all my expectations.
5. Where did the album title/cover art come from?
“We Will Reign” is a song we wrote down in Nashville and we loved the title. We felt it was very fitting for what the band is trying to accomplish and the obstacles that we’re facing and what we’re trying to do not just as a band but also socially and politically. The actual cover, we hired a street artist named Gilf! She created that concept and the cover. As soon as we saw it we fell in love with it. It was completely unexpected and we didn’t think we would have a cover that cool and with subliminal messages all over the album so it’s definitely a refreshing piece of artwork to say the least. There’s hidden messages all over; on the back, on the inside of the album, it’s great!I don’t know if you know about this but we have Bill Ayers who’s doing the liner notes who’s part of the Weather Underground. He actually went underground in this country for over 20 years and he’s been a great inspiration for us politically and just to have him do the liner notes is a great honor in itself.
6. Did you get to give any input into the design of the album art?
I didn’t want to give anyone suggestions. When Gilf! asked what we’re looking for, I said ‘You know what? Listen to the album and whatever you come up with, just do what you feel like doing creatively. We don’t want to stiffen you in any way.’ So it was all her idea. Same thing with Bill Ayers when he did the liner notes, he asked us if there’s anything we wanted to be included and we said to just speak from the heart, as I know he will. I just don’t want to get in the way of any of that. I just want them to create freely without any outside interferences. We couldn’t have asked for anything better!
7. If you had to choose one of your songs to introduce to new fans, which song would it be and why?
I would have to say “Wanted Man”. For some reason, we’re all on that song right now. We’re about to do a music video for it, everybody loves that song. They love the whole album, but “Wanted Man” in particular has something very special about it. It’s got such a cool groove, the lyrics I love, the melody. Right now I’ve definitely got to say “Wanted Man”. If you ask me a week from now, I might say another song, but for right now it’s “Wanted Man”. (laughs)
8. What can fans expect from your Lollapalooza set?
Our sets are usually unpredictable. We don’t write a set list until right before we go on stage and even when we do go on stage we change the set list around. Even more than that, our sets are unpredictable in the sense that we give everything. That’s one thing that’s consistent – we always give 100% into our performances and what we do on stage and how we interact with the crowd of course depends on the people in attendance. We like to think of each show as a completely different experience. But what they should expect is that we’re definitely going to rock out and give everything we got.
9. Will you be watching other sets this weekend? Who are you looking forward to seeing?
We were just looking at the lineup and I’m pretty excited about Nas. I was born and raised in Queens so I really want to catch Nas. Outkast, I would love to see as well. In addition to that, of course we want to hit the South Side of Chicago and search for some real authentic blues. (laughs) We’ve passed through [Chicago] before but we didn’t get a chance to stay or really explore the city at all.
10. What can we expect from The Last Internationale for the rest of 2014?
As far as I’m concerned, I want to conquer the world. (laughs) The album comes out August, we’re going to tour in support of the album. November we’re going to be on tour in the 19th UK and Ireland in support of Robert Plant which is a hero of ours so that’s going to be super exciting. Other than that, we’re going to be on David Letterman on August 27th. We have a US tour coming up as well, a West Coast tour in September. The plan is to keep touring as much as possible and getting our name out there and taking it as high as we can. In addition to what we’re doing with our career and taking it as high as possible as I said before, our purpose and our intent of doing this is not just so people hear our music for the purpose of entertainment. We want to exact change in the world and make this world a much better place. Everything we’re doing and everything we have done is with that goal in mind.