Chicago – When I was a teenager, Rage Against the Machine was a band that represented more than music; it was a symbol of the power that each of us hold within ourselves to change the world, stand up for what you believe in, and to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Sure, they weren’t the first band to do this. Generations before us had folk music and the protest songs of the 60s and 70s. Then punk music and hip-hop came along. And now, well, now there is The Last Internationale!
Five years ago, New Yorkers Delila Paz and Edgey Pires formed The Last Internationale with the belief that making music goes hand in hand with being socially and politically conscious. They’ve written songs about fighting for the rights of prisoners, immigrants, and Native Americans. They were also outspoken about the death of Trayvon Martin and acquittal of George Zimmerman. Former Weather Underground member, political activist, and education reformer Bill Ayers described The Last Internationale as “power-house rebel-rockers” holding the torch of social and political activism “with renewed confidence and a sparkling fresh spirit.”
Last September BestNewBands discovered The Last Internationale and spoke with Delila and Edgey about L.A. Reid personally signing them to Epic Records. Soon after, Delila and Edgey also gained the attention of Tom Morello. When the two were in need of a drummer to replace former member Fernando Silva, Morello hooked them up with his friend and former Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk. The three formed an instant connection and immediately began working with Brendan O’Brien on their debut album, We Will Reign.
Earlier this month, I caught the trio’s spectacular performance at Lollapalooza and had a quick chat with TLI about their music, being socially responsible, and We Will Reign.
Sarah Hess: First of all, I saw you guys perform today. I had never seen you live before. You blew my mind!
Delila Paz: Thank you!
Brad Wilk: Wait, wait, we didn’t perform yet today. (Everyone laughs)
Sarah Hess: What artists have inspired you?
Brad Wilk: I’m inspired by these two first and foremost.
Edgey Pires: We inspire each other!
SH: You’ve been described as “dark and edgy,” “raw and real.” How do you feel about this?
Edgey Pires: It’s accurate. (Laughs)
Delila Paz: It’s a compliment, I think.
SH: Delila and Edgey, you guys are very socially responsible and politically active in your own way. Two-part question here: 1- What inspired this? 2- I know you’ve worked musically with Tom Morello, but have you also worked with him in his social and political campaigning?
EP: No, not really. Tom is a mentor to Delila and me, and he’s the one who hooked us up with Brad, so he’s very valuable in that respect… It’s a social imperative. It’s something you have to do. I mean there’s suffering, misery in the world, and oppression. How could you not speak up against it?
SH: We have to talk about your just-released album, We Will Reign. Tell me all about it!
BW: Go buy it! You’ll love it! (Laughs) Brendan O’Brien produced it and Edgey played guitar on it and Delila sang on it and I play drums. (Laughs) But we’re really excited about it. We’ve been sitting on it for a few months. We’re just starting to play shows and everything is starting to culminate and come together. We’re excited to get it out!
SH: Today you played a song called “Fire.” What inspired that song?
DP: That came out of putting gear away. We were on a tour, we were loading gear into the van, and I started humming that song. It started as a working song.
SH: Well, that’s how rock ‘n’ roll started!
EP: And Mahalia!
DP: Oh yeah, and Mahalia Jackson. Also, at the same time I was listening to a lot of Mahalia Jackson. She’s the greatest gospel singer ever!
SH: You guys covered a folk song today.
SH: Do you cover “Cod’ine” a lot?
EP: We weren’t supposed to today, but my amp blew out. (Laughs)
BW: I’m glad we did, but I’m not happy your amp blew out though.
I was happy to have heard it, as well. Delila’s sultry and powerful vocals, Edgey’s killer guitar riffs, and Brian’s drumming make for some amazing and inspiring music! You should take a listen to TLI, too. Head over to iTunes to purchase We Will Reign and click HERE for tour dates. The Last Internationale will be touring the United States and Europe throughout the Fall. This includes opening for the legendary Robert Plant, per his request. They’ll also be performing on Letterman this Wednesday, August 27, so set your DVRs!
After attending The School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Sarah went on to study education at Dominican University, earning a degree in history. When not teaching, writing, or taking in a show, she is most likely to be found with a camera to her eye or hanging out in a darkroom.
You can follow Sarah Hess on twitter at @Sarahhasanh and view her music photography on her website: smhimaging.com.