As a guitarist best known for his brain-bending technique and signature electric sound, Tom Morello surprised many when he debuted his solo folk project, the Nightwatchman, in 2003. After the rock radio bombast of Audioslave and the rap rock politicking of Rage Against the Machine, Morello unleashed his inner Billy Bragg, penning minimal activist anthems under the adopted persona and releasing his first folk record in 2007 (One Man Revolution).
Since then, the L.A. transplant has thrown himself into the Nightwatchman, releasing albums in 2008, 2011, and his most recent, World Wide Rebel Songs, this week. The album isn’t just the project’s first to feature a full band and Morello’s immediately identifiable electric guitar solos, it also has Morello’s family in on the revolution:
“The cover is an homage to a Phil Ochs’ live record, Gunfight at Carnegie Hall,” explains Morello. “The moll on the cover is actually my wife. She was like, ‘I’m not going to letting any other bitch get on the cover of your record. You’re going to get some 20 year-old tart on the cover.’ And was like, ‘You can do it! Get up there!’ And now that it’s on billboards, she’s cringing, her friends are teasing her, and I think she’s wishing it was a 20 year-old tart.”