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Arts & Entertainment

Bands and Collaboration

Tom Morello

Lesson time 16:38 min

Learn how to find the right bandmates to help grow your artistic vision and how to diffuse the inevitable band problems that surface from creative collaboration.

Tom Morello
Teaches Electric Guitar
In 26 lessons, Grammy-winning musician Tom Morello will teach you the guitar techniques, rhythms, and riffs that define his signature style.


Playing with other people is a wonderful way to expand your artistic experience and to get a lot better. There are many guitar players that, you know, never-- technically skilled wizards, and you see them on YouTube all the time-- who never leave their bedroom, maybe never even interact with another musician. And the real joy of playing music is when you play with others. And it will make you a lot better. Whatever your skill level, try to play with people who are a little bit better than you are. Or just play with anybody who wants to play, and have a great time making a racket. Any of that will make you a better player. [ELECTRIC GUITAR PLAYING] Let's talk now about collaborating with other musicians, an endeavor that can be great at helping yourself to grow as a musician and artist, that can lead to excellent music that is undreamt of by yourself, by working with other musicians, and a lot of fulfilling experiences. There's three scenarios that I like to talk about. One is a being a solo artist, one is being a band member, and one is being a hired gun. First of all, these are the differences. As a solo artist, your hand is on the wheel. Like, it is a singular vision. Take a Bob Dylan or a Bruce Springsteen. Like, you're the decider. You write the songs. You tell the musicians what to play. And it's a singular, pure vision of who you are and what you're trying to say. In a band, the advantage you get is chemistry. Each collaborator, if the chemistry is good, will get out of it more than they could ever bring into it. And with a band-- like with Rage Against The Machine, 1 plus 1 plus 1 plus 1 equaled 752. You know, we were able to do something together that none of us could do alone. How my riff ideas bounced off Zack's lyrical ideas, and Timmy's bass ideas, and Brad's unique way of looking at the drums created a chemistry that was ferociously potent and that, if any one of us had been the solo bandleader, we never would have made a band that was that good. The third scenario is being a hired gun, which I've done rarely in my career and I'd probably only do for Bruce Springsteen. And that's one where you listen, learn, and do, where you subsume yourself to the bandleader and go, my job is to help augment the bandleader's vision. And that takes a humility and a sideman point of view that, frankly, I'm uncomfortable with unless it's Bruce Springsteen. But it can be very, very fulfilling, and that people have long, and exciting, and wonderful careers as working musicians doing that. So how do you decide which one of those is right for you? If you have a burning desire to tell a particular story and it can only be told one way, then you need to be upfront about that with the people that you play with. And you need to say, this is my band, this is my vision, and if you're on board, you've got to be down with me being the decider. And don't leave any gray area for that. That's not how most bands start. But if you do f...

Strike a Chord

Tom Morello is a two-time Grammy winner and one of Rolling Stone’s "greatest guitarists of all time." In his first online guitar class, the co-founder of Rage Against the Machine will teach you the riffs, rhythms, and solos that launched his career and sent his music to the top of the charts. Tom will share his approach to making music that challenges the status quo and teach you how to create your own musical style.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

It helps me so much, especially on how to improve my speed on playing guitar and getting inspired to be an artist rather than just a musician.

The overall thing that I have learned is to think outside of the box, forget traditional guitar restraints and break through into new and uncharted territories.

That was fuckin sweet, can't wait to watch it again.

Wish this was around when I was younger. Tom was great to listen to.


A fellow student

Tom, this is one of my favorite lessons of the class. Collaboration is an important component of my day job and you nailed a lot of the benefits and hazards of it. I love the idea of sitting down and watching Spinal Tap as a prompt for a retrospective with your team. I also had a life changing moment when I sat down and listened to Never Mind the Bollocks for the first time. I cut my hair within a week and was in a band within a year (our drummer pounded on a weight bench in lieu of drums). Joy Division subsequently exposed me to the bass in a way that made sense to me and I've been playing ever since. Thanks for your candor!

Joe K.

"The five problems"...very insightful Tom... Being true to your self will always get you closer to what you want to say through your music... and share with members and listeners alike. "Nothing beats reality." ( Sixto Rodriguez.) I have always loved performing and the feelings and the thrill I experienced from the interaction with the listeners. Playing in a band can be one of the most rewarding experiences in your lifetime. I am getting back into playing after a long absence from playing out. I am excited to get back into music. I thank you Tom for sharing your knowledge with us! Cheers!

Marc T.

Okay, Tom's definitely one of the coolest teachers I've ever seen. Also a person of great wisdom! :)

Renuka N.

"I've realised over time that sometimes it's more important to be kind than to be right". Amen!

Jonathan S.

Tom's love for what he does is clear. But let me warn you, there's more than a good chance that you won't be able to make a good living at music. I had a lucky and fun, 10-year stretch where I played comedy songs in clubs and saved my money. But I also did database work, which I also enjoyed, although not full time. Musicians in my home town who are far, far superior to me have to work other jobs, often in music stores. This thing works best if you're obsessed and absolutely have to do it. It also means you may mess up your family life. But if you're not obsessed and just want a great hobby, that's fine, too. Fame isn't everything. In fact, it can be a pretty messed up thing.

Jonathan S.

His thing about Spinal Tap at 8:05 is precious. I agree. Do this! I could never figure out the band thing, so I work solo. But if I were to do a band again …


Maybe it's just me but I thought Lock Up was pretty good.....SBTWC deserves a second listen.