In a new interview with Rolling Stone, guitarist Tom Morello compares Rage Against The Machine to the ring in Lord of the Rings. Given the epic, yearslong saga that began with a reunion announcement in 2019, a thwarted tour in 2020, the long-awaited tour cast in doubt by the protagonist’s injury in battle, the ultimate cancellation of dozens of worldwide tour dates, and a cliffhanger ending, the whole thing does sound ripe for a Peter Jackson film adaptation.

The interview amounted to a roughly 3,000-word grilling with journalist Andy Greene attempting to claw out any conclusive statement from Morello on the state of Rage to no avail. Two shows into Rage Against The Machine’s long-awaited Public Service Announcement Tour reunion last summer, frontman Zack de la Rocha tore his Achilles tendon while performing in Chicago. The band played on, staging 17 more concerts with de la Rocha still turning in galvanizing performances while seated on a road case.

As the band wrapped up the first North American leg of the tour in August with a sold-out five-night run at Madison Square Garden, RATM canceled a European leg per the advice of de la Rocha’s doctors. Two months later, the band scrapped its remaining North American tour dates as the singer continued to recover. Since then, fans have heard nothing on the state of Rage Against The Machine, a familiar feeling to those who waited through an 11-year live hiatus.

Asked whether Zack’s recovery means a return to touring, Morello’s answer wasn’t exactly straightforward.

“We’ll see,” he said. “If there is to be any more shows, we will announce it as a band. I don’t know. I know as much as you do, honestly. Right now we’re in a time of healing. I’m in a time of making music and doing a bunch of stuff.”

From that moment on, Greene tried every possible question configuration to get a straight answer out of Morello on the status of Rage Against The Machine. Asked point-blank if RATM is on hiatus and what term Morello would use for the current status of the band, he replied,

There is no term. Rage Against the Machine is like the ring in Lord of the Rings. It drives men mad. It drives journalists mad. It drives record industry people mad. They want it. They want the thing, and they’re driven mad. If there are Rage shows, if there are not Rage shows, you’ll hear from the band. I do not know. When there is news, it will come from a collective statement from the band. There is no news.

In trying to hunt down a definitive comment, Greene asked about how Morello, de la Rocha, bassist Tim Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk communicate with each other these days. Unsurprisingly, given the direction of this interview and the band’s sporadic public communications over the past decade, the answer was less than straightforward.

“The conversations I’ve had with band members since the tour have been about life,” Morello said when asked if he has talked to de la Rocha about his recovery. “It’s hard for me to explain. I understand that in this interview, it’s at the top of your list, your Lord of the Rings check list. It’s hard to explain, but when you’re in it, it’s never been like that. It’s a band that made three albums of new material, that tours very intermittently. It’s a unicorn in a way. Much of the time, there’s not a position the band is in. … There’s nothing internal in our discussions that says either yes or no.”

Considering Morello is as much in the dark as the band’s generations of fans and thousands of would-be ticketholders, can’t he just call up de la Rocha today and ask if they’re still a band?

“I know the trajectory of the healing and whatnot. But it’s so hard to describe this, dude,” Morello said, his frustrations seemingly mounting. “Nineteen shows in 11 years. Three albums in 30 years. It’s different than any other situation you’ve ever interviewed. It has a very, very different dynamic. All I can say is the love I have for those dudes and that music is complete. The honor that it is, or those times we have been onstage together, is like nothing else.”

In a last-ditch attempt to reformulate the question yet again, Greene queried “On the Wikipedia page for Rage, should it say Rage ‘are a band’ or Rage ‘were a band?'”

“[Big laugh] I would refer to the official Rage Against the Machine statement on that point, in which there’s none! [Laughs]” Morello said in closing.

Check out the full interview, which also touches on Rage Against The Machine’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nomination, ticket prices, and more, over on Rolling Stone.