Rage Against The Machine’s Tim Commerford Reveals Cancer Battle—“Songwriting Has Become a Catharsis for Me”

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

“I’ve been dealing with some pretty serious shit,” Rage Against The Machine bassist Tim Commerford shared in a recent interview with Spin.

He revealed the private battle with cancer he’s been fighting this year. “Right before I was about to go on tour with Rage, I had my prostate removed, and I have prostate cancer.” He did not say when he was diagnosed but underwent surgery just before the band’s reunion tour kicked off earlier this year.

“My doctors said I wasn’t going to be ready,” Commerford said of the reunion show. “That was brutal. I would be on stage looking at my amp in tears. Then you just kind of turn around and suck it up.”

Only family, bandmates, and a handful of friends knew of the bassist’s diagnosis. He admitted he wasn’t planning on telling them of the illness until a last-minute discussion changed his mind. “I’ve been struggling and it’s hard,” he explained. “It might not sound like much, but to get through a conversation and not choke up and get emotional is a win for me. It’s a little victory.”

Commerford was inspired to share his struggle after watching the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. “Duran Duran was on and I was like, ‘Ah, fuck, I used to learn those songs when I was a kid.’ I saw them on stage and wondered, where’s Andy Taylor and why do they have this other guy in here?! Then it was like, ‘Andy Taylor is suffering from stage four prostate cancer and is unable to make it,’ he shared.

“My life is sort of like that. There are a lot of people who have it. There are a lot of people who are like, ‘Where do you go?’ You can’t talk to a therapist,” he continued. “You can only really talk to someone who’s going through it.”

While a six-month test “came back at zero,” he explained it’s the next follow-up test that has him waiting with bated breath. “Every day I get closer to that test is like, ‘Fuck man, is this going to be the time when the number is going to go up and I’m going to the next thing, whatever that is?,’” he told the outlet. “I already went through some pain and shit. And I’m continuing to go through like, some crazy shit.”

For now, Commerford describes himself as “just trying to grab ahold of the reins,” adding, “It’s gonna be a long journey, I hope.”

He continued, “My dad died in his early 70s from cancer and my mom died from cancer in her 40s. Split the difference to 65 and I’ve got 10 years. I’m trying to get to the 100-song mark—I have some goals now. Songwriting has become a catharsis for me.”

Photo by Astrida Valigorsky/Getty Images

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