April 16th, 1996. What a great day! Evil Empire came out, some other stuff happened probably… Good times. The record hit Platinum in Canada, Triple Platinum in the States and Gold in the UK and landed the band a Grammy for Best Metal Performance for Tire Me!
There was a lot of worry at the time because the record had been delayed a couple times and people thought there was some internal strife in the band. Tom Morello explained why the album was a little late. “Different band members have their different interests that they’ve been pursuing, but principally, the main reason for the delay between records was trying to find the right combination of our very diverse influences that would make a record that we were all happy with and that was great. That was a long process”
That performance got them BANNED from Saturday Night Live in one of the weirdest moments in that shows history. Right before they went on, Rage’s roadies unfurled two American flags and hung them upside down off the amps. Why the upside down flags? Steve Forbes was a billionaire hosting the show and was fresh off a failed Republican Presidential Nomination Campaign (sound familiar?). Rage gave a minute by minute account of the whole incident, here. It’s fantastic.