How do you top a video in which you literally set yourself on fire?
If you’re Future User frontman/bassist Tim Commerford, you start by convincing a back surgeon to let cameras capture your spine surgery. Then you use that footage to make a video about the sorry state of American health care. And of course, you top it off by bringing in your Rage Against The Machine band mate Tom Morello and Rush pals Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson for guest-starring (and hilarious) turns as doctors. That’s the magic of “VooDoo,” the new video from electronic rock band Future User.
“I got the idea for the video after I ruptured a disc in my back and needed emergency surgery,” recalls Commerford. “As someone who often goes under the knife, I’ve always been a bit overwhelmed by the process, paperwork, approvals and costs. Luckily, I have insurance, but it got me thinking about all the people in this country who can’t afford medical treatment. I read an article recently that said there are over 40 million uninsured people living in the States, which is insane. I talked my doctor into letting me shoot the surgery, then explained the concept to Tom (Morello), who was totally into the idea. And of course, you can’t talk about universal health care without bringing Canada into the conversation, so I called Geddy (Lee) and Alex (Lifeson) and asked if they’d be part of it and was blown away when they said yes. And all that footage of my back being opened up is real, no joke.”
“VooDoo” sees Morello playing the bottom line-conscious Dr. Van Drusel, who explains to Commerford that, because Rage Against The Machine hasn’t played since 2011, his supplemental insurance has expired, requiring Commerford to cough up a $20,000 down payment—in cash—to cover the initial costs. After taking Commerford’s credit card for additional fees, he tells his patient, “your physical recovery will take 6-8 weeks. The financial recovery…hard to say.” Adding life-threatening insult to expensive injury, Van Drusel abandons Commerford mid-surgery. Fortunately, young Tim awakens in Canada, where Dr. Lee and Dr. Lifeson have been keeping a watchful eye. They explain the benefits of Canadian healthcare (“our hospitals are not for profit”) and set him straight.
“Timmy C is not just a great musician, but an artist in the truest sense of the word,” says Morello. “His amazing Future User videos are unlike any others in the history of music videos and I’m proud to work with him on his latest. It was a blast hanging out with him and one of our all-time favorite bands, Rush. This new video will likely get us all honorary medical degrees or at least a few comedic acting gigs. The video skewers our broken ‘for profit’ health care system with great wit and great rock.”
Of course, no Future User video would be complete without the presence of the mask-wielding character named S.W.I.M., which stands for Someone Who Isn't Me, an internet acronym often used in online forums. In “VooDoo,” S.W.I.M. holds a gun to Dr. Van Drusel’s head, making sure the operation doesn’t extend past the paid time limit. “VooDoo” follows previous Future User videos "Mountain Lion" (in which Commerford injected himself with steroids and then set himself ablaze. The clip, which premiered on Rolling Stone, features a cameo by Lance Armstrong) "Clockwork" (a polarizing clip about police militarization in which he waterboarded tennis great John McEnroe), “Supernatural” (about the NSA/mass surveillance) and “Medication Nation” (about the controversy surrounding genetically modified foods. “Supernatural” featured a cameo by comic book legend Stan Lee, who typically only appears in Marvel film blockbusters).
Commerford and Future User co-conspirator Jordan Tarlow call the band's sound prog-tronic, a mix of early prog rock and modern electronics. Commerford, who handles vocals and bass on the album and Tarlow, who does keys and programming, produced the album themselves. They were joined by drummer John Knox and Commerford enlisted a special guest to play guitar: Grammy-winning producer Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Rage Against The Machine). O'Brien plays guitar on every song on the album, but is not officially in the band. The album was mixed by Tom Syrowski (Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC).