Initially signed to a 3 album deal with Geffen Records in 1989, the band suffered under the accusation of being "Chili Peppers Wannabes" - as if a) That were true b) they Pepper were themselves all that original (not compared to Funkadelic) or c) There could only be ONE like The Highlander or something. At that point in the time the Peppers had just released their breakout cover of Stevie Wonder's "HIgher Ground", but were still two years away from their crossover smash "Under the Bridge", so having your own version of the Peppers might have been a great thing to have. It certainly worked out well for Incubus, who I once saw open for 24-7 Spyz when they were still an unabashed "Peppers Wannabe" band, but Geffen in their infinite stupidity decided to drop the band and break the contract because they didn't have an instant hit.
What Tom has said in subsequent interviews is that when they complained and pointed out that they had a multi-record deal the label told them "If You don't like it - you can SUE US with the money we know you don't have!"
-- Contracts in the music business are largely meaningless. Morello's pre-Rage band, Lock Up, released on album for Geffen Records in 1989 before being dropped. Morello said he went out of his way to ensure that the band's contract guaranteed that the act would be allowed to record at least two albums regardless of the results of the first. When Morello pointed this out after being cut, he said the label responded with this: " 'We know it's guaranteed but you don't have enough money to sue us.' That was my welcome to the music industry."
When RATM signed to Epic Records, Tom made sure there was a multi-million dollar penalty for early termination just to make sure he wouldn't go through the same thing he had with Lock Up again.
But here's the thing that entire "Peppers" noize, with Tom Morello on guitar and Brian Grillo on vocals Lock Up was frankly a lot BETTER than the Chili Peppers were particular on their first album (Anybody remember "Real Men Don't Kill Coyotes?") as can be seen when you look at their Official video for "Nothing New".
It's also pretty obvious from the song "Peacekeeper."
The upside of Geffen screwing over Lock Up is that it forced Tom to start a new band - and that group was RATM which as legend has it was inspired by Urban Dance Squad rewrote the book on angry political Rock - but it's still interesting the wonder what a second or even third Lock Up album might have sounded like.
At the time Tom was in Lock Up he was also a member of the Black Rock Coalition, like our current President Tom had an African Father and Anglo mother from middle America and had graduated from Princeton with a degree in Political Science. He wasn't very vocal at meetings probably because he was busy fighting with Geffen, but when I ran into him years later at a Dio show at the Hollywood House of Blues after he'd become a huge star - all we talked about was Lock Up.
Brian Grillo went on to form the Punk Band - Extra Fancy which was signed to Atlantic Records.