VIDEO: Steve Nowicki Whips Out His Guitar to Explain Rocker Tom Morello’s Unique Genius

Staffer also opens up about his sleepwalking, night screaming, and dreams about Howard

February 23, 2021

Howard took a few moments Tuesday morning to excitedly announce rocker, guitar virtuoso, and SiriusXM’s own One Man Revolution host Tom Morello was just a day away from visiting the Stern Show. The Harvard-educated Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, and Prophets of Rage axe man is widely considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, not only for his blistering riffs and impressive technical acumen but also for the innovate ways he’s used his instrument to create previously unimaginable sounds.

“The guy is an incredible musician,” Howard said, citing as evidence the time Morello teamed up with Bruce Springsteen at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to bring down the house with “The Ghost of Tom Joad” (below).

To give listeners a better understanding of Morello’s unprecedented techniques and game-changing contributions to rock ‘n’ roll, Howard called upon staffer and resident guitar expert Steve Nowicki for a quick demonstration.

He first showed off Tom’s patented “kill switch” technique, heard on Rage Against the Machine tracks like “Bulls on Parade,” which involves flipping a guitar toggle back and forth to create a unique effect. “He makes it sound like a record scratch … like a D.J.,” Steve said while demoing the effect on his own guitar.

Next, Steve illustrated Morello’s “helicopter” sound, as heard in the intro to Audioslave’s “Cochise.” “I can’t do that one that well, you need to kind of fuck with the effects, [but] he does this other thing—you know the ‘90s hip hop guys, it almost sounds like a Theremin?” Steve said as he gave the Theramin effect a try. “It almost sounds like Dr. Dre shit.”

“Tom started in the ‘80s,” Nowicki explained. “Everyone was doing the Eddie Van Halen thing. He was the uncool kid with all the lame stuff on it and he came up with all these sounds that no one had ever heard on guitar.”

Howard was so impressed by Steve’s guitar skills he floated the idea of the two of them forming a band. “I’d be the lead singer,” Howard said while crooning over some of Steve’s original riffs.

“What is the difference between you and Tom Morello?” he finally asked his employee.

“Everything beside the fact that we both play guitar,” Steve said with a laugh. “He’s so inventive … You have to be able to look at the guitar in a way nobody else ever has.”

Though Steve’s guitar playing was coming along nicely, his home life seemed far less harmonious. He also told Howard on Tuesday about his ongoing habit of sleepwalking and screaming himself awake from disturbing dreams. “I’ll wake up screaming at the top of my lungs and every once in a while … I used to run out of the room in the middle of the night,” he said, adding, “I go right back to bed, it doesn’t really bother me, but then my girlfriend’s up all night freaked out in horror.”

Steve shared details from multiple nightmares, explaining one centered on fending off a violent squirrel attack while another involved disappointing Howard at work. “It was a dream that I was listening to the pre-show meeting and you were talking about me and you said, ‘You know, Steve, he’s great but you can just tell he doesn’t give it 100 percent,’” he told Howard. “And I woke up screaming.”

Tune into Howard 100 Wednesday morning to catch Tom Morello on the Stern Show.