Born 1970 in Long Beach, CA. Zack's parents separated when he was one year old. He was raised primarily with mother living in Irvine and visited his father in Lincoln Heights. According to Zack, he never felt accepted in the somewhat affluent suburbs where he says “people would look at you funny if you were Chicano and didn’t have a mop and bucket in your hand.” His Chicana/German mother was studying for her PhD and she and Zack lived in “crappy student housing.” His dad, Beto De La Rocha suffered a serious mental breakdown and later became obsessively religious, locking himself out from the outside world for weeks at a time and fasting, which he forced Zack to do as well while he visited.
Zack dropped out of high school and worked various jobs at community service organizations before meeting Tom Morello at a party and forming RATM. Both men shared similar political ideals and the band found a successful niche immediately, selling 5,000 copies of their demo before signing with Epic Records. The band's eponymous first album was a huge success. Both Zack and Tom are known for having strong opinions which has lead to serious conflicts in the band. During the recording of their follow up CD, the two were rumored to have come to blows and even a brief break up. They managed to patch things up in time to sell a few million copies of Evil Empire.
In his spare time Zack spends a lot of time and money supporting high and low profile causes like EZLN, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Anti-Sweatshop Movement, and local youth and Chicano arts associations. In years past he has taken groups of college students on trips to Chiapas to learn about the struggles of the indigenous population in Mexico. A big fan of hip hop, he has also recorded with KRS-1, Chuck D, The Roots, and more recently drum & bass aficionado Roni Size.
In the past few years things weren’t going well between members of Rage. Band members admit that they didn’t socialize much in the three years between albums. Zack was said to have recorded his lyrics up to a year after the music was set. “The Battle of Los Angeles” turned out to be the best Rage album yet but after a brief tour, the machine seemed to run out of steam. Other band members whined that Zack was doing little to push sales of the disc and were angered that he refused to show up for a RageTV special that MTV aired, leaving Tom and those other guys to chat it up with Carson Daly in an audience full of boy band lovers. Tour plans with Beastie Boys were delayed and then canceled completely.
During the MTV Music Awards, a drunken Timmy C. climbed the set and pestered a national audience of teenybopers, Zack told Rolling Stone that he was so disgusted and humiliated, he left the awards show. Britney Spears has no comment.
Five weeks later Zack announced he was leaving for good and he is working on a solo project. Tom Morello, and the other guys vowed to “keep on rocking,” especially since he still hasn’t paid off the mortgage on his Bel Aire estate.