Machines On Blast
You know, I could have sworn at one point or another that I interviewed you guys on Brutal. That appears to be a figment of my imagination as one does not exist. Nonetheless, this gives us the opportunity to get to know everything about the band. Let’s start off with the basics for the audience. Who is in the band, what do they do, and what are their favorite album(s) of all time?
Evan: Ooooh, we start off with our own mini Mandela Effect! Well my name is Evan and I sing and write for M.O.B. Having to pinpoint my favorite albums of all time is no easy task, So I will go with what pops into my head first. Cat Stevens' "Tea for the Tillerman", Type O Negative's "October Rust", Architects' "Holy Hell", and Gary Numan's "Jagged".
Andrew: Howdy. My name is Andrew and I play guitar for Machines on Blast. I’m a new addition to the band so this is the first MoB release that I got to be a part of, and I’m really stoked on it. As far as all time favorite albums go, this is particularly difficult since I’m not so quick to claim something as “my all time favorite” because I have such a “flavor-of-the-month” mentality. But in terms of significance, I’d say growing up the albums most important to me as a beginning musician and songwriter would be Metallica’s "...And Justice For All", Iron Maiden’s "Powerslave", Children of Bodom’s "Follow the Reaper", Mudvayne’s "LD50", and The Beatles’ "Revolver". My current flavor of the month is "The Congregation" by Leprous.
Scott Van Horn is our bass player and Alejandro Acuna is our drummer, I could not reach them before this interview for their favorite albums, but I will assume for Scott it would involve Machine Head and Skinny Puppy. for Alejandro, it would involve Deftones and Sepultura.
Machines on Blast started in 2014 as far as I can see with the self-titled EP. What prompted the rise of Machines on Blast? Were you involved in any other bands in the past that made you want to start your own project?
Evan: I had been playing in bands as a drummer since I was fifteen, playing Metal, Rock, Electronic etc. When I left Los Angeles and moved to Florida, I knew I wanted to continue with my musical endeavors but was kind of lost as far as what I wanted to create. after unboxing all my stuff and rebuilding my studio in the new house, I just started tinkering around with ideas and hashing out structures that were in my head, which ultimately created the bones for what would become Machines on Blast. Once that started rolling I scouted around trying to find someone to be the singer but after not finding anyone near me that fit the vibe, I said screw it, I guess I will sing (never singing before in my life.) So in the process of that, my fear of public speaking got cured real quick.
While the industrial metal influence was held within the debut EP, I felt a strong aggrotech, harsh EBM, and general dark electro vibes within it. What was your original intention with Machines on Blast? Did you ever intend to go as heavy into industrial metal as you currently stand?
Evan: For sure that was definitely the initial intended route for M.O.B. to be more of a Aggrotech band, but just through the organic progression of writing and wanting to make things bigger and better, guitars were introduced and that is how we ended up here. I still write aggrotech songs, but they just get put into a folder for some other project that doesn't exist yet.
After a remix EP for the self-titled, “Tin Man Empire” made its debut in the beginning of 2016. I received the album generally favorable with a good seven-and-a-half out of ten. Within the two years in between your debut and “Tin Man Empire”, what improvements and maturity did you undergo to make the album sound better than your debut?
Evan: I think having a more clear vision for what M.O.B. was while writing "Tin Man Empire" helped a lot, by that time we had a good amount of live shows under our belt which gave me a more defined direction for what I felt worked and didn't work with the previous songs of the E.P. I knew that I wanted "Tin Man Empire" to be bigger and more rock sounding but still be driven by the synths and drums. Looking back there are for sure some things I would have done a bit different, but overall I'm pretty happy with what was accomplished with that release.
Yet another remix EP came and went and now 2020 brings us the industrial metal anthem that is “Black Market Happiness” and I am more than ready to tackle this subject. Explain to me the idea or theme of the cover art and how it correlates to the album. I sort of see a Jesus-posed figure in the hellish mist with a crowd sort of worshipping them. Am I correct in that?
Andrew: The cover art for this album has a weird and incredibly underwhelming story behind it. Evan and I were coming up on the end of the album writing process so we needed to start switching gears to finding graphic artists to make lyric videos, finding a mixer, and of course, getting cover art. We were both looking at tons of artists and tons of different styles trying to find something that spoke to us. Then I recalled the cover art for Keith Merrow’s "Reading the Bones" album and thought that style would be great for us. So I looked up who did the artwork, Bahrull Marta, and we both started flipping through his portfolio to get a better vibe of him. And then it was right there. Sitting completed in his portfolio and available for purchase by anyone. The vibe was just perfect. I didn’t try to examine what it was that I was seeing, I only knew how it made me feel. It was the same feeling I got when listening to Fake the Cure, The Proclamation, and This Warm Embrace. So I don’t care if the image doesn’t exactly fit thematically, emotionally it’s exactly where it should be.
Evan: Pretty much what Andrew said. Through the search for artists and artwork, I saw a lot of cool images that could have worked and been just fine as the album cover, but once I saw the piece that Bahrull created, I knew immediately that this was it, it hit me right in the gut. I knew this was the visual that would tie all this music together.
As soon as I hit the play button on “Black Market Happiness” I noticed an immediate improvement to production. Every beat, rhythm, percussive element and guitar riff was clear. How or what did you do to record this album differently? Did the metal-beast that is Henrik Udd help in curating such a clean sound?
Andrew: The album tones themselves were created by Henrick in his re-amping process and in sample replacing drum shells. But a bad performance played through a great rig is just a really expensive bad performance. So it really was just holding ourselves to the standards of professionals and doing everything we can to execute on that level. Everything was taken into consideration from where Evan placed his breaths to what size guitar pick I should use for a specific part. Both of us being practiced and rehearsed enough to nail the parts without putting out anything we thought was subpar was more important to the final sound that the amps and microphones we used.
Evan: Andrew pretty much covered everything that made this album sound the way it does, having Henrik Mix and Master this album was a true blessing and he made this album sound slamming for sure. But I wanted to point out that having Andrew now involved in the writing process is what created the better part of M.O.B. leveling up. He didn't point this out but all the guitar tracks on this album were all recorded in one take, there are no punch-ins or edits on his parts, and I find that pretty damn impressive. and that pretty much set the standard for how this album was going to be created.
You two wrote, recorded, and produced the entire album by yourselves. Take me through the process of writing a song. Do the lyrics come first or is it the music? And have you ever butt heads on a song and, if so, how do you compromise? Do you guys take the argument to a gladiatorial cage match and fist fight it out?
Evan: I don't recall any arguments, If we did enter the cage it would just be two dudes fighting like Kermit the frog, so it would be entertaining but not much damage, haha. Lyrics always come last in this process. As far as the songwriting process goes (and this is simplified) we both write and share ideas with each other, then pick apart what is not working and correct those parts, neither of us have that shitty musician ego of I wrote this so it's perfect, so whatever is going to make the song it's overall best is what we go for. So it's a lot of emails and sending files. I will say I not only appreciate Andrew's honesty and criticism but his ability to give a better way of doing what he feels is not working.
Andrew: There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for this one. I’ll start by saying there were no fist fights, screaming matches, or disrespecting of each other’s mothers. If there are five ideas on the table then two of them are shit, one of them is total shit, one needs work, and one is cool. So it was just a matter of being honest serving the song. There were definitely times where we pushed each other pretty hard to get better performances, or pushed each other by saying “that part is almost there. Something is just not right keeping working it” and we didn’t take it personally. As far as writing goes there are three types of songs: Evan songs, Andrew songs, and Collaboration songs. If one of us presents an idea for a song and it’s ninety to ninety-nine percent done, we may offer feedback and notes to each other but we don’t really let our egos take over to start meddling with the track just to have a writing credit. As for the collaboration song, one of us presents a rough outline of a song and the other may say “everything sucks except the chorus, let me take a crack at it and see what I can work out” and then pass the song back and forth like that
On the track ‘The Proclamation’, Chris “Ludachrist” Dupre provided additional vocals. What was it like working with the artist and what did he bring to Machines on Blast that you could not have otherwise provided?
Evan: Chris is a great guy and a dear friend. We have played several shows with his band Fractured Fairytales and I have always enjoyed how he sings and fits his lyrics to his songs. After we finished writing the basic song structure for The Proclamation, I was jotting down some lyrics for the first verse and Chris's style kept coming to mind, so instead of trying to mimic what he does, I hit him up and asked if he wanted to split some vocal with me on a new song. Chris was super easy to work with and knocked out his parts pretty quickly and the first draft he sent fit just fit perfectly.
Further engineering was done by Kevin Mcombs. What polish did he provide the album? How did he improve it?
Andrew: This album was in the works for quite a bit. After I recorded the DI’s for the album I took them to a local studio to re-amp and get the final tones for the album. At that time we had thought of the album as being more synth forward and the guitar/bass/acoustic drums taking a bit more of a back seat. So the sounds we had worked out were meant to accommodate the original vision. Later on down the line, we decided to have it be a more rock/metal forward approach so we had Henrick re-amp to accommodate the new vision. Some of the stuff I had worked out with Kevin did stay on the record like the clean bits in 'Like Facts to the Slaughter' and the lead lines in 'The Proclamation'.
Now for a question most bands tell me is hard to answer; what is your favorite song on the album and why? Mine is the intro track, ‘This Warm Embrace’. I feel as if the chorus like vocals lend a Hell-on-Earth, apocalyptic vibe to the song.
Evan: Well, I got two, 'This Warm Embrace', because finding a chorus that I liked was super stressful, and listening to the final product makes me feel super proud. the other song is 'Out of Control'. The whole album was already written and the same night we called the album done, the chorus of this song popped into my head while I was in the shower, so I jumped out, ran into the studio, and wrote the song, haha. Oh, and It's just a really fun song to jam too.
Andrew: I’m really into 'Living the Lie'. It’s got a great vibe and simply, it’s super fun to play on the guitar
And what’s next for Machines on Blast? Will you be committing to a remix EP like you’ve done in the past? Any gigs (I know, Corona probably won’t allow it), singles, or otherwise in the works?
Evan: I'm sure a remix album will eventually accompany the release but as for now, the focus is just pushing this release to gain as much attention as possible. I'm sure shows will come back someday, but as for now, that is just not a feasible option.
Andrew: We’re mainly focused on pushing out "Black Market Happiness" and trying to get some attention drawn towards it, but Evan has some ideas for some cover songs he was playing around with, I’ve got some riffs I’m working out into full songs. The writing never really stops, only becomes less of a focus at times
This is more or less a question for myself as it allows me to discover new music, but what are some of the bands or musicians you’ve been listening to lately? Anything fun and exciting?
Evan: What has been finding its way on my listening devices the most is Code Orange, Spirit Box, Orbit Culture, and this Russian Industrial rock band called [T.3.R].
Andrew: There’s this Portuguese black metal band called Gaerea that I can’t seem to get enough of. It’s a very post-metal approach with modern production, so it’s actually very musical and emotional that isn’t fatiguing to listen to, haha. Gojira and Leprous’ entire discography are also on my cycle right now as well as this hardcore band called END, which is just beautifully filthy aggression
Outside from music, what are your hobbies? I note that many people tend to think musicians spend all their time simply toying away at their next album, but that’s not the case.
Evan: While music is always my main focus, I enjoy working on old British sports cars, I'm currently restoring a '64 Austin Healey, and long walks on the beach at sunset.
Andrew: Outside of Machines on Blast, I have a project of my own that I’m working on so I get to do all of this all over again and in between the band stuff, I'm taking cooking very seriously. Nothing comes from a box, I jar my own sauces, grind my own meat, and bake my own bread. I really just go back and forth between my studio and my kitchen while I’m at home.
And, finally, we come to the end of the interview. I leave the space below for anything else you wish to say in case I didn’t cover it. Cheers!
Evan: I just want to thank you for the interview, Mr. Steve! It has been an honor. and to anyone that discovers us from this interview, a big thank you for checking us out.
Andrew: I have a crippling fear of spiders and I can put my whole fist in my mouth.
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I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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