Immortal Machinery are a three-piece from London, England that have made ME, for one, sit up and take notice. With vocalist Steph K’s very distinctive voice, bassist Matt G’s jazz sensibilities and drummer Tom S’s hard hitting grooves they have found themselves making their own brand of metal, dark and melodic with gothic influences. I reviewed their second album “An Imperfect Storm” back in March of this year and jumped at the chance to get the guys to answer some questions for us.
Hi, I’m Dawn King from Ever Metal. I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us and I hope you are all well?
We’re doing pretty great, glad we could have a chat!
For those who haven’t heard of Immortal Machinery, can you give us some history about the band?
We started in the latter half of 2013 – we had met at a jam night in central London a couple of years prior, and once I put a few songs together we finally started pushing ahead with the band as a more serious entity.
It became apparent quite quickly that we’d have to do things the DIY way – both our albums have been recorded in a shed with no running water. No shiny studios for us! We also very early on started booking our own self-promoted shows; there’s something quite satisfying about taking control and having the chance to be a curator of other good bands.
Where did the name Immortal Machinery, which I think is great by the way, come from?
If I want to impress people, I tell them that the name sums up what I believe is the human condition – an immortal soul in a bodily machine. Then I realise how pretentious that sounds and admit the truth: I wanted to call the band “Mortal Engines” after a rather good sci fi book. But of course, in the age of Google (and lawsuits) you probably want a more unique name.
Your second album “An Imperfect Storm” was released in april of this year. How is it beng received (obviously other than by me because I thought it was fab!)
It’s a big step up from our first recordings, and I think people are really responding to that. The cliché is for bands to struggle to top the impression they made with their debut – I feel like we’ve grown significantly since then so showing everyone what we’re made of now has been really satisfying. Also, it’s nice to surprise people with such a big string-led sound.
And how was the launch party? I was gutted I missed it.
Aside from your absence, it was everything we could have hoped for! For those who don’t know, we took over an abandoned attic in Camden – we played a set, cracked a few bottles open and then people got into jamming and doing a bit of metal karaoke. People were only given the address after buying a ticket, so there was quite an air of mystery about the event. It felt more like a house party with live music; with so many venues closing, I’d love to see more bands do stuff like this. There’s a video of the party here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-3jL2OHUbw&t=67s
I stated in my review that your album “An Imperfect Storm” had an individuality and a uniqueness about it. Did you purposefully set out to record something that was different?
I feel as if there’s a fine line between doing your best to be original, and just making gratuitously weird music (prog..ahem…). Yes, we wanted to make something unique, but I’d like to think that we did so in a way that played to our strengths. I’ve been playing the violin since before the age of 4, so to orchestrate string parts felt like the most natural thing to do; Mat the bassist had the freedom to throw as much jazz virtuosity as he felt like into the mix – and Peter the drummer had full license to show off in his own way too.
So, Steph, you not only provide the guitars and the vocals but also the stringed instruments. How does that work at a live show?
A rather nice chap called Mr Samsung Tablet helps us out; it’s perhaps not in the spirit of rock’n’roll, but until we can afford to bring out a string quartet on the road, we have no choice but to play the string parts on a backing track. Though it’s a recording, I would dare to argue that from a sonic perspective it’s still more “real” than having a keyboardist play synthetic orchestra sounds – it’s still me playing, after all!
And your voice!! That was one of the highlights of the album for me. How do other people view the vocals?
Thankfully, it does get a fair bit of good feedback although I’m well aware that it’s just not some people’s cup of tea. I think the general expectation is for a raspy classic rock voice or a power metal-style belter, and what I do jars with that somewhat. If I could sing like Bruce Dickinson, you’d better believe that I would. But I’m stuck being a midget with a deep voice…
My favourite track on the album is “Nail Me Upside Down” What is yours and why?
For me, it’s got to be “I Did it for You”. I’m very happy with the album as a whole, but I feel like if I had to sum up what we were trying to achieve in one track, it would be this one. Close second is “Tongues of Fire”, as personally I think Mat and Peter’s abilities on bass and drums really got showcased there.
Its hard to pick out your influences as you have such a distinctive sound. What bands and artists have influenced you as individuals and collectively?
Collectively, what we seem to value the most is top notch musicianship. Though they’re not what you might typically think of as virtuosos, bands like Sting and the Police, Toto and Steely Dan stand out to us as a real gold standard of tightness and proficiency.
For me – I love anything dark and miserable. Type O Negative and Danzig are up there, but I also love the work of Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and I’m also an insufferable Springsteen fanboy (his lyrics are far more bleak than they’re given credit for).
Mat’s first love is Pink Floyd; but he also loves weird and obnoxious jazz fusion from the 70s and 80s, like Allan Holdsworth or Frank Gambale. He’s also introduced me to an obscenely talented young trio from London called Preston Glasgow Lowe. It’s a world away from rock and metal, but I think that’s a very healthy thing for the band.
Peter is a huge fan of drumming icon Dave Weckl, and consequently any of the many projects he’s been in. He’s also the one who got us listening to bands like Toto and actually appreciate their ability rather than just belt along to the chorus of “Africa”.
Most of us have a musical guilty pleasure, perhaps a band or genre of music that doesn’t fall into what people expect us to listen to. Who or what are your musical guilty pleasures?
There’s a Swedish band called Dirty Loops who became a bit of a YouTube sensation by doing outrageously intricate jazz/funk re-workings of current pop songs. We are in awe of their ability, but no matter which way you dress it up we are still bouncing along to songs from Justin Bieber and Adele.
We are now in the middle of festival season. If you could play one festival anywhere in the world, which would it be and why?
It seems that when it comes to heavy music, the East Europeans and South Americans both seem to go nuts in a way that other countries just aren’t at the moment. So, anything from either of those two parts of the world.
So what’s next on the horizon for Immortal Machinery? Any plans for a tour?
We’re hatching some plans… We’ve already played 6 shows in Europe and Scandinavia, so we’d like to do more of that!
Well, thank you for your time. Is there anything else you would like to add?
We’re just happy you enjoyed the album so much, it really means a lot.
So, there you have it. Not only are this band great at what they do, they are also cool to talk to (albeit via email) Thank you to the guys for giving up their time to talk to me and if you haven’t checked out this fantastic band I highly recommend you do.