Wednesday, 31 December 2014
Bringing in the bells with... Machines In Heaven
It's been a great year for Glasgow synth warriors Machines In Heaven, who have released an album and an EP, played some outstanding gigs, and perhaps best of all performed in session for Scottish Fiction back in November (living the dream!)
With 2015 peeking over the horizon, I caught up with Greg Hurst from the band to chat about the year that was 2014 for Machines In Heaven.
Hey guys, thanks for joining us for an end of year chat. How has 2014 been for Machines In Heaven?
Thank you for all your support this year and your excellent radio show! 2014 has been the best year yet we reckon. London gigs, Red Bull studio recordings, our biggest and best shows yet, as well as releasing a total of 15 songs across an LP and an EP. Mission accomplished!
How have the band progressed and changed from this time last year?
Well we're down to a three-piece after Graham left early in the year. Initially it was a daunting task re-jigging the live show for three, but we put a lot of work in meaning we're now tighter and more flexible (oo-er). And logistics are a LOT easier with the three of us!
Musically we think we've come far. We've refined our basic ethos as well as the way we work. We don't write together in the first instance, we just bring ideas we like to the band, and give the others free reign to do what they want with them. We think this approach creates a varied and unpredictable sound, like on our last EP. We're also using less guitars - all three of us play synths on a couple of songs - but the guitars are definitely NOT going away. We're using more vocals too, but not necessarily songs and lyrics; for example Edge of the Middle and Voodoo Mechanics from the new EP use vocals as a texture or effect.
bordersbreakdown was one of Scottish Fiction's favourite albums of 2014. How do you feel about that body of work 10 months down the line?
Thanks for all your kind words about it :)
As we've said before, that was a very long time in the making and your relationship to it changes when you've been intimate with it for three years (i.e. you get sick of it!). Having said that, bordersbreakdown and The Eternal Now are still our no-brainer set closers, and I still think Mumbo Jingo, Parliament Is Made Of Rice Paper and Metropolis are some of the best work I've produced. So we still love it, even if we don't listen to it so much any more. It's also kind of the template for everything else: Edge of the Middle and Holy Particles were written while we were still finishing the album, and are similar in structure and feel.
2014 has ended with the release of your new EP Hindu Milk, a noted shift in the sound of the band. How much does Hindu Milk represent where your music is heading into 2015?
We've all got slightly different ideas about that, but we'll definitely finish another LP in the first half of next year. We've already written a lot of tracks for it. We want to continue, but develop, our varied sound (desperately trying to avoid that word 'eclectic'), so that we'll have two or three catchier songs on there but also some dark, experimental, longer tracks. We basically want to make an incoherent LP that still makes sense.
What's been your favourite Machines In Heaven gig this year?
We've actually been playing all our best gigs in the last few months: The Red Bull stage at Electric Fields, the Synth stage at Simple Things, and supporting Daedelus in Edinburgh are probably our favourites so far.
What have you been listening to this year?
Caribou, Lorde (still!), Liars, Juan Maclean, FKA Twigs, Rustie, Kiesza and of course the inescapable Taylor Swift. Was also just introduced to The War On Drugs by a friend actually, which I love too; just to get a guitar act in there!
What constitutes a Machines In Heaven Hogmanay?
No idea! We've been too busy to think about it. It'll be a last-minute two-day party, and we'll all probably meet up at 9am on 1st January in a scuzzy West-end dive...
Lastly, thanks for chatting to us, enjoy New Year, and all the best for 2015. What can we expect from you next year?
Thanks, and the same to you! Definitely a new LP, almost certainly some European gigs, a small tour of England, and hopefully some big festivals. And the continuing rise of the Machines. BOW DOWN FEEBLE HUMANS!