The Secret Machines

The very extraordinary Secret Machines, en masse, spoke to ANDREW WOMACK about scaring the audience, the recording of September 000, and potluck dinners.

The Morning News: So, how did the band start?

The Secret Machines: The Secret Machines began as a project intended to run concurrently with Josh and Brandon’s other band, Captain Audio. The idea was that performing as a group, whatever the name might be, should be much less about reciting some particular set of material and much more about exploring the singularities of a particular night or event. Some early incarnations of TSM involved large group improvisation performances, performing complete works by other artists, and potluck dinners. The group, as it is now in its solid form, was conceived at the third of three rock-n-roll/potluck dinners where When Babies Eat Pennies, for whom Benjamin played drums, was the opening band.

As far as history is concerned, Ben and Brandon played together in UFOFU (early-mid-nineties-psych-punk-rock). Josh played in Comet (early-mid-nineties-space-rock). After the dissolution of these groups Brandon and Josh played together in Captain Audio (sort of a potluck band to begin with) and Ben joined Tripping Daisy (local superstars). After Ben left the Daisy he joined When Babies Eat Pennies (one of the best bands you’ll probably never hear). Which brings us to now.

TMN: The EP (September 000) is magnificent. Tell us about what the recording sessions were like (how long it took, where it was done, etc.).

TSM: We began working together around the 6th of July 2000. Most evenings we would lock ourselves in our loud, sweaty, little rehearsal box in the suburbs of Dallas, and play. Basically we were just getting acquainted with each other and our first songs, which we had planned to record in September.

We spent the middle weeks of September in Chicago, staying at a friend’s house; recording with Brian Deck at Clava studios.

TMN: The songs, in their final versions, are extraordinarily intricate. How are they written? And how do they reach that final stage?

TSM: Basically we take an idea around the block a few times.

TMN: And the live show is tight. It’s incredibly tight, it’s sparse, and it’s loud. Do you ever think you may scare the hell out of some audience members?

TSM: We definitely want to make an impact on the audience and by pushing frequencies they get the added sensation of being vibrated.

This could be interpreted as a scare tactic.

TMN: Are there any plans for recording an album?

TSM: We are in the middle of doing a new album right now. We hope to have it done by next winter. We did another session at Clava with Brian Deck and plan on doing some more recording/mixing in NYC this summer.

TMN: People always assign categories of music to artists. For the purposes of helping people understand what your sound is like, we’ll call you ‘dark psychedelia.’ But how would you describe the music?

TSM: A spooky swamp band vacationing in Germany.

TMN: Any bands/artists who’ve been especially influential to this music? What about personally? And what about non-musical influences?

There are the obvious musical influences, but these as well: La Dusseldorf, Terry Riley, Boredoms, Flatlanders, Rocio Durcal.

TMN: Thanks for your time.

[ Review of September 000 | MP3 | purchase ]

The Secret Machines will be playing the following dates

Wednesday, 22 May 2002: The Earl @ Atlanta, Georgia

Thursday, 23 May 2002: Map Room @ Memphis, Tennessee

Saturday, 25 May 2002: Mercury Lounge @ Austin, Texas

Sunday, 26 May 2002: Gypsy Tea Room @ Dallas, Texas

Wednesday, 29 May 2002: Green Door @ Oklahoma City, Oklahoma [ with …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead ]

Thursday, 30 May 2002: El Torreon @ Kansas City, Missouri [ with …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead ]

Friday, 31 May 2002: First Avenue @ Minneapolis [ with …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead ]

Sunday, 2 June 2002: Metro @ Chicago, Illinois [ with …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead ]

Monday, 3 June 2002: Newport Music Hall @ Columbus, Ohio [ with …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead ]

Tuesday, 4 June 2002: Majestic Theater @ Detroit, Michigan [ with …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead ]

Wednesday, 5 June 2002: Showplace Theater @ Buffalo, New York [ with …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead ]

Thursday, 6 June 2002: Club Laga @ Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania [ with …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead ]

Friday, 7 June 2002: The Galaxy @ St. Louis, Missouri [ with …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead ]

Saturday, 8 June 2002: Hurricane @ Kansas City, Missouri

Tuesday, 11 June 2002: 7th St. Entry @ Minneapolis, Minnesota

Wednesday, 12 June 2002: Schuba’s @ Chicago, Illinois

Thursday, 13 June 2002: Southgate House @ Newport, Kentucky

Friday, 14 June 2002: Metro Cafe @ Washington, D.C.


Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack