Machine Go Boom
Marc Russo: drums
Carrie Bukala: keyboards/backing vocals
Mikey Machine: guitar/lead vocals
Brian O’Connor: bass
Kevin Jaworski: lead guitar/vocals
Interview with Mikey Machine
By: Heather Kobrin
I need to start off by asking if Cleveland, does in fact, rock.
Well, yeah, I guess so. I mean, we came up with the Michael Stanley Band, didn’t we?
Tell us a little bit about the history of the band.
I started playing solo acoustic in Cleveland back in 2000. A year or so later, I wanted to play those songs with a band, so some friends and I started playing together.
Describe your sound in three words.
Machine. Go. Boom.
A reviewer once asked “Is it merely a matter of promotion and luck that keeps Machine Go Boom from being the biggest indie-rock heroes in the country?” What do you think?
Well, I think that’s very flattering. I don’t know about being “indie-rock heroes” or whatever, but we’ve certainly been unlucky in the promotion department. If anyone wants to plaster flyers when we come to their town, I’ll buy them a beer… or three.
Your new album “Music for Parents” is available now – can you take us through a few of your favorite tracks?
I like them all, but certain ones stick out for me. “Uh-Oh” is definitely one of them, probably because that was so last minute — recorded in a couple hours with blatant disregard for studio professionalism. “M.I.A.” is another, but it bums me out that we can’t really play that one live. There’s like 9 tracks of dual percussion on that one — a bit too many drummers to fit in a tour van.
How would you compare the new album to the band’s previous release, 2004’s “Thank You Captain Obvious?”
I played all the instruments on the “Captain” album, and at the time, I wasn’t sure anyone else would like it at all. But a lot of folks did, so that was cool. On the new cd, some songs are the whole band, some songs are demos with just me playing that sounded good, and some songs have different friends from the Cleveland area playing stuff. In short, I think the new cd is like the first step in my rehabilitation of being a control-freak. Well, sort of… I’m still writing the stuff.
Tell us about your songwriting process. Do you generally bring completed songs to the rest of the band, or is it more of a collaborative effort?
I write the songs by recording demo versions, and I’m usually still writing parts/lyrics while tracking. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, because sometimes I get carried away with adding way too many instruments/overdubs, and then we can’t really do them live. When we play live, we’re very much a rock band. I want the next recording to be much more live and immediate like our shows.
Which artists are your primary influences?
Movies are more of an influence on me, I think — and lots of comedy. On our last two weeks out on tour, we basically just listened to tons of stand-up comedy, like Bill Hicks, Patton Oswald, David Cross, Louis C.K., etc., and I have a lot of new songs written now. I think the stand-up helped. Also, I’m a huge Residents and Devo fan.
What inspired you to create your list of “20 Tips for the Touring Band,” suggestions that you note should also be applied to daily life?
I just wanted to say that “life on the road” isn’t always some crazy frat-house-dudes-gone-wild party. It’s just like any other thing in life. Just try to be relaxed and share, and don’t be a jerk.
What’s your opinion on the current state of the music industry?
It’s an industry. Like the auto industry. And Clear Channel is the new General Motors. And they’ve shipped the music jobs overseas. Now they force small children from third-world countries to write happy little ditties about teenage love while whipping them with VHS copies of “The Breakfast Club.” It’s so brutal.
What’s the overall plan for the band for the immediate future?
To sell our souls. I’m not kidding. We’re in debt.
More Machine Go Boom:
“Music for Parents” available at www.collectibleescalators.com