The Machine interview David Eering & Hans van Heemst
Thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview! Would you guys mind introducing yourselves?
[David] You’re welcome! My name is David, I play guitar and sing in The Machine. Besides that I also take care of our websites, recording/producing, making the artwork and the ‘business side’ of having a band.
[Hans] Hi, I’m Hans and I play bass guitar. I manage merchandise.
So, how did you guys get together to create The Machine? Why the name The Machine?
[David] We met each other while we were still at high school. We did a schoolball-gig, Hans went to university and thought he wouldn’t have the time for a band so we hired some other guys, a bassplayer and a singer. Davy and I were both raised on blues, (psychedelic) classic rock and we were into metal at the time (we sometimes still are) and we connected naturally in a musical way, call it chemistry. At one point we were playing songs that were too ‘radio-friendly’, which was caused by the singer. We got rid of him and later on got Hans back to replace our former bassplayer Ed(uard), because we needed a more bassheavy groove instead of Ed’s funky plucking. This was two or three months before the recordings of our first album Shadow of the Machine. We’re called the way we are for several reasons. First we needed a name with more balls to it, just like the new musical direction we were heading in after sacking our singer. It also pretty much sums up some of our important influences, Hendrix (Machine Gun), Pink Floyd (Welcome To The Machine) and Kyuss (Green Machine). We adapted the name to have something to work with and got stuck to it afterwards hahahaha.
[Hans] Time is always scarce, but when they asked me back in I thought what the hell… I’ll give it a shot. It is not always easy combining the two, but totally worth it.
What are some of your influences?
[David] To me personally, of course the aforementioned bands. Besides that a lot of other bands such as Motorpsycho, Grand Funk Railroad, CCR, Stevie Ray Vaughan, King Crimson, Agitation Free, Miles Davis, Can, Sleep, Black Flag, Black Sabbath, Alice in Chains, The Doors plus a bunch of old blues guys (Muddy Waters!) and a lot of other 60’s/70’s psychedelic/rock bands.
[Hans] I have always been a big Floyd fan, but to answer what drove me to plays bass or what inspires me…
I have no idea. I just wanted to play bass one day.
In 2007 you released you first EP, The Doors to Infinity, following Shadow of the Machine album. What can you tell me about producing this first album?
[David] Funny you are aware of The Doors to Infinity, it was intended as a demo! We recorded it with our previous bassplayer. But about Shadow of the Machine: it was basically recorded to check how our songs would sound like once they were recorded. We wanted to see if there were people interested in our stuff in an album-format. Really unexpected, it became quite successful. We’re still selling a lot of the cd’s, we released it without any record label, we even didn’t try to do so. I used to record some of my own ideas at home, using really basic techniques. So I thought I could try this with a complete band as well just to see how it would end up. Shadow of the Machine is really the start of it all, my first act as a producer (which is quite obvious listening to it) and the cooperation between the three of us as a band. Shadow is bit weird to me now, it was made by us but it doesn´t feel ´right´ anymore. That´s also why we basically never play any of those songs anymore during our shows.
[Hans] I was in the band for just a few months. Most of our gear was crappy. My amp, the microphones we used, Davy’s drum kit, but I think we did a pretty decent job considering the resources we had.
In 2009 you released your second album called Solar Corona. I think that the production is slightly better than on the debut. You did some really nice, long, trippy songs. Can you share a few words about this release. Why did you decided to make longer jams?
[David] The only thing we did during our rehearsals after Shadow, was jamming. This way we really connected more, become one organism (or machine?). We had some really cool jams we wanted to record, so we did. A funny thing is, that the majority of the album was written right before we hit ´record´. Moons of Neptune and Caterpillar´s Mushroom were already quite thought out, the main themes in those tunes were already there. So we weren´t like “hey man, we should make long jams and put those on an album”, it was just the phase the band was in at the time: improvising and jamming a lot. We not only grew as a band, but also my methods and ideas of recording/producing improved with Solar Corona. It’s not something I’m educated in, it’s all autodidactic and very DIY. It was and still is all about experimenting and reading a lot about it. To be honest, there were still a lot of things, both musically and production wise, to be improved at Solar Corona. With Drie, I think we made a big step in both disciplines.
[Hans] We wrote a lot of it in the studio. This was a bit stressful, but created some nice tunes like Solar Corona and Interstellar Medium. I’m really proud of Caterpillar’s Mushroom. It’s about a caterpillar on a mushroom (really?), I think everyone knows which caterpillar that is.
Drie is your last album released in November 2010. One of the best psychedelic/stoner albums of the year in my opinion. What are some of your thoughts?
[David] Thanks for the compliment dude! Drie is a more balanced album, in a couple of ways. We’ve got long trippy songs and shorter more hardrocking songs. The album’s also more composed, we’ve actually set down a couple of times to ‘write’ transitions in songs etc.. I can imagine that Tsiolkovsky’s Budget and First Unique Prime for instance may be interpreted as jams by some listeners: long songs with repeating riffs and patterns.
Both tracks were actually written and composed (with some possibilities for improvisation when playing these songs live of course). I’m quite proud of Drie and it’s really cool that a lot of people seem to dig it too. The production is also an improvement compared to Solar Corona. I think it’s important to always keep improving yourself at all different kind of levels, also as a musician. Besides that, it´s important to have fun and not to take everything too seriously: the songs are what it’s all about, not the guys that happen to play them.
[Hans] You could say it represents our learning progress.
How is touring going for you? Are you satisfied with it? Share an interesting experience you had from concerts…
[David] Actually we don’t really ‘tour’ that much. Touring at the moment exists of some small weekend-tours to mostly Germany, apart from the clubshows in Holland and Belgium. We had some offers for shows in other parts of Europe as well, but we’re really busy with our jobs (Davy and me) and study (Hans) that we unfortunately cannot accept every gig we get offered. Our booker Matte Vandeven (Sound of Liberation) worked out a European tour for upcoming fall (Up In Smoke III) which should become awesome. We’d like to play as much as we can, but our life besides the band keeps us from playing more than we do. But I’m quite OK with that, because we cannot make a living from the band right now. As long as we can play a lot of single or weekendgigs and at least one tour per year, I’m happy! An interesting experience to share… Well, interesting in terms of ‘that’s a bummer man’: we were invited to be special guests at a couple of shows for Up In Smoke I Tour (Colour Haze, Rotor & Sungrazer) in Germany. We were about to play in really nice venues with lots of people showing up, but Davy got really sick on our way to Germany. This eventually resulted in the fact that he really wasn’t able to do our shows, unfortunately. Apart from a couple of guest appearances I did and one The Machine show he couldn’t play, I’ve never played any show without the guy, so it’s also a bit weird for me to get on stage without him. But me and Hans did these two shows with guest drummer Hans Mulders (yes another Hans, well actually we call our Hans ‘Pirate’ and the other Hans just Hans whenever both Hans and Hans are present, otherwise it can be quite confusing when you say Hans) from our friends Sungrazer, another cool Dutch Elektrohasch band. We just got on stage and did a completely improvised set, fortunately the jams turned out quite cool. Both Tim and Milan from Rotor joined in from time to time on the other drumkit which was still on stage. We did the same thing the second night, which also resulted in Stefan Koglek (Colour Haze) joining us on stage playing 2nd guitar and Milan from Rotor taking over the drumkit from Hans (yes Hans, not Pirate) at one point.
[Hans] We fight a lot but it’s getting better. I guess we find more ways to cope with each other’s personalities. When you’re constantly together for a weekend, you get on each other’s nerves. Never for long however, cause guys will be guys and can easily solve an argument.
[David] ‘To cope with’ really might sound too negative. We all love each other: brothers tend to argue sometimes right? We´re a very tight band (no pun intended), we also have a lot of contact outside of our band-related activities. You know, we started the thing as friends and we still are. Hans and I already became really close friends before he rejoined and Davy and I became this through the years: he’s like my little brother from another mother (as he always likes to put it). Not that we have the same father though…
How about some future plans for the band? By that I mean do you have an idea for a new album in the future? Where will you go touring?
[David] Yeah we do have plans for a new album, it will probably be released somewhere later this year/early next year. We’ve got some cool tunes that we’re finalizing at the moment, call it pre-production/demoing the new record, we’re moving into the right direction. The recordings will probably start within a couple of weeks. We’re thinking about a song or 7 to 8, but we’re staying within the borders for putting it on one LP. So no 2LP with 60+ minutes this time, probably around 45 minutes. It will be another typical The Machine release, but yet again different (we do like clichés don’t we?!). Don’t know exactly how to put it, but I think you could call it ‘heavier’, looking at how the tunes are shaping up. I don’t like to call it more aggressive, because that has a negative vibe over it which I don’t like, but it could be interpreted that way. Doomier from time to time, maybe that’s a good one. But on the other side we’re not abandoning our spacing out!
As said, we´ll probably be touring Europe in the fall and I expect lots of other nice things to come on our path. We played Burg Herzberg Festival this summer for instance, I’m really happy with that!
[Hans] After Drie, we all thought that we had to come with something different. Otherwise we would start repeating ourselves. Also we want to explore other sides to it. Some will love it, some will hate it. We will love it.
Thank you very much for your time and effort. Do you have anything else to say about the band or yourself, that I didn’t ask?
[David] The Machine abides.