The Secret Machines - Interview

31 March 2005

The Secret Machines

The Secret Machines - Interview

Contactmusic spoke to drummer Josh Garza from the band The Secret Machines.

So how is your day going?

So far so good; I am excited about the show tonight here in London. It’s been a little bit weird today, we didn’t have to get here until 1pm and we were in Amsterdam last night so we opted to stay up all night in Amsterdam and then sleep on the bus and ferry on the way home.

Did you have much fun in Amsterdam?

Yeah, I just have to say that up until then I don’t think I’ve ever smoked proper grass. But over there when you have some it’s the total opposite to a home, you feel like you’re speeding on coffee and giggling and talking. It turned out to be a great experience.

So are you feeling a little worse for wear?

No, I’m feeling great! I don’t like to party so hard that it hurts the next day! I think the best way is to party just enough so you want to do it the next day, the other way can make you fall into a bad trend with the hangovers and stuff!

How long are you in the UK for?

We only have another week left. After tonight we finish up our little stretch of headline shows, and then we have some support slots with Ian Brown. We’re kind of nervous about those shows because we’re from the US and we’re not too sure what he means to the UK anymore? We are all big Stone Roses freaks; I guess we didn’t know if this was a good thing or a bad thing. We’ll try not to mess it up!

Have you been given any time off?

We have been allover the place recently and we were in Paris a couple of days ago, we actually got there a day early and I hadn’t been there before and sometimes when you’re on the road its good to have a day out, not so much to rest but mainly just to get away from everyone, get off the bus and cruise around the city. We also had a day off in Leeds; we had a gig on the Monday night so we had Sunday off. We always try and have Sundays off work so we can regroup. It was really nice and mellow in Leeds because I was walking around and everything shut down at 5 o clock and then it occurred to me that it must be Sunday, sometimes I totally forget what day it is, sometimes it just all blends into one.

The Secret Machines - Interview
The Secret Machines - Interview
The Secret Machines - Interview
The Secret Machines - Interview

How did you guys start out?

Well we are all living in Texas and it’s a really small music scene so everyone knows each other and everyone jams together, people always had side projects going on, Ben and Brandon were in some other band and I was in a different band. Ben and Brandon’s band stopped playing together - it was just a natural evolution thing really. When we finally hooked up we all decided to leave town, we didn’t want the band to be our hobby we wanted to take it to the next level. We moved to New York and that made the biggest difference to us. I was born in Texas and the boys were born in Oklahoma so it was pretty much central US. I think it comes through in our music, I think it kind of sounds like the Texas sun inside a New York skyline. It sounds pretty vague now I’ve said it but if you were from Texas living in New York you would understand what I mean.

What’s your favorite part of the job?

I think it’s finding a good combination of everything. I think if you spend too much time working in the studio and not enough time gigging you kind of get burnt out on it. I think they both have to compliment each other. We always try and keep ourselves entertained, our live set can be pretty different to our recorded stuff I think this keeps the creative juices flowing, we actually have a whole album worth of stuff ready and we out playing a lot of them live already. I know sometimes our fans feel like they don’t know half of the set but they still seem to enjoy it and come along with us on the ride! We are never gonna be one of those bands who play the whole album through because that’s all they know, we’re totally unlike that, we like to do a few covers, do new songs and experiment by maybe taking songs that are on the record and making them longer and things like that. We’re not a true hippy jam band we’re an experimental band but try and keep a pop sensibility and that can be a hard thing to balance with an audience.

So what song do you most like to cover?

Oh well there’s a few actually, I guess the most well know we do would be the Bob Dylan cover, a Van Morrison one and in sound check we like to do Neil Young songs, there’s an obscure German song we like to cover, we are quite big Crout rock fans, we like music from the mid seventies when it was still obscure back then but we still love it.

We did a cover of Money (That’s What I Want), we slowed it down and changed the chords we just basically just used the lyrics, everyone knew the lyrics but it was kind of out of context.

How long have you guys been together?

About 5 years now, we had out first rehearsal July of 2000 and that September we drove to Chicago to record some of the stuff we had been working on. We hadn’t even played, we just worked on material. We moved to New York in November 2000.

The new single is released on 11th of April, how are things looking?

Supposedly yeah, The Road Leads Where It's Led, I try not to pay too much attention to that kind of stuff, I think for us we feel we may or may not be this hit phenomenon, it’s not really what’s going on in New York or over here, it just says rock and roll without sounding too modern. The first single was quite mellow, we are hoping people hear it and see that we aren’t just a one trick pony.

What sort of music are you listening to?

It’s really funny because we have all become really isolated music listeners, on the last US tour we would all jam in the back listening to music because it was that kind of set up, here it’s been a little different. Last night I was fried out of my brain but I was listening to Dungeon I think they’re from Sweden they’re great you should buy the record. When you hear it you will think it’s from ‘72 or something, I’ve had the Arcade Fire album on a little bit, I like them I dig their stuff. M83, we liked their stuff so much we actually asked them to open for us this evening.

How about the last gig?

M83. They were playing with us in Leeds, at that point we had only heard their records so I just thought it would be a guy with a computer hitting enter so when they showed up with a whole band I was impressed, I was even more impressed when I actually heard them rock.

How are the British fans treating you compared to your American fans?

I’ll have to tell you that after tonight. It’s our biggest UK show to date. We have been playing the last three nights so we are ready to give it our all.

How do you unwind?

I stretch out, have some white wine. That usually sorts me out for the evening.

Are you doing the festivals this year?

I’ve had a look at the festival list and it’s a pretty thorough list, it’s got lots of European and UK dates on there.

Have you ever been to a festival yourself?

No I haven’t! Growing up where I did in Texas there wasn’t anything like that happening and it’s not something that they do very well because there isn’t enough people to support it. Last year we did Reading and Leeds and I was impressed, I was cruising the whole place checking out different bands and it was a lot of fun. It may have been superficial fun because I had a backstage pass, never the less I really enjoyed it. We’re actually doing Coachella at the end of April.

You’re obviously a very good musician, what aren’t you so good at?

Cooking, I’m useless. I’m lucky though because all my friends love it. I’ll bring the ingredients and of course the wine and music but the actual cooking I’m no good at.

What are you passionate about?

Life itself, I remember when we first moved to New York we were broke, we didn’t have any heat, any hot water, no job & no money. We all lived in one big room together all our beds lined up at one end and the equipment at the other, it was like an army barracks. I was walking around and I saw this sign on a church saying ‘the way you live your day is the way you live your life’ I remember seeing that and thinking yeah, and from then on I followed that advise. I think that can sound a little hedonistic but I think you need to find a happy medium and not go off the deep end.

What’s next for you guys?

We’re going to go back home throughout April, just do some rehearsals and a couple of festivals. In July we are doing a tour in the US with the Kings of Leon, supposed to be a double bill whatever the hell that means. By the end of the year we will be getting ready to release a new album. has an area on the website dedicated to unsigned artist, what advice would you give them?

I think you have to be really smart and deliberate about what you want to happen with your life and your music. Focus yourself, there’s nothing you can’t have but it takes hard work and patience. You need to be honest with yourself and be able to say “it isn’t happening like this” or “this isn’t the right team for me”; if that’s the truth. You can bullshit pretty much anyone apart from yourself.


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