Reflex Machine – Interview
Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
RM: We are both primarily musicians. We are keen on experimentation and implement that in the compositions within this project. The output tends to occupy a realm of atmospheric, strange heaviness. We both have other musical endeavors that we are pursuing alongside Reflex Machine that go outside of the metal genre. James has also written many books over the years and performs with his improv comedy group ROT in Columbus.
PD:Tell us the brief history of yourself.
RM: We met a little over four years ago for through a Facebook ad for my now defunct band, Voted Down. I played guitar in that, but also was playing drums to a lesser degree with some friends at the time. I invited James out to one of these shows, and that turned him onto the fact that I was a capable drummer (it’s my primary instrument). During the first show we were playing together in Voted Down, he approached me saying he had this idea for a heavy two-piece with him on the bass and asked if I’d be interested in playing drums. I was enthused and accepted the offer, and we bonded over bands like Death From Above 1979, Mastodon, At the Drive-In and The Melvins in the early days. After the first practice, James’ neighbor complained about the loudness, so we were already off to a great start.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
RM: In more recent times it’s been groups like Can, Slint, Om, Neurosis and The Jesus Lizard that have been impacting me. Musicians that were instrumental in my playing growing up were Brann Dailor, Steve Shelley, Bill Ward, Dale Crover, Brendan Canty, Jon Theodore, Brian Chippendale, Steve Gadd, Art Blakey, John Dolmayan, Isaac Brock, Ian MacKaye, Frank Black, Robert Fripp, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Kurt Cobain. Other people that have impacted me in some way are Levni Yilmaz, Eric Andre, Marc Maron, Bill Burr, Bill Hader, Malcolm Gladwell, Sigmund Freud and Alan Watts
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
RM: My dream with music has always been to tour as much as possible and live in relative comfort. I’d love to tour Europe some day, and I think that is something that we can accomplish in due time. Personally, I just want to be self-sustaining and pursuing the things that drive me. I also think it would be amazing to have a walk-in cooler in my house. Working in restaurants has opened up my eyes to the possibilities.
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
RM: Our songs are a collaborative effort. Our upcoming album ‘Interzone’ tells the narrative of the horrifying realities of a disavowed cop named Jones facing himself and his sordid past through the demented A.I. of a futuristic force of unfathomable cruelty – a sentient building known as Interzone.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
RM: Largely through the Internet, social media and merchandise. As toxic as Facebook can be, it is a good platform for promoting your music, especially within the groups. We post all of the events to our band’s page across the platforms. Whenever we go out of town we contact the local news and radio outlets to see if they’ll host or promote our music or shows. There’s also a considerable number of blogs, websites and radio stations on the internet that will review, premiere and stream your releases. I would also like to add that James has done an excellent job of developing a consistent aesthetic for Reflex Machine, and has designed a lot of our merchandise and artwork.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
RM: I’m not quite sure. It’s one of those cycles I don’t think we’re capable of stopping. And I’m not sure if streaming is THAT much better for artists in terms of the revenue. If the downloads equate into people becoming passionate about the music they’re listening to and supporting the artists I’m not sure it’s such a bad thing, but I don’t know how often that is actually the case. The real tragedy is that we want to consume all kinds of media for free without paying respects to the artists and people that poured their hearts into creating it.
PD: What’s your outlook on the record industry today?
RM: I think it is less relevant in determining whether or not you can have a sustainable music career, which I believe to be a very good thing. The “industry” has and always will be about manipulation and greed. The deals that are more commonplace now essentially force the artists to surrender their rights to their music and merchandise, and split the shares with the label. It’s just finding new ways to take money out of the artist’s hand. This isn’t to say that there are no worthwhile record labels. There are quite a few. I just feel that the power is more so in the artist’s hands now. You can compose, record and mix a record in your bedroom and then post it on YouTube and have it seen by potentially thousands of people. You can research bands and venues on the internet and contact them yourself to book your own shows and tours. DIY!
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
RM: “Good Morning, Captain” by Slint. I love the bassline, and the drums just kill me. The track as a whole just completely crushes my soul in the best way possible.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
RM: I think it just boils down to others being inconsiderate. Every time I see a drummer taking the cymbals off of the stands onstage I want to slap them. I’m not particularly fond of bands that take way too long to set up and tear down. Have a sense of urgency! Not a big fan of local bills over four bands in most cases, especially if it’s starting at 10pm.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
RM: Honestly, most recently at the second annual Ohio Doomed & Stoned Festival. We played the best set we’ve ever played and the crowd’s energy was INTENSE. The room was packed and we opened with our 16-minute epic from our upcoming album ‘Interzone,’ and there were a few moments where it sounded like the entire room was screaming. I saw a people in the front yelling with their arms raised and it made me amp up the intensity even more. There’s nothing that compares to that feeling of connecting with an audience. After our set, some people rushed the stage and were gushing at the performance. First time I’ve been told that I blew someone’s mind. It was very humbling. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpC2YwZoZNM)
PD: Tell us about your next shows and why we should be there
RM: Our next show is on September 7th at Spacebar. We are releasing our debut LP “Interzone” and will be performing it in its entirety. It’s a huge moment for us as a band. We also have our good friends in Weed Demon and Close the Hatch (Dayton) supporting us. If you are a fan of heavy music and live in Columbus, there’s no reason for you to miss this.