Country of origin: Sweden
Formed in: 2000
Genre: Power Metal with various influences (The band calls this style SID Metal)
Lyrical themes: Enlightenment, Self-confidence, Video Games
Current label: Spinefarm Records
Gibli: Guitars (lead) (2000-present)
Gaz: Guitars (rhythm) (2000-2006, 2011-present), Vocals (2000-present)
Gordon: Keyboards (2000-2006), Guitars (rhythm) (2006-2011), Bass (2011-present)
Nicky: Drums (2009-present)
See also: ex-Domini Magica, ex-Ninja Magic
Tomi Luoma: Guitars (2012-present)
See also: Am I Blood, Kill the Romance, Tuoni, ex-Drowned in Life, ex-Norther (live), ex-Dim Moonlight
THE INTERVIEW (With "Gaz" Rob - Vocals/Rhythm Guitar and Nicky - Drums)
1. The first question that I want to ask is a little odd, but it's been bugging me for quite a while. Your band's name is Machinae Supremacy, and I've always called it that. But is the name actually supposed to be pronounced "Machine Supremacy" with the "a" being silent?
2. I'm also curious as to where that name came from, and what it means to the band.
Rob: It was cyberpunk-inspired to begin with, reflecting a world where the machines reign over humans (and with the implied question, “are we already there?”).
3. How would you describe your music to those who have not heard it before? It's certainly much different from your run of the mill metal, which I've considered to be a very good thing for the most part. Bands that seek to challenge norms will succeed in any musical genre. What bands/musicians/other mediums have inspired your sound?
Rob: This is always the hard part. We know we stand apart but trying to nail down the specifics of that either makes you sound pretentious or just as easily doesn’t quite cover it in the end. I think one obvious aspect is the vocals of course, very far from most metal you’ll find out there. Another is the fact that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we allow for playful ideas and happy-sounding songs or parts of songs. The music is melodic and powerful but also at times happy, cinematical and storybook-like. And of course, there’s the retro video game sounds and influences that permeate our music. Our inspiration comes from everything. Video game music, movie music, pop, rock, metal, dance, you name it. I don’t think there’s any one or a few artists that has inspired our sound, but some have inspired our individual styles. Like I know my vocals have probably been inspired by Tina Root in Switchblade Symphony, and Jonne’s guitarwork echoes his greatest influence Marty Freedman.
4. What bands/musicians are you currently into?
Nicky: King Diamond, Frank Zappa, Paradise Lost, Bloodbath and square-dance.
Rob: Sister Sin and The Birthday Massacre.
5. Your lyrics have an odd way of combining video game scenarios with real-world topics, or society issues. It's a unique way to look at things through the eyes of the gamer. For instance, "Persona" reminds me heavily of the Persona video game series, and yet I found myself profoundly interested in the subject matter, which deals roughly with be pretending to be someone who you are not, "putting on another face" so to speak. What is it that mainly inspires your lyrics?
Rob: Reality inspires our lyrics, but as you say, seen through the eyes of a gamer you gain a whole new perspective on things. Some things are portrayed as being very complex in real life due to rhetoric that circles around what really matters, but when you break them down into their core parts you realize that they are not. Video games and a video game perspective actually helps you do that. Some people would disagree and say that the world is indeed more complex than video games are, and they are not wrong about that, but they are wrong about allowing complexity to confuse us from what is right and wrong.
Nicky: Also, if only we could act in real life as we do in games, to know that we are capable of great things and that what we do matters to the world, our world would be a better place.
6. What are some songs that you felt particularly strongly about in your career, songs that you guys really enjoy playing live?
Nicky: Live: Fury, Dark City.
Rob: Force Feedback is a hallmark for me, and also one of my favorite songs to play live. I think it is the perfect Machinae Supremacy song in so many ways. But I could list 20-30 songs I feel very strongly about, so it’s not an easy thing to answer.
7. You have a very unique vocal style, which is hard to grasp for some people - however I've always felt that it fit the songs perfectly. Do you ever get any flack about the style, since it does sound in some ways very comparable to the style of emo vocals? Of course, I like how you guys completely dismiss the concept in the song I named earlier. (Persona)
Rob: Yes, some people really don’t like it. But the way I see it, there are millions of singers that sound just like the guy from Creed or the guy from Blink 182, and I’m really happy I’m not one of them. The wonderful thing is that the people who don’t have a problem with it usually love it intensely. And many find it hard at first because people do expect a certain formula for a certain music grenre and when something comes along that doesn’t fit you have to get used to it, but end up loving it once they get used to it. So, in short, I’d rather have a bunch of haters than a world of shrugging shoulders.
8. Though you've been on the scene for many years, there are people who are just now hearing your music for the first time. Could you give us a brief history of the band from it's inception to it's current state? I would also like to know more about the band's first video game project, the little known shooter "Jets N Guns" where I first heard your work.
Rob: There is no way to be brief about that. It’s just too much that’s happened. Some of the highlights have been playing with the Royal Philharmonics symphony orchestra, touring with Children of Bodom, Ensiferum and Amon Amarth, reaching 3+ million downloads from our site in 2006, doing the Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams soundtrack this year, and of course Jets’n’Guns soundtrack back in 2004-2005. They approached us and asked us if we were interested and we said yes. It’s very simple, a Czech game studio made a side-scroller shoot’em’up in an era where the side-scroller had been pretty much declared dead, and the game is perhaps not known by everyone but by those who liked retro games and had grown tired of the constant 3D-fication of old game concepts the Jets’n’Guns game was an instant cult classic.
9. Looking back on all that time, what do you think of the current state of the band? How have you improved, reformed your style? What do you think has changed, and what do you plan to do in the future? Might we hear you in more video game soundtracks?
Rob: We’ve matured like any band, but I believe we haven’t changed the way we make music we just try to not repeat ourselves too much and strive towards better production and sound. We might do something special for our next album. Yes, there will be more video game soundtracks.
10. Let's talk about the album. Explain the process for "Rise Of A Digital Nation." What was that like? How do you feel regarding the album? What was your approach for this disc and how do you think it differs from the rest of your material?
Nicky: This was an intense album in its creation. There was no time, and luckily no need either, to think two or three times about how to get the songs right. It was kind of high energy straight forward from everyone and suddenly, there it was. I think this album might differ a bit due to that.
Rob: Nicky’s right, it was a very go-with-your-gut creative process on this one. It means that the material is in some ways “simpler” but it’s also very pure, very true to itself. We wanted to make this album a soundtrack to what we refer to as the generation online, the people who make up our “Digital Nation”. In that respect this album is a collection of fight songs, all geared towards getting your blood pumping in one way or another. We did use some new gear and an alternative mastering process so the album is a lot “warmer” than our previous work, I think, and personally I love that.
11. This one's pretty heady, but I have to discuss it nonetheless. Your band put a free concert onto the Pirate Bay sometime last year. I was a little shocked myself, but I'm sure it was great for promotion. Most artists are scared to death of that website and others like it, but what are your feelings on the nature of album leaking and piracy in general?
Rob: I have a pro-tip for musicians: Don’t fear piracy. Embrace it.
Nicky: Exactly. Which painting is more well-known, the Mona Lisa or Boy With a pipe? Which one has been reproduced the most times in different flavours? Piracy has probably helped our promotion a lot but so has our record company. What we really care about is getting our music out there. The concert was shared because we care about our fans and thought it would be a great opportunity for people who live where we haven’t played live yet to get a good production live video. None of us had to sacrifice another Bentley for that...
12. I'm going to talk about tech in two parts this time, gentlemen. This is because there are obviously two sides to the band. The metal side and the electronic side, wherein electronics play a highly significant role in your band. First, let's talk the metal side. What instruments are you guys using, how long have your been playing them, and what was the inspiration for first picking them up?
Nicky: Pearl Drums since age 11. My sister took me to her blues band’s rehersal. The drummer was at a wedding so the guitarist taught me a basic 4/4... He later gave me a kit and it’s been metal drumming since.
Rob: I guess I’ll answer for the others. :) Both our guitarists are endorsed by Jackson Guitars, and their weapon of choice is the Jackson Kelly. They were both inspired by Megadeth and Marty Friedman’s choice of guitar. Gordon plays an ESP Tom Araya bass.
13. The second question is about the electronic side of the band obviously, the SID chip from which you've coined the term, "SID Metal." Can you give us a background on the chip, and explain some other elements of the band that we may not be familiar with? Also, what goes into the tracks first? The chip tunes or the guitar riffs?
Rob: The SID was the original sound chip for the Commodore 64 home computer, and it has a very unique sonic signature. But the SID is really just one part of it. We use a lot of synth stuff and it’s all programmed in the computer (meaning there’s no one playing keyboards in our band). In the beginning it was mostly just the SID but we’ve sinced added NES (Nintendo 8-Bit) and Amiga-style influences as well just to diversify the sound (and because we love those kinds of sounds as well, very lo-fi and characteristic). There is no recipe for how we make songs or in what order something is added. Anything goes.
14. Might you do any video game cover albums, like Powerglove for example? Are there any video game tunes that you guys would love to have the opportunity to cover, spanning from all console generations? I always liked the Megaman X tunes, myself.
Nicky: 8-bit NES Metroid. Best game music in history. Hirokazu Tanaka’s genius tracks.
Rob: Nicky’s spot on. I could imagine doing a Metroid-medley of some kind.
15. What messages might one discern from your music? I've read the lyrics and some are blatant, while others are quite cryptic ("Rocket Dragon" for example.) At times, it's difficult to understand exactly what you're singing about. What do you want people to take away from your music, and what do songs like "Forced Feedback", "Rise Of A Digital Nation" and "Republic Of Gamers" actually mean in terms of a technological revolution; a digital age, if you will? What do you guys believe in? Are you religious, spiritual, atheist? I've always been curious.
Rob: We are not religious. We believe in equality, freedom, and in protecting our planet. Rise of a Digital Nation and Force Feedback are both about the online generation. You could look at us like a settlers of a new land in a way. We have built vast communities and lifestyles in and around the net and now those who wish to control the way we consume, think and act are moving in. We propose that everyone who cares about justice and freedom fight this with everything they have. We need the open internet, it is the greatest tool for freedom and democracy that has ever existed.
16. Does the track, "99" have anything to do with the 99% movement in New York and elsewhere in the United States, and in parts of Europe? If so, what are your thoughts on this movement? What are your general views on society, and do you think there's a way that we could fix the mess we've caused?
Rob: Yes. I think it’s fucking wonderful. And it’s an example of what I said before. The Occupy-movement would not have been possible before the Internet and social media. Society will always be a social experiment and a work in progress, we try different things and see what works, but one thing that can be fixed is inequality and how we choose to spend our resources and our time.
17. I've definitely got to ask this next question. What are your favorite video games of all time, spanning all console generations? What do you expect from the future of video games?
Nicky: Back to 8-bit Metroid. Pure magic.
Rob: Jet Set Radio Future and Metroid Prime.
18. The government in my country has been debating the right on whether or not homosexual people have the right to marry, for what seems like too long now. I personally wish they'd just let people alone and worry about more important problems. But there's also an approaching future of artificial love, where people are hoping to one day be with a manufactured, robotic mate (kind of like in the popular anime "Chobits.") What are your thoughts on this, being a technologically centered band?
Nicky: Huh?!? Didn’t know that. If mankind gets extinct by boinkin’ robo-mates, mother nature sure has a sense of humour... Otherwise, why worry? Happy people doesn’t hurt others.
Rob: I don’t see a problem with it. Like Nicky says, happy people are better people. The ability to have a robotic mate for those who may experience trouble finding or being compatible with a real one might be what we need to increase overall happiness in society. There are no moral implications as far as I’m concerned. It would just be a more advanced form of sex toy.
19. Let's end this interview on a fun note, if you will. You guys have been playing shows and touring for many years now. What are some bands that have you met, and what was it like to meet them? Lastly, what are some awesome or comical experiences that you guys have had on the road?
Nicky: Ensiferum, C.O.B, Amon Amarth and Kill the Romance.
Rob: Yeah, and Scar Symmetry and Clawfinger; Sahara Hotnights... At the top of my head. It’s always inspirational to meet other performers and see how they do it, and off-stage as well; you get to compare notes and share experiences (and occasionally, some alcohol).
Nicky: I once traded a signed drumstick for a fresh pair of socks...
Rob: I once fell into a snakepit of cosplayers. Shit happens. :)
Thanks guys, for your answers. "Rise Of A Digital Nation" is available now both digitally and on a physical disc. You can either buy it or get a copy from the band exclusively from The Pirate Bay.
Also, don't forget about this link, where you can get many of their earlier releases for free: