1- Who are you?
MANNY: We are a music band called Evolution Machine, from Perth, Western Australia. The line up consists of Brooke Anderton on vocals (she is the sister of David Anderton, who is the vocalist in Chaos Divine). Then we have the two Syzygy guys, Damien Petrilli on drums and Jarred Scagliotta on guitars. On bass there is Matthew Bailey (or just Bailey) who plays in Trident Winter, and on keyboards there is Guy Lillico who used to play in Shadowplay (or for those of us who can remember just a little further back, Modus Vivendi). Myself – I play guitar, and have come from a band by the name of Voyager. There were certain members in this band that also played in Black Steel, but I’ll keep their identities secret for their own personal safety J heheh.
2- What’s the origin of that name?
MANNY: At a time when I was not in a band, I decided that I really need to play live again, so I decided to make up what I though could be a cool sounding name. I basically strung two different words together without much thought…and thus the band name was born. I made a quick logo and a MySpace page followed. I just needed to find some people to join.
3- When did you form your band?
MANNY: The earliest formation of the band was back in 2007. I told Damo about the name and my ideas. He wasn’t doing anything in the scene at the time, and I think he joined because he liked the name. I’d been thinking about contacting Guy for the keyboard slot, and Damo mentioned his name too…in the end it wasn’t hard to get Guy on board.
After a number of rehearsals together, we got Jarred in…and slowly, found the remainder of the people we needed, Brooke then Bailey. Once we get the entire band together we pieced together the songs from the ideas we had come up with earlier. I’d say that around when Brooke joined the band in 2009 is when we really started to make songs properly.
4- What inspired you to make music together?
BROOKE: I liked the style of music a LOT after my brother showed it to me on MySpace (he’d seen the ad on WF and suggested I audition), I was procrastinating from writing my honours thesis…. but had been meaning to get into a long term music project for a while. EM had a lot of potential for making interesting music.
BAILEY: I think everyone in the band simply wanted to write music with no preconceived ideas about how we wanted to sound like. We write songs, and however they end up is how they are meant to be.
MANNY: Plus, for some of us it came out of the need to play live again J
5- What brands do you all use? Is anyone an endorsee?
BROOKE: ‘Shure’ in-ear monitoring system I bought off my bro
GUY: Roland and M-Audio keyboards plus FL Studio and many different synth plugins used to compose a lot of the background production.
DAMO: Sonor Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Aquarian Heads, ProMark Sticks, Roland electronics, LP percussion. I endorse Sonor drums globally, and Sabian cymbals, ProMark Sticks and Aquarian Drumheads Nationally.
BAILEY: I play a Spector 5 string bass through a David Eden head and Gallien Krueger cab…I’m a big fan of this combination.
MANNY: My Fender Custom Shop and Wolfgang guitars are my favourites, but I had a guitar built by Perry Ormsby and I haven’t put that thing down since I got back in Dec 2009 – that guitar is ALIVE! For amps and effects I use Peavey 5150, Signal Station, BOSS effects and my trusty Rocktron Pirhana preamp.
Jarred uses Ibanez guitars and Marshall amps.
6- What genre of music do you consider your work to be? And who are your major influences?
BROOKE: At the most general level – Progressive-rock…no matter how much Manny tries to convince the world we are metal. Tori Amos, Byörk, Chris Cornell, Muse, Ark, Faith No More, NIN,VAST
GUY: Genre is a dirty word haha! Every member of the band has unique musical tastes and i think this is reflected in the music we write. I’m particularly fascinated with the industrial sound and love to throw it into the mix whenever the moment calls for it. Too many to name, but to name a few of my own, I would say Front Line Assembly, Haujobb, Paradise Lost, VAST, Opeth, Pink Floyd, Fear Factory, The Church.
DAMO: I don’t. Our music is our music. If it needs to be given a label for other people to decide what we are, they can make one up for themselves. Symphony X, Allen-Lande, Meshuggah, John WIlliams, Michael Land.
BAILEY: We are a fruit salad of genres. There is some proggy/off beat stuff…there is a real industrial sound to everything we write…and at times we can be melodic or a bit rocky… Everyone in the band listens to different styles of music. My personal influences would be Pain of Salvation, TOOL, COG, RATM.
MANNY: I’d call us metal…melodic metal – I think we tick the criteria for it. We’re definitely not the heaviest band out there (not even close) but I’m definitely not afraid to call us metal. I’d settle for heavy melodic music if I can’t use metal…but for simplicity, just ‘metal’ is perfect for me. These days I listen to big wide berth of stuff, power metal, certain black metal, melodic death, classic metal, industrial/electro metal, AOR, Rock etc…I’m not that big on prog stuff these days unless there is a great song driving it. I’m also very influenced by people who I have played with in previous bands (like Mark from Psychonaut or Danny from Voyager).
7- Evolution Machine is a kind of ‘supergroup’ made up of ex members from some well established Perth metal bands. Do you think there is some pressure to ‘live up’ or ‘live down’ to your previous bands successes and failures?
BROOKE: It seems to have made some people curious about what the new music will sound like – can’t say much more than that really.
GUY: Yep, we are definitely feeling the pressure! However, EM is a completely different act though, an ‘evolution’ from previous bands with fresh ideas and requiring an open mind.
DAMO: It’s a real concern for me, because prior bands I’ve been in (and perhaps built a reputation within) are so different to what we’re doing in this band and I wonder whether the people who loved those bands will relate to what Evolution Machine has to offer. That being said, it is a new band, and every new band needs time to gather its listeners. Some will come along from prior scenes, and hopefully a lot of new people will discover it from different scenes.
Because Evolution Machine is very deliberately focused on the BAND effort as one entity, there has been a need to think more about the overall effect of the music, rather than the individual flashy stuff each of us may be itching to put into the music. In previous bands, I could kinda goof off a little and throw in some crazy stuff, because the room was there. Live, Evolution Machine may do something similar, but it is too big a band (6 members!) and therefore each individual’s role has to be a lot more refined and focused.
BAILEY: I think if anything it makes it harder on us as people will be coming to our gigs with preconceived ideas of what they would like to see, considering the bands members have previously been in. I would like people to turn up with an open mind and put us on a fresh slate to make what you would like of Evolution Machines music.
MANNY: For me, I think there was in the beginning, but now I just want to concentrate on creating the best songs that we can. But as Bailey says, people might be coming with a preconceived notion of what we might be about, and I hope we don’t disappoint those people, because this band is something other than any of those band.
Does it drive you to succeed even more?
BROOKE: Maybe? Having done some touring and lots of shows has given the guys a lot of ideas, experience and a taste for gigging
GUY: I think it helps. We all naturally have very driven personalities though and we are a little older and wiser (at least we like to think we are wiser haha)!
DAMO: What I achieved in other bands does not enter into a new project. That was then, and this is now. I learn from those projects, and can hypothesize over why they may have had a good reaction on an audience, but that cannot dictate how I approach a totally different band.
It does drive me to be more creative, though. In a way its like learning to play again from scratch. I have had to adapt how I play to make the parts for this band work, and I still struggle very much with it. Of course, singing and running backing sequences, as well as drumming brings new challenges to the table. Even though I’m not playing nearly as technically as I may have done in other bands, my brain is having to focus on so much more. It’s difficult, I make mistakes, and I have to concentrate. Having to control this has really taught me to get the most out of each part and not to simply bury the music under a flurry off odd-time beats and crazy double-kick fills.
BAILEY: We are all very driven. I’m not sure how much this has to do with everyone’s previous band experiences though.
8- Is your band willing to ‘sell out’ to make it? Is it even possible to sell out these days?
BROOKE: Half of music is playing it and the other half is the promotion aspect of it once you decide to take it out of the garage… if your style of music is more likely to be played on the radio then you’re probably going to get more people listening to it – doesn’t mean they’ll like it but it will reach a greater audience and increase your chance of that music getting you somewhere. There’s nothing wrong with wanting that! Some of our music is heavier and some isn’t as heavy but it would be great to get airplay on the commercial radio stations.
GUY: You mean be less progressive? 🙂 I guess some of our songs could be radio-friendly but this is by no means deliberate. We set out with a vision purely to create epic, memorable songs by any means possible.
DAMO: The music scene is so sucked-in and directionless right now, I think you’d have to be an idiot to get into music for money or fame. Bands don’t really get to decide their outcome anyway, so its best to just enjoy what you’re doing and who you’re making music with.
BAILEY: A lot of what we have written could be radio friendly music. Is this selling out? I don’t say so because we haven’t set out for it to end up that way. We have tried to make music that is easy to listen to…there is no use playing a thousand notes a second for 5 minutes if people aren’t paying attention to every one of those notes.
MANNY: I’m not sure if it’s selling out if we are ‘sold-out’ right from the beginning, right? Hehe, seriously though we just want to write great songs that are memorable, fairly basic yet interesting.
9- Which songs stand out as your ‘defining’ moments?
BROOKE: Definitely ‘Lullaby’. The first song that we finished which seemed to give us the first idea of what our style was.
GUY: I love them all.. but ‘Come With Me’ i think is definately gonna get some heads moving 🙂
DAMO: For me, ‘Nensha’. I’ve had the song for six years now and I’ve actually been looking for the right band to play it in! As a band, I think ‘Lullaby’ or ‘Come With Me’ pretty much sum up our sound. I guarantee you these songs will be very different in a year though, as live playing tends to change your material a lot once its put in front of an audience.
BAILEY: I think “Come with Me” is a bit of an anthem for us. It was the first song we could put a fullstop on and be happy with it’s completion.
MANNY: ‘Lullaby’ is the song for me – I love the vocal melody, which for me is the most important ingredient for a good song. Plus I love the electro stuff in the middle.
10- What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs?
BROOKE: We wanted to find some sort of concept and there was talk of 2012 but making it more ambiguous made it more fun to write interesting lyrics that people could interpret in their own way. I’ve tried to find different examples of the interface between reality and the imagination which is pretty broad. Each song represents a different aspect of this as a concept.
GUY: REAL ones. Brooke does a wonderful job of bringing this to the band.
11- Do you think these topics will change over time?
BROOKE: Probably – I have some ideas for lyrics after that are more personal, less surreal but will still be left a bit vague so that the listener is able to drawn their own conclusions and take home their own meanings
DAMO: The topics we discuss range from very ‘now’ stuff like the state of the world environment, but also timeless issues like schizophrenia. I did joke with the other guys that if this was going to be a prog band, I didn’t want any references to time, fire or fate.
MANNY: Maybe we can write a song about leather. I love a little humour in songs, a band like Helloween did that style perfectly, but I also like dark subject matter or things that are left of field…although to me, the melody of the vocals is more important than subject.
12- Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
MANNY: Usually we try to create ideas at home, preferably a whole song and then it’s brought in to the band and worked on…a lot….we’re not really a jamming band. I sometimes have a hard time convincing the other 5 people that my ideas are the best, heheh.
13- What are your rehearsals generally like?
DAMO: Very work orientated, as we are all very busy. Often we will debate over issues – In fact, if I recall correctly it’s usually my stubbornness against everyone else! Truth be told, its a great setup to have. Nobody holds back and the honesty is a great thing. We can tell others how we feel without fear of anybody misconstruing it as a personal attack. We’re all pretty mature (old?) with the ins-and-outs of being in a band, so although we do take time to write songs, when we’re in the studio, we work well and discuss things openly.
BAILEY: Very structured. In the writing process we will generally play what we have so far, then bit by bit break each part down and discuss any work that needs to be done.
14- How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
DAMO: I think we are just now starting to make the music come alive. By that I mean that we are just getting to a point where we are really in command of what we’re playing, and now we’re starting to really get into the emotion of the songs.
BAILEY: As a full line up we are still fairly young so I don’t think there has been enough time pass for any “evolution” of our music. I think after being on stage and experiencing how the crowd react to our music we will be able to go away and have a better idea of the direction that feels best to go in.
MANNY: Without a singer in the beginning we had no direction with the arrangements, just a lot of ideas that we were trying to flow together. Since Brooke has come in, we now know how long the verses and chorus are J
15- Most of you guys used to have long hair. Is it just part of the Heavy Metal ‘uniform’?
BROOKE: They guys had long hair and I had short hair. Now they all have short hair and I have long hair. This means that I am better than them ;p
DAMO: Bollocks to that! – although I would say that, being that I now lose more hair than I can grow. Personally, Im a little ‘over’ the cliches of metal. On the one hand we have muso’s proudly proclaiming that they can be free to write, act and dress how they want in the metal scene, and then on the same token will talk-down another band who doesn’t necessarily look or sound ‘true-metal’. The bottom line is that we play what we enjoy playing, and the day it isnt fun anymore… I’m outta here! Metal crowds have always been the most accepting of bands I have been in, but there will no doubt be those within that scene who wont ‘get’ Evolution Machine or who will struggle to admit they like it to others because it doesnt fit the traditional mold of what a metal band is, but thats ok. Im prepared for it, and we’re loving the stuff we write.
BAILEY: Absolutely…we aren’t boys on stage anymore….we are men…plus Brooke 😛 lt;/p>
MANNY: I miss the hair playing live. I can now afford more stuff since I’m not spending 90% of my pay check on shampoos, conditioners, nut and berries.
16- What’s your ultimate direction for your band?
BROOKE: west…life is peaceful there.
DAMO: A great live show backed with CDs that transcend the “Pretty good…for a local band” mentality. I would love to see it get intertnational interest.
MANNY: I want to make the songs catchier, heavier, faster and have some cool electro sounds and other cool soundscapes.
17- Are you seeking fame and fortune and drug addictions?
BROOKE: Fortune wouldn’t be too bad 🙂 but avoid the mind-altering substances
GUY: Im happy just to play to a receptive audience these days.. but if anything more happens.. sweet! No drugs though.
BAILEY: Sex drugs and rock and roll for sure…Evolution Machine’s drug of choice is caffiene 😛
MANNY: Yes – looks like I get all the drugs. If I end up with too many, you can find me at a high school making the fortune you just mentioned.
18- What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?
BROOKE: Compatible personalities are probably more important than similar tastes in music
GUY: Set up an idea, have a vision to create something unique and do it!
DAMO: Before you pick up an instrument, pick up a pen and learn the political side of the industry. Learn how to manage, promote, network… THESE are what will make or break your success as a band. We don’t like to believe that our music is secondary to this, but in my experience, it most certainly is. Swallow your pride and start taking courses in management.
BAILEY: Get off your ass, stop procrastinating and do it!
MANNY: Make the best songs you can and get out there. Of course there is the ‘backside’ to music, so make friends, contacts…and promo yourself.
19- Due to the amount of horrendous piracy in the world, has the Internet killed music?
GUY: For sales figures, maybe. But it’s a double-edged sword. I reckon about 90% of the bands I listen to. I would not have discovered if it wasn’t for the internet and if you know how to market yourself online, the internet becomes an extremely powerful tool.
DAMO: For some, perhaps, but I think it’s a lot worse for large-scale commercial bands, who don’t tend to have as loyal a fan base. Most of the prog and metal crew still get a great deal of satisfaction from physically owning the CD’s, the artwork. For that reason, I think the internet actually helps us. We don’t have huge labels throwing money into us, so there’s no expectation to recoup anything here. We put a CD out, and if it sells, great. If we don’t, then it’s back to our day jobs!
20- Has social networking sites (Facespoof) etc replaced the humble Heavy Metal poster culture as the main advertising medium?
DAMO: I don’t think it will ever replace the need to go out and put a poster up, and any band that has advertised only on these sites and had nobody show at their concerts can attest to this. It has to be a multi-faceted approach. Social networks are one thing, but you still need to get out there, put the posters up and talk to people face to face. In the old days, so much time and hard work had to go into promoting. When you put in that sort of effort, you will try to convince every single person to get down there and support, and maybe the supporters saw that belief and felt compelled to participate. Social networks, as broad as they may be, are very impersonal and lack that emotional connection that comes with talking to a band member or seeing their hard work up close.
BAILEY: For sure…it sure has made getting word of gigs out to the world incredibly easy.
MANNY: It’s good to cover as many bases as you can.
21- Can your band break through or does it seem nearly impossible to reach the status of Metallica?
DAMO: Well, since labels don’t have nearly the money they used to have to push bands the way that they used to, I believe options are limited. But on the plus side it does mean that we can be a lot more in control of our own direction. Bands pretty much have to tour these days to make any money out of it, and I know I’ve got 5 people alongside me that are happy to do what is needed, should the signs be good for the band when we start playing out.
22- How can fans-to-be gain access to your music?
BROOKE: Come see us at the Civic on the 13th Feb.
GUY: We hope to start recording an album before too long and we are just working on some samples for our website. Sign up for our e-newsletter and we will keep you updated:
MANNY: …and don’t forget about our MySpace page: www.myspace.com/evolutionmachine and we are also on Facebook.
23- Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD?
MANNY: We placed song samples on our MySpace in the past, but we’ve taken it down…but we hope to have something up there in the near future.
24- Who would win in a game of Chess… A Death Metal band or a Prog Band?
GUY: Either could win if they were a Prog Death Metal band. A Polka band would always win at Poker though 🙂
DAMO: The Death Metal band. Unfortunately, the prog band would probably have their focus on their next 23 minute epic song and miss some of the vital moves, resulting in them getting check-mated. Even if the prog band should win the chess match, the death metal band would likely shoot them in cold blood or burn down their houses afterwards.
BAILEY: A death metal band wouldn’t be able to sit still in the same place for long enough to play a game of chess…
MANNY: A prog band doesn’t pull people’s arms out of their socket when they lose.
25- Should bands ‘steal’ from their influences or learn from them?
GUY: Some people will call it stealing and other won’t. The reality is that Remix Culture is here to stay and it shows itself in all forms of art and media.
BAILEY: Learn for sure…but it does seem to get harder and harder to do anything original that hasn’t been done before, so the line is very blurred.
26- Any last words?
BROOKE: (Allegro) ll:RED LORRY YELLOW LORRY:ll
GUY: Cheers for the interview 🙂
DAMO: See you on the 13th!
MANNY: Thanks for the interview Mark. Please check us out online and on stage! You can also sign up for our newsletter on our website…and we hope to see you at our launch at the Civic on the 13th Feb.
Interview by Mark De Vattimo (from Psychonaut).
Photos by Tim Masih.