Interview: The Machinist
With everything happening in the world and in our home city, myself and the rest of the band do feel that it’s important to speak up about shit that is absolutely horrific in so many ways.
The Machinist deal in full on metal with a whole host of hardcore anger, deathcore breakdowns, electronic flourishes, crucial melodies and an in your face attitude that deals with a whole host of problems that are prevalent in todays society. The Queens, NY four piece have just released their new album, the aptly titled, All Is Not Well and it is as hard hitting lyrically as it is musically. Gavin Brown spoke to Amanda Gjelaj (vocals) and Josh Gomez (guitar) from The Machinist to discuss the new album and whole range of other topics released to the band including dealing with those social problems in their music, memorable gigs and highlights from the first decade of band.
E&D: Your new album All Is Not Well is out now. What has the reaction been like so far?
Amanda: It’s been amazing. There has been a lot of support with this release, much more than either of us could have anticipated; and the love is overwhelming.
E&D: Is the title of the album a reflection on the state of the world right now and how it has been over the past couple of years?
Josh: Absolutely. While this record was being made, we were right at the height of the pandemic, and we live in what essentially is ground zero for COVID. With the pandemic and the astounding amount of police brutality, nothing in the world seemed to be well. Hence “All is Not Well”.
E&D: The incendiary ‘PIG’ opens up the album. Did you want to make a statement by opening up the album with such a stirring song?
Josh: So ‘PIG’ was Initially going to be the opener of the album, prior to lyrics being introduced. With the lyrical content being so strong with our beliefs, we felt even stronger about PIG opening up this record.
E&D: Do you feel it is even more important dealing with social problems with your music now than it ever has been?
Amanda: With everything happening in the world and in our home city, myself and the rest of the band do feel that it’s important to speak up about shit that is absolutely horrific in so many ways. From politics to mental health, I’m glad that we are able to be in this scene and speak up about certain topics that some people might be afraid to assert.
E&D: Has the feedback from songs like ‘PIG’ and earlier songs like ‘Empire State Of Emergency’ been both positive and negative due to the issues you deal with in the songs?
Josh: Oh definitely. Some people just can’t seem to grasp a reality different from their own. People call us names for just expressing how we see the world, and it just is what it is. We’re going to continue to make music our way and express ourselves in the manner we want.
E&D: ‘Hourglass’ marks a different vibe and sound from the rest of the songs on the album. Can you tell us about that song and how it fits on the album?
Amanda: This song definitely came as a shock to our fans because it’s a ballad, but the lyrical content is still in ‘theme’ with the rest of the album and it fits perfectly in my opinion. We also always strive for diversity in our music so this is a great example of doing something different.
E&D: Did you always want this album to be as musically diverse as you could?
Josh: Honestly, we’ve always strived to expand on our sound as much as we could. This new record is definitely our most diverse release so far and it leaves room for experimentation in our sound.
E&D: The Machinist have always had an electronic music influence in your sound. How important has this been for the band?
Josh: Not that important at all, actually. We just enjoy sprinkles of it here and there.
E&D: How did you get into electronic music in the first place?
Amanda: For me personally I’ve always listened to freestyle from the early 90’s and house music. So it’s always been a part of my life and my music rotation.
E&D: Who are some of your favourite electronic music artists of all time?
Amanda: David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Daft Punk, Lisa Lisa, Tiesto.
E&D: How did your recent album release show for All Is Not Well go and what were some of the highlights?
Josh: It went amazing! Lots of hometown love, both new and familiar faces. I also got engaged mid set so that was pretty exciting! Definitely our best hometown show we’ve ever played by far.
E&D: Did you play the new album in full and will your upcoming gigs be a lot of new material?
Amanda: We’ve not played the new album in full yet, however, it would be amazing to eventually do that in the future. We like to play different songs from all our albums live to add diversity to our sets.
E&D: What are your touring plans for the rest of the year?
Josh: Nothing as of right now, but that’s not to say nothing will pop up, so keep an eye out!
E&D: What have been some of the most memorable shows that The Machinist has ever done?
Amanda: Honestly, we have played some very amazing shows. I would’ve never thought in a million years that we would have played with some of the bands that we have played with. There are so many that are memorable to me that it’s hard to say. I always love playing at home in New York City because there’s a certain energy that resonates in our scene so no matter who we’re playing with or opening for, it’s always an amazing and memorable experience.
E&D: Who have been the biggest influence on the sound of The Machinist?
Amanda and Josh: Slipknot
E&D: The band reside from Queens, NY. Who are your all time favourite bands from the borough?
Josh: Kiss and Sworn Enemy.
E&D: How does the city of New York inspire the sound and ideas of The Machinist?
Amanda: We definitely get inspiration from NYC. New York is a very active and wild place. There’s so much happening all the time, everyone’s always running a million miles a second. Being in such a famous, beautiful city that is erratic at times, and has been through so many very real situations, it would be impossible to not have inspiration.
E&D: What are some of your favourite albums and artists that sum up New York for you?
Josh: Any Diplomats album.
Amanda: I agree with Josh. Dipset!
E&D: Who have been some of the biggest musical influences for you in your life?
Amanda: Growing up my main influence and my reason for wanting to become a metal vocalist was Otep and Kittie. Being a 13 year old girl and seeing women in the metal scene was so inspiring and I always wanted to inspire others the same way. Now as an adult I get a lot of influence from many bands. There are so many brilliant musicians out there and I never tie myself down to one genre. If I have to give a list of 5 bands outside of the ones I have already listed above, they would be, Job For A Cowboy, Behemoth, Slipknot, Gojira and Cattle Decapitation.
Josh: I’d say Cradle of Filth, Slipknot, Decapitated, Misery Signals, and Meshuggah.
E&D: The Machinist formed a decade ago, how have things evolved for the band over that time?
Josh: The opportunities have definitely changed for us, being able to play with bands we all grew up listening to and idolizing, has been surreal. Also to be able to call some of these people friends and peers; never did I think our music would get us this far and allow us to experience things only a small number of people get to do all because of music.
E&D: What have been some of the highlights of those ten years?
Josh and Amanda: There’s so many, but Loud fest 2016 in New Jersey definitely comes to mind. Some of the members of bands we love watched our set and it was one of the biggest crowds we had played to. Talk about nerve wrecking haha.
Photo by Adam Alexander