If you’re into your synths, it’s not up for negotiating — you need to listen to Echo Machine immediately. I caught up with their vocalist, Gary, to discuss the band’s past and future…
RECORD WEEKLY’S INTERVIEW WITH ECHO MACHINE
Hey hey, how are you all?
Hello! We’re well… or as well as five Scottish people can be in a heatwave. Our practice room is currently hotter than the surface of the sun.
Haha I know that feeling, though my WFH setup is actually quite cool at the moment, it has to be said. So then, take us back to day one — how did you all meet and form the band?
I always feel like I should tell an elaborate lie whenever anyone asks that question. Create some comic book origin story about us being drawn together by elemental forces, or us all being long lost siblings, reunited at last! But it’s all pretty dull really…
Me [Gary] and our guitarist, Mike, have been in a few bands together, ending up as sort of the last men standing from long-dead scenes. We met Lewis (synths) around Dundee, at gigs and bars, until one day we had the “We’ve got a band that needs a keyboard player”, “Oh, I’m a keyboard player” chat. Hannah and Heather we met through a friend from Edinburgh and, like me and Mike, they’d played in bands together previously. But, unlike me and Mike, they’re sisters.
We all hit it off pretty instantly. As clichéd as it may sound, we’re all a bit odd really; outsiders in the original sense of the word, as opposed to the corporate, Instagram sense. I couldn’t really imagine us in any other band but this one.
Nice, my kind of scene. Which artists have had the biggest influences on your sound?
That’s a tricky one. I think part of why we all get on so well as a band is because we are all multi-genre music perverts haha, just as comfortable obsessing about Deftones and Gojira as we are about MF DOOM or The Human League.
Is there any other way to be?! RIP MF DOOM.
I guess we all find common ground on bands like Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, The Smiths, Queens of the Stone Age, Arcade Fire and a general love of synth pop, though.
Your 2020 album, ‘Instant Transmissions’, is absolutely incredible. How has that been received since its release?
Thank you very much! Releasing that album was an odd experience really. We recorded it, then spent a year sitting on it, building towards the release, which finally came at the end of February 2020. A few weeks later, the pandemic hit and the world locked down.
Other than a couple of stripped-back, record shop in-store shows, we’ve never actually been able to play the album live since its release. It was great for a few weeks, though. The album got into the Top 10 of the UK Record Store Chart and the Scottish Album Chart, which came as a surprise! It made a few end-of-year polls as well, which was also great, considering the release was all very DIY, with zero budget for PR and all of those shenanigans.
That’s very commendable, congrats. How has the past year been since then, with the pandemic?
There have been two very distinct halves to the last year for us as a band. After the initial disappointment of not being able to get out and promote the album had passed, we realised that we were all locked in the house, with pretty much nothing to do but work on music.
I know a lot of people struggled to be creative in lockdown or felt too much pressure to do so, but thankfully that wasn’t the case for us. I’d felt pretty creatively devoid for the previous few months, then hit a hot streak in lockdown, fortunately. So, what followed were months of demos, writing, sending each other half-formed song ideas and little recording projects. It felt kind of exciting, knowing that soon we’d be back out in the world with this arsenal of new music.
But then lockdown never really went away. Christmas came and went, we were able to start practising together again, but there were no gigs, no studios or anything like that. So, a sense of frustration and depression took hold. It feels like that fog is now lifting though, and we can see a path out.
Oh that’s good to hear. It’s been a truly tough time across the board. What’s next on the horizon then? Can you tease any gigs or upcoming releases?
We’ve started recording again. We did a couple of songs with producer Stephen “SAW” Watkins in May, and will be going back to record some more in August. At this stage, we aren’t really sure what form that will take. We’ll definitely have new music of some sort out in the coming months. We’d love to make a new album, but like most bands on earth, the pandemic has financially ruined us, so that might be a bit of a long shot at this stage.
We do indeed have some gigs on the horizon, though, finally! We have a couple of headline shows in Edinburgh and Glasgow on 1st and 2nd October, at Sneaky Pete’s and Broadcast, respectively. There’s also one at MacArts in Galashiels on 26th November, as well as a couple of support shows with The Ninth Wave in Dundee on 20th October 20th and with FOREIGNFOX at PJ’s in Dunfermline on 20th November.
Ultimately, we didn’t want to book anything too soon post-lockdown, as it felt a little risky, and we are most certainly not the kind of band that can be enjoyed while sitting politely at tables. We are in the midst of rehearsals now, making sure everything is as perfect as possible for those shows, before the adrenaline kicks in and ruins everything.