Like a cross between THE CURE and ALPHAVILLE producing a fusion of synthpop and rock n roll, vocalist John Lindqwister and instrumentalist Richard Flow have added conventionally flavoured twists like guitars and cellos.
Refining their anthemic signature sound as well as reflecting today’s darker times, MACHINISTA’s gloomy club-friendly template went down a storm recently with the regulars at alternative club night Exit The Grey when the duo, accompanied by versatile guitarist Mattias Johansson, supported Mexican aggro-tech duo HOCICO at Electrowerkz in London.
While they were in the city, MACHINISTA chatted to The Electricity Club about the genesis of ‘Anthropocene’ and much more…
The ‘Anthropocene’ album has been a long time coming, are there any particular reasons?
Richard: Oh yes, many reasons for this. We did switch to a new label, so we had to work this out. I did a lot of remix-work for other bands as well as producer-work with the Swedish band PAGE. John has a bunch of side-projects as well he did work on and also we had a lot of focus on gigs during these years. But all this time we did record songs and released some singles as well. We did participate on several tribute albums, re-releases and stuff. Also private-life comes between sometimes so yeah this album took many years to finish for many reasons. You won´t need to wait years for the next release *laughs*
Richard: With our first label, there was some problems for sure. After that label closed down, we signed to UK based label Analoguetrash. We really liked that label, very kind people and easy to work with, but at the same time we started to play a lot more in Germany. Germany is really the best country for our kind of music so when we did get an offer from Infacted Recordings, we jumped on that train and it feels really good! The guys at Analoguetrash understood our situation and a chance for us to go in the direction we needed. We still have good contact with Analoguetrash so no hard feelings there.
Does a modern electronic pop band with a niche audience actually need a record label these days?
Richard: I guess not. It’s easy nowadays to do it by yourself and promote with YouTube, Facebook and all that. But at the same time, we are traditional when it comes to releasing physical CDs and that is so much easier with a label running all that for you. Also our current label Infacted Recordings is an established label in our genre with good connections when it comes to distribution, promotion and all that. Of course these days as a band you have to promote a lot by yourself to reach out, but with a label doing this work as well we can focus much more on the main thing, to record new songs!
John: Actually it’s not a conscious thing that it ended up like that, haha! Maybe my brain has sucked up too much negative stuff listening on the radio every day.
Well I write about dark stuff and difficulties in life, but I think I put hope in there as well. ‘Anthropocene’ indicates a rough image of the future but we can change that. I hope 😉
The overall sound has become harder, still electronic but with more guitars?
Richard: Yes that’s correct! From the start we never really had any rules when it comes to the sound. However, our first album had a lot synth-pop songs for sure. When we started to write songs for ‘Garmonbozia’, we wanted to go into a darker direction. Dark, moody songs are a lot more fun to write and make me more happy than sunny pop songs. During this time we also started to have a guitarist on stage and it fitted in a lot more to a harder, darker sound.
Norway’s APOPTYGMA BERZERK appears to have been a big influence?
Richard: Well, yeah you know I listen to a wide range of music and APOP has always been a favourite band. I like that Stephan Groth does whatever he wants every time they release a new album. No rules. It’s similar to what we do. Then of course they have a great back-catalogue of songs! MACHINISTA was also part of the APOPTYGMA BERZERK tribute album that was released some years ago.
The excellent ‘Anthropocene’ title song even slips in the haunting riff of APOP’s ‘Burning Heretic’?
Richard: Yes, it was meant to be a little “tribute” to that song in the intro of ‘Anthropocene’. From the beginning, it was almost identical but then I did change some of the notes.
Richard: We have met a few times during the years. He did a remix of ‘Dark Heart Of Me’, I also did mastering for the APOPTYGMA BERZERK remix of the PAGE song ‘Krash’. Recently I did a solo-gig and performed a lot of cover-songs. Among them, the classic Apoptygma song ‘Eclipse’. Stephan was at this event so he joined me on stage on that one. Very good fun!
Despite the harder aesthetic, ‘Astrid’ is quite cinematic and orchestrated featuring the very talented Karin My on cello?
Richard: This song turned out really well! The original demo was more electronic but when John added the vocals, I heard something else in my head. I thought about for a long time to do a song a lot more like THE CURE, that alternative feeling and this one was perfect. Karin My is a brilliant musician and singer so we are really happy that she was part of this song. Also Mattias’ guitar-playing did add a new dimension to it.
Having previously covered ‘Heroes’, ‘Anthropocene’ closes with another Bowie connected cover in THE BEATLES ‘Across The Universe’?
John: I wanted to do that cos it’s good song and as a small homage to my mother who named me after him and her being a big fan. And I’m a universe kind of guy!
You like your cover versions, you have been doing FRONT 242 ‘No Shuffle’ at recent gigs?
Richard: Yes, THIS London-gig actually! 😄
John: There have been so many covers, it has to stop 😜
The guitar has entered the live fray as well, although what Mattias Johansson does is complimentary and not overplayed, one minute he’s Midge Ure, then he uses an E-bow and then, it’s like THE SISTERS OF MERCY! *laughs*
Richard: We are more than happy to have Mattias with us! He is a great guitarist and always comes up with great melodies and stuff. The trick is to add a guitar that blends in good to the original music. Mattias does this and more! Also a great and funny guy to hang with, so we all have very fun together.
‘Anthropocene’ is probably your most consistent body of work to date, which are your own favourite songs on it and why?
Richard: Hmm. that changes from day to day. At the moment I would say ‘Astrid’. That song turned out almost exactly the way I wanted.
What’s next for you, either individually or as MACHINISTA?
Richard: We will play in Copenhagen on 30th August at Elektroland, that will be a lot of fun! At the moment we are also working on new songs that feel really nice. The sound will take a step in a different direction. We are exploring new dark territories. It will still sound MACHINISTA of course 😉
John: I have CAT RAPES DOG and we are going to do a few shows, plus there’s the new project I have with Jonas from TRAIN TO SPAIN called FOLK ÄR FOLK. And Flow is in the live set with us. That will be fun.
The Electricity Club gives its grateful thanks to MACHINISTA
Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Simon Helm
10th August 2019