Failure Machine has somehow channeled the ghosts of late great soul/R&B artists, dirtied them up (in a good way) and electrified them. A grungier Sam Cooke, if ya get me. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. What is going on out there in Reno lately? Another example of great music coming out of one-armed bandit land!
We caught up with the guys to chat about getting drunk and eating pizza, Halle Berry and supergroups, here's how we got on....
Please introduce the band and your music in one sentence....
Garage-soul from Reno, Nevada that will make you feel pretty ok.
You’re called Failure Machine how did you choose this name?
Clint and I were in a band called The Big Bad and we were recording at Dogwater Studios in Sparks. On the fridge, there’s an ever growing list of potential band names that bands who have recorded there have come up with and Failure Machine was on that list, it was perfect. I’ve been in a lot of bands and I don’t think there’s a more appropriate name for a group of musicians. There is nothing that comes more easily to me than failing.
'Target' and 'Don’t Get so Down' are on the Pizza Foam EP, how did this come about and why these two tracks and why Joan and the Rivers?
We met Joan and The Rivers about a year ago and realized that they were our band soul mates. We all really like drinking beer and eating an inappropriate amount of pizza…. and they’re just a really cool rock band.
We released the split together so we’d have an excuse to hang out, record, and play shows together for a few days. The tunes were just what we had been working on at the time. We had “Target” pretty much down but the other song we wrote for the split was shitty so we covered the Synthesize Her tune.
Did Johnny Cash ever shoot a man in Reno?
Oh man, I don’t know. I was pretty high when all that went down, all I know is that he’s not allowed in the El Dorado anymore.
Would you rather live with a dog that sings lullabies or a gorilla that can do sign language? Explain your answer
It depends on whether or not the gorilla is Vin Diesel because I’d much rather see him do sign language than hear a dog sing anything but if it’s just your standard gorilla, I’ll take the dog.
In your opinion, what is the BEST album/record ever released and why?
Probably Pizza Foam by Failure Machine & Joan and The Rivers… it’s just got everything anyone ever needs. I mean, yeah it’s a little politically heavy but that’s what we do, we tackle issues. Like, it’s bullshit that I can’t buy beer in California past 2 AM, how am I supposed to get my rage on with my friends if I can’t get really drunk then go to the store and get a few bedtime 40s? I’m just looking for a little change and some common sense from the guys in Washington, ya know?
What annoys you?
When I go to look for my signed Gavin DeGraw album and Clint’s napping with it in the back of his van.
If you had a chance to put together your own ‘super group’, who would be in it? (only living members please)
Gia Torcaso (Reno musician)- bass
Kyle Fisher (The Dirty Nil)- drums
Guy Keltner (Fox and The Law)- guitar
Booker T. Jones (Booker T. and The MGs)- Organ
Do you own a record that you wouldn’t like to admit you have?
Not really… I mean I have all of Lupe Fiasco’s albums but I wish I didn’t have Lasers because every so often I think “hey, maybe this isn’t as awful as I remember,” but it always is.
You guys have covered ‘Bang Bang’, what is it about this track you wanted to cover?
That main melody is very recognizable, it’s always nice to cover a song that people know and can sing along to without it being really cheesy.
Is there something you would like to tell each of the band members that you haven’t told them before?
Yes there is. Clint, even though I always smile and laugh it off, it really does make me mad when I come home from work and you’ve pooped on one of my pillows. PLEASE STOP.
What is your favourite pizza topping?
First gig you ever went to?
Van Halen reunion with Sammy Hagar at Arco Arena.
Name three people (alive, dead or fictional) that you would like as dinner party guests?
You, Jimmy Page, and my friend, Toby O’Brien.
There are many good bands and musicians out there, who would you ask the readers of musicmuso to look out for?
There are a lot and I love lists so I’m going to rank them too, if you don’t mind.
1. The Dirty Nil
2. Rusty Maples
3. Moondog Matinee
4. Jelly Bread
5. Mark Sexton Band
6. Bear Lincoln
7. Joan & The Rivers
8. Naked For Safety
9. Fox and the Law
Your influences are people such as Otis Redding, what is it about these legends you love so much?
I love the songwriting on those Stax tunes, the lyrics generally leave everything right on the surface and they rely on the vocals to communicate the feeling behind them. They’re just pop songs, but they’re raw and powerful.
Who would you like to know has your music on their iPod, MP3 or cassette walkman?
Halle Berry and/or my friend, Toby.
If you could describe your music in the form of a fictional character, who would it be?
Will Smith’s character in Men In Black II, it’s both sassy AND classy.
Do you think we can ever live in a world where a chicken can cross the road without having its motives questioned?
I think that really comes down to what we all do on a daily basis to open up a dialogue about chicken transportation. Rock the vote, ya know?
What are your plans for what remains of 2014?
Record, tour, get drunk, eat pizza…. we’re also putting out an EP of Usher covers with John White called “Just Ush.”
Before leaving tha e band with 2 'Twelvers' we squeezed in a few quick fire questions for the guys....
Coffee or Tea?
Coke or Pepsi?
Live Show or Recording Studio?
Drum machine or the real deal?
The littlest of drummer boys
Mac or PC?
Taco or Burger?
Lemmy (Motorhead) or Ozzy (Black Sabbath)?
CD or Vinyl?
Hulk Hogan or Stone Cold or CM Punk?
the Hulkster, brother.
Car or Motorbike?
Acoustic or electric?
Shower or Bath?
Tattoos or Piercings?
Robert De Niro or Al Pacino?
Al Pacino, he was just electrifying in Ocean’s 13.
God or Google?
I asked Jeeves and he said “Google,” so I’ll go with that.
We'd like to thank the band for sparing their time to answer our questions and we wish them every success for the future in one armed bandit land!
Interview by Mark Wincott