The Avenue

Thoughts From the Instrumental Deep Machine

Catch Deep Machine on Saturday, May 8, at the Jam on the Hill, or Friday, May 28, at 527 Main St.

A rainy evening in Murfreesboro brought together all of the members of the up-and-coming experimental rock band, Deep Machine. The boys talked about what they are trying to accomplish with their music, where they have been, where they are headed and there was even a strange side conversation about Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty.

Everything got kicked off with a discussion about the over saturation of bands in the Middle Tennessee area. The attitude was overall very optimistic, although they admit that the more bands there are, the harder it is to increase a fanbase by getting kids out to shows. However, it shows what a great scene Murfreesboro really has going on. The large number of bands in this area inspires Deep Machine to be better.

Drummer Ben Crannel explained how much it pushes all of the bands and makes everyone more competitive as they become immersed in the scene, even in different genres of music.

The whole concept of Deep Machine was spawned from a series of jam sessions. The guys started playing together, as well as with other musicians, and things took off. The more they played, the more obvious it became that having a singer wasn’t necessary. The lack of vocals seemed to leave open the door to create music in an entirely different way.

Guitarist Brennan Walsh explained how not having a singer created an equal atmosphere in the music. He feels that people are driven automatically to focus on the melody of music, which generally comes from vocals. In Deep Machine, the melody is created based on the combination of each musician’s contribution to the sound. Listeners can absorb more aspects of the music.

This also leaves room for listener interpretation. People really don’t know what these songs are about and therefore can create their own meaning. Crannel mentioned a girl, who knew limited English, raving to the band about how much she loved a show because she was able to interact with the music just as much as everyone else.

The songwriting process for Deep Machine is not something the band can easily describe. The overall answer is that it is different every time. Keyboardist Brian Cline talked about how most songs start with one basic idea or guitar riff. He said, “We might be jamming and warming up before practice and then hear a riff and build off that. Sooner or later it will turn into a song or we will add it to a song that we already have.”

The guys went on to explain how a segment that might have been written as an introduction can easily continue to develop into an entire song.

Walsh compared the songwriting to how a DJ creates music. Certain parts of the music will drop out unexpectedly. This doesn’t change the sound of the song but instead adds a different texture to the sound. There is still a forward driving motion, only with more variety. For instance, halfway through a track, there might be a three-minute segment that sounds nothing like the rest. The track will eventually make its way back to the original sound—just taking an alternate route to get there. This whole process can take lots of time due to how intricate each song can be. Deep Machine has one jam they actually worked on for over six weeks.

Inside the realm of “experimentation,” there is a certain line that Deep Machine does not wish to cross. While they continue to push the limits of their music, this band will not become a “prog-rock band.” Crannell laughed and said, “There comes a point when that sound . . . doesn’t sound good.” Basically, Deep Machine does not ever want to create music that is so technical only a musician could enjoy it.

An interesting side conversation struck up when someone mentioned country music. Everyone was momentarily distracted for a quick laugh about the idea of Walsh playing singer-songwriter country instead of rock music.

In order to get a better insight to the inspiration of this eclectic music, the guys all talked about the music that inspired them the most personally. The four biggest influences listed were Tool, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead and The Mars Volta.

Can you guess which member picked which artist?

After this long discussion about the music, conversation transitioned into how Deep Machine was rewarding or challenging for each member. Being able to play shows was the overwhelming response to the reward part of this question. Cline raved about how great the fans are, especially here in Murfreesboro.

As for challenges, there is the obvious “broke musician” aspect, but balancing a life of work, school and being in a band is obviously difficult. Further than that, the guys discussed the challenge to write instrumental songs in general. Some bands just create atmospheres and soundscapes, but Deep Machine is writing songs that are melodic enough to keep their audiences interested in instrumental music. Something in every song has to be changing and morphing to hold people’s attention, which is difficult to do.

The Deep Machine fan base is growing exponentially in Murfreesboro and now they are working on a more national level. The guys just got back from a tour of nine shows extending from Chicago all the way down to Austin. The band has undeniable chemistry, some incredible music and a great light show every time they perform.

When asked if this band was something that the guys were serious about pursuing, the answer was “yes.” The guys are constantly booking new shows and are working on developing merchandise and hopefully a studio-recorded album. Until then, there is a live recording on their Myspace page for free download.

A final quote from the band: “Shout out to the Scottish guy we met on tour [who was wearing a kilt and Motorhead shirt] who loved our music!”

For more information, check out myspace.com/deepmachinemusic

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