Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: July 24th, 2005
Carnival of Souls' guitarist The Machine is one of the most laid-back musicians you could meet. We recently interviewed him and he opened up to us a whole new world of the mind of The Machine.
Let’s start with a quote given to us by Lee Cee, COS' lead vocalist, about your former band The Right. “Believe it or not, when I left The Right with the issues I had. The Machine said,'If he leaves - I’m gone too'” Why did you feel so strong about Lee at the time?
Lee and I had conversations about were we wanted to take the band. Things we wanted to do and the other guys had their mind on something different. We were driving home from a gig and we just decided that we knew what we wanted to do. So that made our mind up to go on our own. When I first got in The Right I loved Lee’s voice and thought he was great, it was a pretty easy decision.
Was The Right the first band you were in?
No. I was in a band called Silent Scream that put out some demos but The Right was the first band I ever audition for.
How did you come up with the name The Machine?
Basically it came from Gene’s warped mind. During rehearsals, he kept calling me The Machine. You are The Machine. That name just stuck. The roadies started calling me The Machine; the girls started calling me The Machine - it’s a name people enjoy saying. It’s great!
What was the first guitar you ever owned?
It was a cheap acoustic guitar probably not even a named brand maybe a JC Penney special. My first electric was a Honer Les Paul. My favorite guitar I own right now is a Gibson Les Paul. The one thing I don’t like is when we travel. It is horrible the way they handle my guitars at the airport. They just throw them and I understand they have to go through everything but they don’t even lock the case. I was watching them tossing my babies around.
Do you have any endorsements yet?
Not yet but would love to have one with Gibson. Gibson, I’m ready, give me a call.
What was the first album and concert you attended?
The first album I bought was “KISS Alive” and the first concert was Kiss in New York.
Do you remember the first time you met Gene Hunter, and what was your impression?
It was at the fetish ball… No, no only kidding (Ha-ha) Gene was coming to a club where a friend of his was playing. I was playing in a cover band that night. After I got off stage, he handed me their CD and told me to learn all the songs. I looked at him like he had a third eye. He said I was so on the money, playing songs from Alice in Chains, Metallica, and System of A Down. He told me you are the guy I need in our band. He said I played like Ace Frehley meets Randy Rhoads. He seemed very professional. He laid everything out-- what he wanted to do, what the band was about. I knew it was something I was interested in. He actually asked me first to tech for them at their first show at the Williamson Theatre. When I saw Carnival of Souls play, I thought to myself I should be in this band and it happened.
Was the stage show all complete when you joined the band?
It was completely done in full production. It was like eye candy having a stage all set up. It was like seeing Iron Maiden in full production.
You seem you’re the most laid-back member in the band. Is that the true you?
I think I have two personalities. Offstage quiet and laid back on stage it’s a different story.
Once you hit the stage, you’re a wild man… Spinning your guitar, rocking back and forth, jumping all over the place, how do you keep your concentration?
I guess just by years of playing. You just kind of get use to it and not think about it. Also, I freebase Viagra. Only kidding this is one of the few bands that I have ever been in where everyone is so health conscience, even more now that we have Bobby Rock.
Do you think that in the future you will get to sing lead vocals?
Oh yeah, we actually do a cover song during our live set where I sing either an Iron Maiden or AC/DC tune. They tell me I sound like Bon Scott. I think we all will get to sing a song except maybe Bobby. Bobby is a vegetarian and has to keep his poise.
How would you feel if a second guitarist was added to COS?
It was something we considered at one point. It would definitely be interesting but once you have a chemistry you don’t want to mess with it. In order for that to happen, we would have to find the perfect guy.
Do you feel that you as a guitarist will get more of an input into COS? The band blends together and your guitar playing has not been let loose like Yngwie.
The band is like a giant wall of sound. I think some of the bands like Yngwie’s the guitar playing is all over. That is the problem with a lot of those bands; they rely so much on the soloing. I think the guitar soloing is important just like the vocals, it has to be at a certain time. We had a piece written for a guitar solo for the debut CD but I did not want to do that yet. It was kind of like Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption.” I know Gene wanted me to do it, but with the format of the songs on “Ashes to Ashes,” I thought it would be strange and I want to do something that was tasteful, maybe with the second CD.
How did you hook up with Earl Slick (David Bowie’s guitarist)?
Earl is a friend with other friends of Damian’s. He took interest in the band. He heard the band saw the package and loved it. He wanted to get involved with us. He thinks the band is really strong and he’s helping out. He says we have great hooks to our songs and feels that we should be signed. He’s a great guy and has been a great help to the band.
COS produced their own debut CD. Did you ever think about bringing in another producer?
At this point, we think we can achieve what we want to. In the future, we would love to have another producer. We are actually more powerful live and I think we will eventually do a live record. We did it ourselves. It was a learning process. It is all opinions with no egos with a producer.
What is your impression of each member of the band?
Lee - My first impression of Lee was when I auditioned for The Right I said, ‘This guy is great!’ …Great voice, great image. We have been friends for years. He is one of my best friends. He is one of the most honest people you will ever meet and will tell you exactly what’s on his mind. He is just a great guy.
Gene - Is one of the most driven people I have met in trying to make it in this industry as hard as it is. He keeps rolling with the punches. He is a great songwriter. I love the way he plays bass. For one thing, he uses a guitar pick, which makes his playing very heavy, and bottom ended filling in the sound. It’s my idea of metal bass player.
Bobby - He’s a lot of fun, Very smart and incredible. It is a privilege even to play with someone like him. He is at a level where we all want to be. The magic is just there with Bobby. He brings the power up in the band.
Damian - Is an enigma. Damian is a guy you just have to know. He is the heart of the band.
Do you have a CD release date yet?
We are negotiating with labels and it’s all at this point just making the right decision. How many CD’s does Rock Eyez get a week to review maybe 100 or more? Well it is sad to say that most of those bands will be gone in a month. We are at the point where we are getting national attention with features in Hit Parader and many other magazines and websites. We want to get a deal that will work with us to promote the band. We are being patient and I know the fans will understand that our music is done and flawless. We are getting letters from North Africa, Switzerland, Canada all over the world. They’ve seen the videos, they’ve heard some of the songs; they are waiting to buy the CD. So hang tight it will be out soon. We want to get distribution and not get screwed; A lot of bands get record deals and get screwed. We have been offered a deal already with a huge label. They wanted all the publishing rights, all the copyrights. We give that away and in two years, they put that in a movie or sneaker commercial they get a lot of money. It’s a hard thing to hand over our material. Just to release the CD we can do that, but will it have any kind of impact, will there be tour support that type of thing.
Do you have any shows coming up?
You heard it first here. We have some live shows coming in October. Keep coming back to Rockeyez who will be one of our sponsors for the show. Bobby is out on tour right now for ten days with Gary Hoey in Singapore. Once he gets back, we will do some rehearsals and get ready for the CARNIVAL, as we will play a string of shows. One in New York City, one in New Jersey then we are playing some other shows elsewhere.
What was your favorite show you played so far?
It has to be the Texas show. There were some great bands playing there great WHITE, molly hatchet. The promoters told us we were the best band on the bill after playing. It was amazing! Seeing so many people who never even heard of us; not knowing our songs and getting in to it, it was WILD. This is the start of something big. We sold out of all our merchandise. The fans were great we signed thousands of autographs. There were over six thousand people there. But, every show we did was great. It just happens that the Texas show was overwhelming.
What is your favorite song on the CD?
“See All Evil.” It is one of the heaviest and most aggressive.
What do fans mean to you?
Fans are great. Anyone who spends there money on something you worked on. I feel is a friend to me, Thank you.
What is the next step for COS?
The first thing is to land the right deal with a label that understands metal. We are talking with three different labels now and it depends on what kind of deal they give us. We want to do this worldwide hooking up with more magazines and TV. We like the underground scene. But you stay underground too long you will not be able to get on the road, buy equipment, those are factors we are looking for world domination. We are not looking to be a band that is underground that twenty kids like. We want everyone in America and elsewhere to know who carnival of Souls is or at least give us a shot and some exposure. Exposure means a million dollars to the record company and we will be there to back it up. You want to be on the level of Linkin Park those boys had big money behind them before the even made it big. So we are looking for a deal that will give us that exposure.
Would you like to go out on an opening tour?
I think we would complement a band like Disturbed a modern metal crowd. But we would go out on tour with anyone who would give us exposure, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Kiss, SYSTEM OF A DOWN, etc … Live is our thing. Any opportunity to play would be great.
Tell us about your first personal guitar picks?
I am a guitar pick maniac. I tried just about every pick I can think of stone picks, brass picks, metal picks, big picks, small picks, I tried coins but the picks I use is Clayton 80mm. Give me a Clayton endorsement. They are the perfect thickness where you can play really fast but they have enough bend in them where you can really dig in. My first personal picks are white with our logo in black and the other side has our jester. We only made maybe 100 of these for two special industry shows. One of the shows was in New York City and the other in Los Angeles. I have some new picks on the way which we reversed the process. They will be black picks with white print; we are only making a small amount.
MTV has a show called all request. Does MTV have your video where fans can call or e-mail to request the video?
MTV has it, but will not air it until we have a release date for the CD, but we would be happy if fans request the video once the CD is released.
The Machine, Rock Eyez would like to thank you taking the time to talk with us, would you like to say anything in conclusion.
I just want to thank you for inviting us to the home of Rock Eyez. I would also like to thank all the fans for all the support you give us. We greatly appreciate you guys. Keep looking for The Carnival, its coming to your town soon. COS’ “Ashes to Ashes” debut CD will be on the shelf soon. Check our site www.carnivalofsoulsonline.com