BTD Radio Interviews, Diabol Machines
BTD Radio Interviews, Diabol Machines
I am going to start this interview off a rockin by asking you a few questions about your super fabulous video “Get Scrappy.” That video is so much fun! The little unicorns are so cute. Please tell our listeners how you got your ideas for this video. We understand that “Get Scrappy” is also the title of your new EP…sweet…tell us all about it. What is a “scrappy” anyway?
Diabol Machines: We filmed the music video while we were in Austin for SXSW. We bought the plastic unicorns back in November at Toy Joy and they’ve kind of been our mascots, along with the plush unicorn use in our merch display at shows (her name is Merchy). We started taking photos of the plastic unicorns doing silly things and posting them on our Tumblr. At SXSW, Kevin was like, “Hey, let’s make a video for ‘Get Scrappy!’ with the plastic unicorns!’” So that’s what we did. We basically carried them around with us all over Austin and Kevin would shoot video of them on his phone. Then, when we played at the Go Girls Music showcase at Austin Java, our friend Amanda filmed us singing the song and we incorporated that as well.
“Scrappy” is an adjective that means “disorderly or incomplete.” To “get scrappy” means to do go ahead and do something even if circumstances aren’t 100 percent ideal.
I see you are a four piece band, where are all of you from? Could you introduce yourself and what you do within the band? When did your band get together?
Diabol Machines: Our band originally formed in August 2012. It was formed by Kevin and me (Steph) and another member who departed a few months later. We’ve had a few line-up changes since we first formed. Originally, Kevin and I both played ukulele — he played the tenor uke and I played baritone. Soon, I switched to guitar, Kevin began playing the Farfisa organ, and we added bass and drums. At one point we had lead and rhythm guitar, but now we’re just down to one guitar. Our drummer, Aubrey, joined in April 2013, and our bassist, Jonathan, joined in January 2014.
How would you describe your band in 140 characters or less?
Diabol Machines: Manic, garage-y power pop with a snarky edge.
Your music is fun and energetic, if you could think about those two words and put a label on each band member, who would be labeled as “fun” and who would be labeled as “energetic?” Be sure to tell us why.
Diabol Machines: I think we’re all a little bit of both. Kevin’s sort of the chatterbox, talking more than anybody on stage. We both dance around and act like goofballs when the occasion calls for it. Jonathan’s the most chill, but he’s definitely fun, with a great sense of humor. Aubrey is a very energetic drummer, definitely.
I see you write all your music. Tell us about your process. You start at point “A” and you get to point “B” then you have a finished product. What determines this?
Diabol Machines: Kevin and I (Steph) are the primary songwriters. I don’t think the process is quite the same for any two songs, and I think Kevin and I approached it very differently. I write down ideas that pop into my head either on my phone or in a notebook. Sometimes I’ll record snippets of melodies that come to mind. I usually start with something from this pile of ideas I’ve collected and start with a melody and chords and work my way out from there. Kevin usually start with lyrics and adds the melody later or hands it off to me to add the melody. We’ll usually work everything out between the two of us, then record a simple demo to send to Jonathan and Aubrey and they come up with their parts from there.
What has been your most favorable venue to perform at? Why?
Diabol Machines: We recently played in the basement at J&J’s Pizza in Denton, Texas, with Missing Sibling and American Werewolf Academy. That place has a great vibe — it feels like the 1970s in that basement but it also feels like you’re in the bottom of a ship because you can hear the creaking of people walking upstairs – and there are water leaks. It’s very laid-back and you can pretty much do whatever you want as long as you’re out of there by midnight. Band members also get free pizza and Schlitz beer, so that’s pretty great. I think we’re going to have a monthly gig there with the same two bands.
We played at Club Dada in Dallas last summer with Blackwater 64 and found out filmmaker Mogan Spurlock was there. That was fun. He hung out and chatted with us and we gave him a copy of our EP.
In our hometown, our favorite spot is a little bar called The Grotto, which is very cozy and friendly and very welcoming to our music. They’ve always been really good to us.
Steph, you are the lead singer and the only girl in the band. What’s that like hanging around the guys all the time? How do you get “girl time?” What’s Steph’s idea of a rest and relaxation?
Diabol Machines: It’s funny, because Kevin used to be the only guy in the band, but after some line-up changes last year, it’s the complete opposite. The guys in the band are all a lot of fun to hang out with. When I’m chilling by myself, I’m usually watching Netflix or listening to music with Kevin and our two cats, Rio and Clementine. I also like to go for walks and bike rides in my free time.
Have you ever forgotten your lyrics while on stage? What did you do to recover from it?
Diabol Machines: Yes, I have. I was doing a non-Diabolical Machines performance for a ladies’ rock weekend last February and we were performing a song we’d written the day before. I did fine at the practice rehearsal, but at the actual showcase, I forgot ALL of the verse lyrics, so I just ended up singing some nonsense for the verses. It was pretty rough. At our own shows, though, I might forget a few words here or there. I just try to mumble something and keep going, and hope no one notices. I figure saying any words is better than mumbling gibberish, though.
If I were to spend time with you in the studio for a day, what would I see and hear? Walk me through your day.
Diabol Machines: We recorded “Get Scrappy!” at Sibling Collective Studio, which is a home studio. We start by getting bass and drums set up. Then we’ll set up guitar, vocals, and keyboards and play through a few songs until we get bass and drums sounding the way we want. Once that’s all good, we’ll start recording. We get the rhythm tracks down first, and once we’ve got some takes we’re happy with, we’ll go in and track the guitar and organ and whatever other instruments we might be using on a song. Vocals come around last – I’ll do my lead vocal and Kevin and Jonathan will do any harmony vocals we come up with.
I enjoy finding out how bands come up with their names, could you tell our listeners how you came up with your band name?
Diabol Machines: The name of our band actually came from a 1970s educational short about the horrors of modern technology called “Your Chance to Live: Technological Disasters.”
What is your song “Slice and Dice” all about?
Diabol Machines: Kevin wrote the lyrics for that one. It’s about a couple, wherein one half is very snarky, sarcastic, and sharp-witted, and the other half finds their smarts and biting language strangely appealing. They want each other but they’re doing this sort of dance around it, poking and prodding with snarky language like a fencing duel, because they respect each other’s minds in addition to the attraction they feel.
While performing on stage, what would you say it your most favorite way to get your audience to engage in your music?
Diabol Machines: We don’t have any songs right now that explicitly involve any audience participation. We just try to look like we’re having fun and try to be as energetic and engaging as possible.
Towns, zombies, and inspirations… oh my… tell us about “Drag You Away.”
Diabol Machines: I wrote that song one night when I couldn’t sleep. It’s about growing up in a small town where you don’t really fit in and never being able to shake that feeling of being an outsider or not being good enough, even when you physically get away from it and move on with your life.
Thank you so much for taking the time out to interview with us. Could you tell our listeners where they can find your music? If you have any special shout-outs, please feel free to do them now.
Diabol Machines: We are all over the place. Here are a few places people can find us.