Interview – Failure Machine

Reno-based garage soul band, Failure Machine, are gearing up to release their new record, Boy. The band formed back in 2013 and is known for their modern, gritty take on late soul artists. They recently released a music video for their single, “Beautiful Scene.” The track is from their forthcoming record, Boy, set to be released in late February. Learn more about the band from their responses and be sure to check out the music video below.

FMCH brian

How would you describe your music to others?

We call it garage-soul. We kind of just rip off old Stax Records things.

How did you guys meet?

Clint and I met in a music store in Auburn where we both grew up. I moved to Reno to go to UNR and eventually Clint moved up to play music. We worked with Zac at a Jimmy John’s and Zac brought Harry into the mix. We all met Rachael and Evan just from the music scene around town.

Who is the pickiest eater?

Probably Zac. He’s a big time health nut. He’s always on these trendy cleanses that don’t allow him to drink beer or eat Taco Bell, we love him anyway though.

What is the story/meaning behind the band’s name, Failure Machine?

We saw it written on the fridge at a a really rad recording spot called Dogwater Studios and figured there couldn’t possibly be a more appropriate name for a band. Our next project wound up getting the name and it stuck.

Who and what influences your music? Why?

Just the classics: Otis Redding, The Temptations, Sugar Ray, and Etta James. We were just drawn to old soul tunes and the simple arrangements. I love the straight forward lyrics. We love Moondog Matinee too… they’re so hott right now.

How would you describe your writing process?

Usually I write a chord progression and a hook and just kind of mumble my way through the verses at all of our shows until we get to the studio…  then I hammer down the lyrics. Our tunes kind of evolve over the courses of tours. It’s easier to realize when an arrangement is clunky in the context of a show.

How often and how long do you practice together?

We get together once or twice a week. We drink beer and talk shit about other bands for about 30 minutes or so. Then we amble through some tunes that maybe aren’t as tight as they should be. Um, then we’ll jam a little on some new things for a couple minutes before giving up and just watching youtube videos and talking more shit. All that takes a couple hours and an 18 pack of Miller High Life… or Rolling Rock depending on what’s on sale at Jackson’s.

From start to finish, how long did it take to create Boy?

I think we did it all in two weekends. Robbie Lynn at Falling Glass Studios is the man. He keeps us moving at a pretty good pace. He makes LA bearable.

Can you talk about the inspiration behind “Beautiful Scene”?

Yeah! I wrote the chorus in a drive-through at a Jack In The Box a few years ago. Then slowly the rest of the song developed and it wound up being one of the tunes that people around town liked.

Do you play covers at practices or shows? If so, which ones are your favorites?

We cover “Bang Bang” and “I Can’t Feel My Face” right now. People like those. We try to cover top 40 stuff, like we did “Blurred Lines” and “All About That Bass” a couple years ago. Now we’re working on an EP of Drake songs called “Wake N Drake.” I think that’ll be pretty funny.

What do you typically do post-gig?

Hmmmmm that’s a good question… we’re usually all a bit loaded by then but we usually like to go find a burrito place or find somebody to crash with if we’re on the road… and if we can’t do that we get a bunch of beer and a motel room and just kind of hang out and nap until it’s time to go to the next place.

What image do you think your music conveys?

Probably a sloppy one. But in a kind of funny way.

What has been your biggest challenge as a band?

Booking. If someone had told me when I was learning how to play guitar that the hardest part of being in a band was sending emails to a bunch of clubs I wouldn’t have believed it… but yeah it’s the absolute worst.

What has been your funniest or craziest experience working together?

We aren’t too crazy but we do spend an inordinate amount of time throwing rocks at stuff. Not to do damage but just whenever we make a pitstop we’ll throw rocks at trees or garbage cans… oof… that answer is awful. Whatever,  I think it’s funny how regularly we find ourself throwing rocks like a bunch of dumb 8 year olds.

Anything funny or interesting your fans should know?

Oh man…. yeah. Sometimes, when we’re all in the van and it’s really quiet, you can clearly hear everyone’s overwhelming thoughts of self-doubt and the debilitating fear of turning 30 with nothing to show for it but a marginal knowledge of an instrument nobody gives a shit about. Then somebody will fart or something and we’ll all laugh nervously.

Also, my mom hates when I talk about farting in interviews.

What can we expect from Failure Machine in the coming months?

We’re releasing “Boy” in February and touring the West Coast in March. We’re also working with our best friends in Joan and The Rivers to build this label thing called SNAFU Family. Should be really fun. After that we’ll just write, record, tour, repeat.




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(Photo courtesy of Tony Contini)

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