Hot off the re-release of their brilliant Redeemer, Machinae Supremacy have entered the realm of the metal heavyweights, recieving glowing reviews here at Harm.us, Kerrang! and Metal Hammer magazines. Hugely now successful after this, their second full length release, I managed to wrestle a few minutes out of the busy schedule of vocalist Robert ("Gaz") Stjärnström who helms the mysterious quintet that fuses the 80s Commodore 64 SID chip to their high-voltage, ultra-catchy modern power metal.
Eyeless Sentry: Congratulations on re-releasing your second album, Redeemer on Spinefarm Records. How has the response been so far?
Robert: Response has been very positive, overall, with some awesome reviews, for example in big magazines like Metal Hammer, Kerrang and Sweden Rock magazine. We get a lot of airplay on the Swedish rock radio station Bandit in Stockholm, but beyond that it’s kind of hard to tell. We get a lot of fan mail, but we did that already before this release, so no change there. But like I said, it’s looking very positive, overall.
Something I’ve always wanted to know: did the SID Station or the band come first? Did you or the band ever envision writing original songs?
We never planned on making anything other than original songs. That idea to make a game cover or two was given to us by a fan after we’d been around for a little while. Though the SIDStation did come before the band. (smiles.) I had the SIDStation at home already, and I was playing around with it, when [guitarist] Jonne [Rörling] came over one day with his guitar and an amp. He started playing some chunky riffs to a SID-heavy track I’d been working on, and it just sort of clicked. It sounded awesome.
(It sure does!) What were your favorite C64 games? I remember Monty on the Run and Short Circuit as my childhood greats, mostly for the striking melodies. Is MS focused the same way?
Oh man, it’s hard to remember that far back, I mean I played a looot of games, but I know I loved Ghost’n’Goblins, Boulderdash and games like that. I think in most cases our music is either main melody or riff oriented, because that’s usually what comes first.
Apart from the obvious C64 influence, the band is one of diverse inspiration. I could detect some J-rock and punk in the mix on Redeemer.
I think the J-rock and punk mostly comes from me. Jonne brings a lot of 80s and 90s metal to the mix, and Tomas a lot of rhythm-based technical metal and American rock music.
As a baritone singer in a power metal band, your range sets you apart from many of your counter-tenor pushing contemporaries. Does the band write around your voice, or is the creative process balanced?
Most of the time I’ve had to adapt my singing to the material in question, but we’re getting better at adjusting the key to my range and all that. I’ve never really considered what makes my voice different beyond that fact that it is, but we do try to emphasize that particular attribute because we think it’s an important aspect of our music.
Are you personally a technique driven singer?
Hehe, no, not at all. I just step up and do my thing. I did take singing lessons for a short while in high school, but the only thing I really learned back then was to open my mouth properly. I think my technique has formed from listening a lot to singers I admire and somehow subconsciously imitating them more or less. One of my favorite singers is Tina Root in Switchblade Symphony.
MS is one of many bands that has greatly benefited from the internet music-sharing and social networking scene, long before the advent of Last.fm and MySpace. Do you think the buzz that these sites are perceived to generate among fans translates into genuine exposure for up and coming bands - or is it just more invasive advertising for bands on the rosters of major label players?
I’m sure there is evil brewing beneath the surface of all these online communities, sinister business agendas to earn truckload upon truckload of money, but I can’t help but love sites like YouTube and MySpace for offering anyone to advertise their existence and their multimedia to the world for free. Whoever makes a fortune off this concept isn’t really the issue, but rather the fact that the doors have opened for anyone to broadcast themselves out into the world.
In some of the lyrics, I got the hints of a grander science-fiction style narrative forming, with references to where “the great Hubnester lies.” Has the band contemplated ever tackling a concept album similar to Ayreon or Symphony X, with a mythic back story?
We haven’t thought seriously about a concept album, but we do have a mythic back story to the songs you are referring to. Maybe we could, should we choose to do so, create a complete concept album, but at the same time I think we’d have a hard time to put everything else aside for that purpose. But maybe…
I saw some references to Buffy and Firefly amongst some of the tracks. Do you follow Sci-Fi still? I’ve become a Heroes and Dr. Who/Torchwood tragic at the moment.
We surely do. Heroes is a definite favorite, as is the new Battlestar Galactica.
The band, as some know, also produced a soundtrack for the side-scrolling PC game Jets n’ Guns. Is the band set to continue composing music for games?
Yes, we definitely want to. We’ve formed a music production company (named Hubnester Industries) in the hopes to gain more such work. It’s a tough business, but we’re really good at it, so we have high hopes.
Are there any major tours for MS in the pipeline? Do MS hope to hit the European Metal Festival circuit soon?
We had this shot at a European tour with a bigger band recently but it was too soon after album release, so the talks were cancelled. Right now we have only single and two night events planned, but we hope to partner up with some other cool band and go touring as soon as possible.
And as always, the random question: If you had to spend a day with Paris Hilton, what would you do?
Dye her hair black, put her in a complete gothgirl-getup and maybe have me one of those 24 hour marriages? Such scandals are good publicity, after all.
Thanks for the interview!
Redeemer is out now on Spinefarm Records.