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ITN Magazine: Let's talk a little about the history of your band. When did you originally form and is this the original line-up?  

Alex and myself (James) formed Reflex Machine nearly four years ago, in October 2015. It's always just been us two. We like the challenge that comes with being a two-piece. 

ITN Magazine: Do you remember how the idea of forming the band first came up? 

I began experimenting with using split signals from a Bass VI to form massive walls of sounds pretty early on, and knew I wanted to do something with that. I was inspired by bands like Death from Above 1979 and Black Cobra. I started out playing a bunch of covers, things like Queens of the Stone Age and Mastodon, until I knew I wanted to go completely heavy with original music with a drummer. I joined a band with Alex called Voted Down, and I asked him if he wanted to also start a weirdo heavy two-piece and that was that.

ITN Magazine: How long after you formed was it until you played your first live show? 

Probably too early haha. It had to have been only three or four months. We weren't very good at first. Arguably until much more recently even. But we were a lovable trainwreck, I like to think. Definitely a hot mess.

ITN Magazine: What are your memories of the performance?

We played a cover of Mastodon's 'Colony of Birchmen' and butchered it. haha 

ITN Magazine: How would you categorize the style of the band? 

We're a progressive, highly experimental post-metal band. Heavy, jarring rhythmic changes and odd time-signatures that lumber around a meandering theme. We're like if SUMAC and the Mars Volta had a Gothic baby. 

ITN Magazine: What image do you want your music to convey to your fans?

Horror. The terror of questioning one's existence in what is in many ways a dystopian future. 

ITN Magazine: Who are your influences and how have they shaped your bands sound?

I was listening to a lot of Neurosis when we recorded our upcoming album 'Interzone,' so I definitely think we got a lot of our creepy vibes from them, especially in the last track 'Mugwump.' But my biggest influence by far, as a stringed instrument player/writer, has got to be Omar Rodriguez-Lopez from At the Drive-In. Alex is super keen on the atmosphere Slint created on their album 'Spiderland' and the more experimental albums by Can, which is where we've picked up a lot of our world-shaping soundscape type stuff from. 

ITN Magazine: Let's talk a little about your latest album what are the listeners in store for with this release ? 

It's an epic sci-fi horror concept record about a dirty cop named Jones, who is sent on a suicide mission to take down a sentient building in the middle of the ocean called Interzone. It's a futuristic tale of A.I., virtual reality, and insanity. Listeners should really strap in, because the album launches off with an anxiety trip that doesn't really let up until the final note of the last song, covering all kinds of musical bases along the way. It's definitely a strange and terrifying world we've created.

ITN Magazine: Where did record your latest release at? 

We recorded at Over the CounterCulture Records, our in-home studio. This was great for us, since we did a ton of in-studio writing and took a lot of time to make sure everything was coming out polished and presentable.  
ITN Magazine: Producers are a very important factor in recording a good record. Who did you use to produce your record? 

We didn't have anyone produce it. But I've always dreamed of having Kurt Ballou produce one of our records. Or Steve Albini. I think they're both pioneers and I respect the hell out of them.

ITN Magazine: Does the entire band contribute to the writing process? 

Absolutely. I didn't want to start a project where I was the only one writing, or I was just being told what to play. It was very important to both of us that we had equal parts in the band's creative process. 

ITN Magazine: How do you feel the band has evolved musically and personally over the last year?

I feel like we've really harnessed our sound, which has always been a chaotic, spastic heaviness, but we feel its being smoothed out a tad, getting more digestible. We laugh about how we have musical A.D.D., and can't stay focused on a riff or central theme for too long, and while that hasn't changed all that much, there is definitely more of a clear trajectory with our music these days.

ITN Magazine: Favorite memory from a show you’ve played or a place you’ve traveled to?

We played a punk house here in Columbus, Ohio, pretty early on. It was called the Bone Yard. We played in the living room of this dilapidated house and we busted into a song, and one of the people who lived there appeared out of nowhere, completely naked, being hoisted up by his friends. It was absolutely hilarious, just all of a sudden there's this dude's junk in our faces while everyone's moshing like crazy. Definitely unexpected, we still laugh about it to this day. 

ITN Magazine: Favorite song of yours you’ve written? 

'The Descent' is my personal favorite of ours. It's a 16-minute long progressive track that starts super militantly and devolves into tension and anxiety. We also got to do an improvised noise section in the middle, which is something I've been wanting to play around with for a while now, so I was happy we got to do that. 

ITN Magazine: Favorite song of yours that you like to play live?

Lately I've been enjoying playing 'Machina,' which is the third track on our upcoming album. The song is mostly just string scratching and harmonics, no real frets being played until the very end, which comes smashing in after a great build up that gets everyone super pumped. I'm basically just into whatever the crowd is into. We're kind of a feedback loop with the audience, so we really depend on their energy to thrive on stage. 

ITN Magazine: Where do you draw the inspiration for the songs you write?

We've always made a lot of references to Philip K. Dick, which is actually where our name comes from, 'A Scanner Darkly.' I find his brand of sci-fi, one that questions the nature of reality, to be the most fascinating. It's not just spaceships blowing up and laser guns. So there are a lot of literary references in our songs. Interzone itself is a reference to William S. Burroughs' 'Naked Lunch,' which is one of my favorite books. Our album cover is inspired by H.R. Giger, who famously designed the Xenomorph from the Alien series. So a lot of nerdy sci-fi, druggy type stuff. 

ITN Magazine: How important do you rate the lyrical side of your albums? 

I like to say not highly, since we don't have too many vocals in our music. But, to be honest, we take it more seriously than we let on. We want to make sure the right message is coming through, and words are super powerful. We put quite a bit of thought into it. Nothing ruins music faster than lazy lyrical content.

ITN Magazine: What are your current tour plans, if any? 

We have a long series of weekend-warrior dates planned for September and October -- just covering the east coast and as far west as Chicago. Should be a great time! 

ITN Magazine: Describe your live performance for those who have never seen you live? 

I think, when we're really on, we're super fascinating in that it constantly sounds like we're about to fall apart, because we do a lot of call-and-response and a lot of it is feel and visual cues. So it's never the same show twice. It's got a loose, jazzy sort of feel to it. And even when we're not super on our A-Game for whatever reason, we still get complements on how well we recover and roll with the punches. It should be very clear we've been making music together for quite a while and are super in tune with each other. We have moments of tightness, but for the most part, we're a pretty chaotic, wall-of-sound band. Three full-stacks of amps just barraging you constantly.

ITN Magazine: Getting radio airplay and support is important for a any band, What is your view on that? 

I would be super surprised if anyone wanted to play our band on most radio stations. Perhaps some internet radio stations that cater to the stranger side of underground metal. haha 

ITN Magazine: Do you see as we do that most local radio rarely support the up and coming new bands and even more local bands just starting out?

I would agree with that in a general sense. Fortunately for us here in Columbus, we have a great radio station, CD102.5, that have a regular weekly slot for local bands and up-and-comers, even in the weirder, heavier side of things. A lot of our friends have gotten radio play on this frequency, so that's a really great thing for our local community.

ITN Magazine: What do you think of the music industry right now?

I try not to. I think, much like most things, it's become primarily a popularity contest. Who is getting signed to what label and who gets the big shows with the big bands that come through. There's not a lot of encouragement for experimental music, in my opinion. It almost seems like most labels, fans and bands just want to keep rehashing Black Sabbath riffs or Led Zeppelin-style Blues-based songwriting. It's kind of discouraging. Especially when Black Sabbath had so much more to them than just the typical Doom Metal offerings; they were jazz-as-fuck. I'd like to see more variance and appreciation for weirder music in the industry. Bands like Wizard Rifle and Indian Handcrafts, for example, and even goofy ol' Mutoid Man. I try to follow in the footsteps of Bongripper, who are such a great band when it comes to work ethic and DIY mentality. They do all of their own work themselves, bypassing the need for a typical label, and I appreciate the hell out of that.

ITN Magazine: Did you find it hard to break into the business and what was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?

It's always a struggle trying to get attention and for people to notice you when there are so many great musicians out there. But we just love to play shows, honestly. If you keep your head up, try not to let the scene get you down, and just keep plugging away, something will happen for you eventually. Gotta just keep pushing the envelope! Everything we write is more difficult and challenging than our last song, and we like it that way, to keep pushing ourselves.

ITN Magazine: Tell us about your thoughts on your local music scene? 

 We're all a pretty tight-nit group of friends. Columbus isn't the biggest city, so while there are a lot of bands here, there aren't a whole lot of metal bands. There are some really great bands here, though: Lord Whorfin (mathy, post-punk, black metal), OPE (doom metal), DirtWorship (sludgy sludge), BODY FARM (power violence)... just to name a few of us weirdos.

ITN Magazine: Are there any new and upcoming bands that you are into? 

Akula is a really sick new post-metal band here in Columbus with members from Lo-Pan and Bridesmaid. We're also super tight with the garage doom band Pale Grey Lore, too. Think uber catchy vocal melodies with rippin' fuzz riffs. Good shit.

ITN Magazine: How has Social Networking (Facebook,Twitter, etc.) impacted your band? 

It's a necessary evil, I think. Though I do enjoy seeing what my favorite bands are up to all the time, so hopefully someone out there is enjoying the garbage I'm spewing at them. haha No, I honestly have quite a bit of fun with it. I like to joke around, doing polls like if we got stranded on tour, which one of us would be the first one to be eaten by the other. Spoiler: everyone said I would get eaten. 

ITN Magazine: Where can our readers find you on the web?


ITN Magazine: What equipment is the band using and do you have any endorsements currently?

I love Ampeg stuff. Especially stuff from the 70s. Right now we're running two Ampeg 8x10s and a vintage V4-B (2x15 folded horn cab) and a bunch of power amps, including a Fryette 2/90/2 tube power amp. I used to have a bunch of heads, but it got to be too tedious to set up all of that by myself and it would cut into our set times. Even my bass is a lucite Dan Armstrong-style Bass VI that I had built for me. Alex uses a really nice Pearl Session Studio Classic kit, that fades from a warm orange color to a deep brown. And he just loves those Zildjian A Customs! It's a gorgeous looking and sounding kit. No endorsements yet (looking at you, Ampeg! Pearl!).

ITN Magazine: Thanks for answering these questions. Do you have any last comments for our readers? 

 Do something weird and unexpected with your music, whether you're listening or creating. Just have fun with it! Make it yours!