We are delighted to bring you Onyx Music Review’s first interview and we are lucky to have Mach Fox of the industrial band, Zwaremachine, give us some of his time for a Q &A to talk about the new album Conquest 3000, the changes in the band and how current events are affecting them. Zwaremachine describe their style as minimal hypnotic industrial body music, which is raw, hard edged and rhythm filled with cyber punk themes.

ZWAREMACHINE

Mach, congratulations on the new album, Conquest 3000.

This new album sees Zwaremachine now as a three piece, where as previously it was a one man solo project. How did this come about?

Hi and thank you for interview and helping us get the word out about Zwaremachine and the new album. I had always intended to present Zwaremachine as a live trio with myself on vocals/synthesizer and 2 other members on electronic percussion and additional synth. Since I was using sequencers and drum machines to program and write the songs in the studio I also made sure that I could perform solo if others were not available so that is when the solo shows would happen. Over the years Zwaremachine was able to perform as duo or trio when friends were available and we could do minimal rehearsals since many of the parts were sequenced for live performances. This was great as no one had to commit to my band full time and I could have rotating members of my favorite musician friends fill in. Basically I would just need some musicians to help bring the studio recordings to life on stage. I was only booking a few shows each year from 2012-2016 and not very active with the project.

In 2017 I decided I wanted to write and record the “Be a light” album and find permanent members to
tour and record with so over a couple years I was able to try out many members while writing, arranging and performing songs that became the first full length album for Zwaremachine. At first it was difficult to find others committed to rehearsing and learning arrangements for live shows…I was able to record all parts in the studio but I had the goal of having the instrumental arrangements performed as on the record. At this point my main goal for the band was a s a live performance vehicle for these songs and I felt the album should sound like the live versions. In 2019 I finally solidified the line up I’m thrilled to have Dbot on bass guitar and Dein Offizier on drums/percussion.

With one of your band mates, Dein Offizier in Europe and then the virus bringing travel to a halt, it must have been quite an effort to write and record Conquest 3000. How did you get around these obstacles?

Digital recording technology, sampling and being able to record ourselves in home studios and rehearsal rooms played a big part in the recording sessions on this album.

Luckily I was able to travel to the Netherlands in January 2020 to record Dein Offizier drum parts on the demos that Dbot (bassist) and I had worked up in the summer of 2019.. I would have loved to get Dein Offizier into a proper studio with an engineer to record his drum parts but it just was not possible at that time and with our schedule for album. I must say that he worked so very hard on that session and we were able to record 12 songs in 6 hours in a rehearsal room that we rented at Popschool Parkstad in Heerlen,NL {Netherlands).

The 2 other producers we worked with on the Conquest 3000 album tracks were Planktoon (Sweden) and D.Corri (Ireland). We were sharing tracks via internet which is fairly common these days but also means the collaboration process is much different than being in same studio together. This also added to the longer time to produce this album as everyone has busy lifes outside of the band project. Overall I feel that it gave the album sound a uniqueness we may not have got if I was the only producer involved and I very much love what both Planktoon and D.Corri contributed.

How did you end up incorporating Dein Offizier and D-Bot into the band?

I had performed some solo Zwaremachine shows early 2019 in Europe and Dein Offizier was a mutual
friend of Kitty Sommer who does management/booking for the band so he was at one of those shows
since they are both located in the Netherlands. We later met online and I was intrigued by some of his
pictures where he was playing drums and performing in festivals with his underground percussion group at the time. We had many of the same musical tastes and he looked like a complete badass with his big metal brazillian surdo drum so I asked if he would like to join Zwaremachine on electronic percussion. He agreed to play with us and thru some discussion he expressed he would rather play his own drums instead of samples on an electronic drum pad which was an idea I had never considered but made sense as I had already added a live bassist and felt it could be another way to present our “electronic rock band” differently than so many in the current industrial/ebm genre.

In the fall of 2019 we finally met in person and had our first rehearsal where I knew he was a perfect fit when I saw him aggressively pounding his drum and mouthing the words to our songs from the set…and just hours after that first rehearsal we were in France for our first show of the Zwaremachine & Vuduvox ElektroTanz Tour. Dein Offizier and I did that tour and those shows as a duo since Dbot could not make it and it was a pleasure and honor to share the stage with him every night. It was just like he had always been in the band and I really appreciate his hard work and confidence for that tour. That is really trial by fire and he has only become a great friend and bandmate every day since then.

I did not ever anticipate to have a live bass guitar in Zwaremachine but Dbot had already been a member of early Zwaremachine live line ups on synth and electronic percussion and had also played bass in Mach Fox band from 2006-2010. I was considering a Mach Fox band reunion and we were talking about getting that band back together in late 2018 when I decided to ask him instead to play bass for Zwaremachine. He agreed to join and we released our first recording together as Zwaremachine in December 2019. It’s great to be on stage and write music with him again and I want to point out that half of the songs on Conquest 3000 were from instrumental tracks originally written by him. He is such an excellent musician and brings influences from other genres which is always welcome when we can blend that into our expanding sound.

We know for you, Zwaremachine is very much a live act with a huge accent on the visual aspect. Are there plans for live gigs again with your fellow bandmates or will you lean towards using platforms like twitch currently?

I do love the idea of presenting a visual that compliments or contrasts the music whether it is bringing
some old CRT monitors in road cases to glow on stage or building custom microphones and other stage dressing/set elements. I originally got into video art and VJ work as I wanted Zwaremachine to be strong audiovisual band in the style of Severed Heads, Skinny Puppy, Clock DVA and many from that period that matched the visuals with the music to give the audience a bit more of an experience live. We do plan to perform live again and the visuals and stage dressings/sets will depend on whether we travel to Europe or U.S. for first tour and shows since it is not always easy to bring that extra gear.

When shows and tours were first cancelled and I would get requests for online festivals and streaming
sets I originally turned those down as I wanted our live shows to be experienced in dark venues with
large and loud sound systems with a crowd…but as time went on I accepted that this could be a cool way to present our show without having to haul all the gear! Since I am also a VJ and video artist I was able to use multiple cameras, video mixers, hardware effects to present something special that I hadn’t seen others doing and with a bit of editing and post-production we ended up presenting about 10 unique livestream sets which I am proud of. The only downside to that was we were not able to have Dein Offizier with us live but we managed to record footage and he can be seen on the screens behind us for portions of the set.

During a recent interview, you expressed that you would like to bring guitar into the Zwaremachine sound. What is the influence for this?

The guitar was my main instrument for my earliest bands and it’s an easy instrument for me to express melodies and texture. I still want Zwaremachine to be driven by heavy electronics but recently I have been using guitar for some remixes and on a new side-project so I feel it might become present on some new Zwaremachine songs. Most likely it would be loaded into a sampler for live shows as I can’t be fussed to keep tuning it!

The guitar I use is a Roland Gr707 that is also a “synth guitar” which allows me to play a synthesizer or
sampler via midi from the strings of the guitar so it can be blended with a synth or any sound desired.
I also love that the guitar can be placed in the mix with synthesized instruments to make this sound that can still seems futuristic today. This idea to make hybrid electro-industrial rock is probably influenced by my favorite Wax Trax label records and this sound was hinted at in our Ripping At The Fabric EP where the synths were often treated like guitars and there was plenty of sample editing in the production. I have also been making some awful sounds with modular synthesizers that could be looped and used in future
productions.

Your moniker, Fox, is a nod to the original singer of Ultravoxx!, John Foxx, who is also an inspirational figure for Gary Numan in the electronic scene. How do you feel that people like Foxx, Numan, Frank Tovey of Fad Gadget etc have influenced your sound and who currently do you find influences you now?

Those artist and many others were using electronic sounds blended with acoustic instruments and
experimenting with production and effects in a very creative way often due to the limitations of equipment or lack of rules. The whole DIY and punk music stuff happening the same time was what gave me the ideas to try things on my own and try to make sounds that I wanted to hear. Those bands mentioned also had strong images attached and really stood out for me first for the music and also for being great live performers.

A current influence would the industrial and dark sounding electronic music I hear being made and
especially when it’s done well with modular synthesizers. Modular synthesis can produce sounds that I
have never heard before and that really excites my inner circuits as a musician and a lifelong fan of sounds. Check out TL3SS – Murkwhip or ENDIF – Falling Into The Sky for good examples.

Thank you for your time and hoping to hear more from Zwaremachine in the future!

Thank you for the interview and we will stay in touch!

http://www.zwaremachine.bandcamp.com/album/conquest-3000

http://www.facebook.com/zwaremachine