Q&A with Immaculate Machine

Immaculate Machine
Since 2007′s Fables, Victoria pop rock outfit Immaculate Machine has undergone a major overhaul in personnel. The group lost one member and gained three more, with singer/guitarist Brooke Gallupe now handling nearly all of the frontman duties himself (a role he previously shared with part-time New Pornographer Kathryn Calder). The result of these changes is High on Jackson Hill, the riff-heavy new album that scales back the band’s signature guitar/keyboard interplay in favour of noisy classic rock throwbacks and sparse folk ballads.

After taking the summer off, the group will be hitting the road this month for a brief Western Canadian tour. The excursion began yesterday in Prince George, and will wrap up with a performance at the Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver on September 12th. The group will then fly across the Atlantic for a series of shows in Western Europe.

I recently caught up with Gallupe about the group’s lineup changes, the new album and the joys (and pitfalls) of life on the road.

CH: This summer you’ve had a break from touring. What have you been doing with your time?
BG: We played a series of free shows around Victoria, which felt really good. We tubed down the river, and generally did some summer hangin’, but we are very excited to get back on the road.

CH: Since your last album, drummer Luke Kozlowski left the band and you’ve gained three new members. Also, Kathryn Calder is playing a much smaller role. How did all of these lineup changes come about?
BG: Kathryn and Luke have always been fantastic bandmates, but this was my chance to make the album I always wanted to make, without compromises. Neither Kathryn or Luke, who both play on the album, would be touring because of other commitments, so they offered me full command the recording process. The new touring band is exciting to play with. The change in lineup—change in general—has been very inspiring.

CH: What’s Kathryn’s current and future role in the band?
BG: Kathryn played on High On Jackson Hill. The two of us are already talking about our next recording project. Apart from a couple shows here and there, she will not be touring at all for the album. She spent a year dealing with a serious family illness so she is spending her time now relaxing and working on some other musical projects, including a solo album.

CH: With so many lineup changes, did you consider abandoning the Immaculate Machine name?
BG: It was considered, yes. But in the end, changing the name seemed like not giving much credit to our fans. All my favourite bands evolved over their careers, with changes in sound and often personnel. Some people will lose interest and others will catch on to the new stuff. High on Jackson Hill is our best album and I think it makes things interesting for music fans to accept twists in the road of a band’s journey.

CH: You recorded High on Jackson Hill at your parents’ house in Victoria. Why did you choose to record there, instead of in a studio?
BG: I was looking for a more relaxing atmosphere than a sterile studio. My parents abandoned their home—my childhood home—for a month while we transformed it into a recording studio. I was tired of trying to get things perfect in a recording, and wanted instead to get things sounding spontaneous and different.

CH: The new album has a lot of psychedelic rock influences. (Click here to check out the video for the wah-laden single “Sound the Alarms.”) Exactly how high did you get on Jackson Hill?
BG: We made sure we did a lot of relaxing while we made the album and we looked for recording inspiration in more unusual places. We set up mics in bathrooms and kitchens, recorded the playground next door at school recess and car engine noises.

CH: Immaculate Machine is about to embark upon yet another bout of touring. How do you stay sane on the road?
BG: I love touring. There is nothing so great. Staying sane is not necessarily a high priority.

CH: What’s the shittiest tour food you’ve ever eaten?
BG: I am vegan so I am more likely to not find anything than to find something shitty. The worst, though, was when KFC decided to make a vegan mock chicken burger. It got spat out inadvertantly all over the smelly KFC parking lot. Our drummer once ate a “mammoth burger” in Drumheller, AB. A mammoth burger is five pounds of meat in a bun, and to get it for free you have to eat it in record time—14 minutes. Needless to say, he had to pay for it and meat sweats ensued. He hallucinated through the whole day and our show.
 
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