Monday, June 4, 2012

Interview: UK-based Machina Shogunate on Music, Sheep, and Confusing British Customs

For those of you who love steampunk style, gothic rock music, and British people doing awesome things while speaking in a British accent, we have a treat today! In the honor of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and Metal Monday, we've rounded up the British visual-kei steampunk band Machina Shogunate, and bribed them with tea into doing an interview with us via Skype. Today, they tell us all about their music, some of the challenges they face, as well as sheep, British war customs, and Hogwarts. The band consists of V-zhon (vo), J (gu), and Az (b).

RSF: Alright, the first question is rather basic…
V-Zhon: Just like me!
RSF: Please introduce Machina Shogunate to our readers!
J: We're probably the most functional least-functioning example of creativity.
RSF: Indeed?
V: Is that the best way to start?
J: We exist, although at times it's questionable.
V: We exist against the odds, it seems.
J: But primarily we're a band.
Az: We're a symphonic rock/ metal band taking visual influence from Steampunk and Visual Kei but blended in a distinctly British manner.
V: We didn't form under the most conventional of circumstances.
J: We're very obviously influenced by Japanese Rock and Visual Kei in terms of sound, but I think there is distinguishable parity enough to say we're taking it in our own direction.
A: I'd say our orchestration and leanings towards progressive rock/ metal give us a different element to our sound to your run of the mill VK band.
J: But it's an evolving sound. Our newest EP is a lot more aggressive, but we'll get onto that later.
A: my basses seem to change drastically between recordings also [laughs]
J: You have a way of adding strings.
A: Well technically I took one away before…then added 3.
V: We're not the sort of band that shoehorns in Japanese language and/or references in the hope of seeming cooler or whatever, because we aren't Japanese at the end of the day. We communicate lyrically in our native tongue because that's most expressive for us.
J: We're comfortable being ourselves - and we're not the first to admit that we're all quite eccentric beings in our own ways, and if anything, that shows most in the collective that we've titled 'Machina Shogunate'
V: Then there's the visual input side that's as much about art as it is about the image of our members.
A: I have to say myself both playing wise and visually I have changed a lot since the band formed. Each time we play or record I'm adding new bits or just forgetting and re-writing them all [laughs]
V: It's been very much an organic process that we allow to develop naturally.
J: I think we all have, but that's one of the coolest things I think. We're connected via this project, which naturally evolves seamlessly regardless of how we as people change.

RSF: I just noticed something awkward... if I abbreviate your names into one letter each for the sake of keeping it short... I get V, A, J. Awkward.
A: Awesome… Putting me to Az doesn’t help much either.
J: That's the name of our alter-ego band, V.A.J. Think S.K.I.N, but actually real.
V: Everyone loves a bit of V.A.J. [laughs]
A: VAJ actually stands for Virtuous Anal Jockey
J: We've got Az and his nipple tassels to satisfy that demographic. So we're cool.
V: Windeed.
A: God damn that picture...
V: Love yooooouuuu!
A: you're all turds [laughs]

RSF: So, you’ve made quite a few releases… when is the next one coming?
A: We're actually in the middle of recording it…
J: Aha, we could have made a bunch of albums.
V: We've certainly made a bunch of stuff...
J: We've got the songs for them, but we've released one EP and we're in the thick of getting through the next one. It's been a bit of a stop-start process.
A: I think J gets rid of over 60% of the songs he writes due to not being happy with them. But still writes more than me, mental turnover [laughs]
V: Yeah, we tended to take down the old stuff we had online once our newer stuff was ready.
J: The new EP recording process has been kind of hodge-podge. Like, we record ourselves. And at least on my part, I've gone through/am going through numerous technical advances in the studio front.
V: Yup, J's a bit of a powerhouse.
J: So right now we're currently moving our projects to a new studio... which I am actually going to work on tonight. I got some new components in today. But we've got 7 songs written, which are mostly recorded. Apart from bass mainly…
A: And just to be difficult it's a program I don't use...
J: I think we'll definitely have the EP out this summer, but we could have a new song out within a few weeks. Watch this space!
A: You heard it here first! …in fact I heard it here first [laughs]
J: It's that close. Obviously we need to track bass - but I think people will be impressed.
A: If they're not its all the bass' fault. Although, it was nice to record vocals in a studio this time around.
V: It's going to be interesting picking which songs make the final EP cut because they've all got great stuff going on.
J: Yeah, I think we won't include all 7 on the EP proper. Like it was mentioned earlier, I tend to drop a lot of songs... We dropped quite a few even to narrow it down to 7. Not to say they won't appear in future, and we'll definitely play some of them live in our next outing - whenever that may be.
A: In fact the song I auditioned with back in '09 was never used…
V: Yeah, there are still some songs we debuted at our last live gig that we haven't properly recorded.
A: The new EP is going to be a lot darker than UTR.
J: Oh yeah - it's aggressive. A lot heavier, but still melodic.
V: And still stinks of us.
A: We're not going grindcore anytime soon. Nothing wrong with grindcore, Napalm Death are awesome live. New Cattle Decapitation album is amazing too, Travis the vocalist screams actual notes, 1st time I've ever heard it.


RSF: Speaking of music, tell us what else you guys like?
A: The first band I ever liked was ZZ Top when I was 3. I wore out a VHS that has their videos on it but the 2nd half had Genesis on it and I never watch it. Deep Purple too, another one I loved when I was a kid.
V: I was singing along to Blondie, The Who and the Rolling Stones as a tot... and mesmerized by Toyah's pink hair when I saw her on telly. My all-time faves/influences would probably include Queen, X Japan, Def Leppard, Dream Theater, Siam Shade and Gackt to name a few... Oh, and to chuck a fairly odd/obscure one in there... Nik Kershaw. His album "The Riddle" had a profound effect on me as a kid.
J: I'll try and keep the answer short ahaha…If I have to answer my favourites-of-favourites... I'd go with Muse, X Japan and Queen.
A: as a Kid it was SOAD then Dimmu Borgir for a long time and Strapping Young Lad, then When I first got into VK it was due to the nature of bands styles changing from song to song, but I started finding even more extreme versions of it in Modern Progressive music, so some of my favourite bands now are, UneXpecT, Devin Townsend Project, Diablo Swing Orchestra, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Mastodon, Triptykon and so on, I still really like what Dir En Grey are doing now though their most recent stuff is very eerie and dark sounding.
V: Oh, and never forgetting Hide of course!
J: He's a man, not a band! Or was a man, But yeah, he's up there for me, too.
A: I put Devin Townsend I guess its OK [laughs]
V: I was thinking bands/artists in general…
A: The funny thing is my favourite bands now don't really influence my playing per se. I'm so heavily influenced by Norwegian Black Metal and Old School Death Metal that most of the stuff I write ends up like that. Although I'm working on some stuff in another band that's a mix of Mastodon, Muse and Every Time I Die/ Cancer Bats. Oh and LapFoxTrax. Renard is a genius, one guy 15+ aliases and I like almost everything he puts out, watched a stream of him making a track, its was literally a blur of hot keys and all of a sudden he had a track. Seriously, I have 45,500 songs in my iTunes.
V: Az is a walking music library!!
J: Shuffle must be ridiculous.
A: Aborted to FFX Piano Collection is usually quite funny. I have a large selection of Bach Organ works on here; always a welcome surprise as long as it's in minor.

RSF: You guys are from all over the UK…so how much work is involved to actually get together to record or play a show?
J: Usually it's about a week of prep for a show.
V: A lot! [laughs]
J: For recording it's more fluid, because we've all got our own recording equipment to various extents. 
V: In the grand scheme of things we can prepare very well in a relatively short space of time. I think we work well in those sorts of condensed conditions where we have to make the most of our time together in person.
A: J always travels the farthest by a long shot [laughs] 
J: If we do things in London it's not so difficult as it's a relatively easy place to get to, being the capital. But I'm Northern, so I have to trek down South.
A: And that I live here at the moment so J can stay here, but it's shall we say not suitable for a lady so V usually stays with friends or gets a hotel.
V: As if I'm any kind of lady! [laughs] But yeah, I know what you mean... and I can take up a lot of space with my shizz... even though I myself am quite compact. [more laughs]

RSF: What is the height difference between the three of you?
V: In miles or km?
J: There's Az, and then the rest of us. It's a two tier system.
A: I'm just under 6’4…
J: I'm not particularly tall for a guy, I'm 5'11. But V is midget.
V: I’m 5'3".
J: But even the distance in our height seems little in comparison to the towering Az…that makes no sense.
A: I had boots I was going to wear for a show, but they made me so much taller than everyone else I ditched them.
V: The only bassist visible from space!! Az has great stories about little kids' reactions to his mighty height though...
RSF: Do tell!
A: 'He touches the sky' was the best one. Oh and a kid falling over looking up at me.
J: 'Ahhh! It's coming!'
V: There... kills me every time!!
A: It may have been because I was wearing a trench coat at the time as well…
J: 'Get inside!!’
A: back when I was a youngling… my ex was 5 ft 1 so you can imagine the hilarity that ensued from that!!
RSF: I had a shorter than me boyfriend once…
V: How did that go?
RSF: It ended in pain and tragedy… for him.
A: Could have just kicked him…
RSF: Az you of all people should know it looks bad when a tall person drop-kicks a midget… even if it’s a biter.
J: Should we talk about the time that Az assaulted an old lady with a wellington boot?
A: Oh HERE we go!! [laughs]
V: She wasn't old, but she had two small kids...!!
J: They also got caught in the crossfire.
V: It was epic.
A: I was AIMING for the kids! Stupid woman got in the way.
J: He'd had a cider, so he was a little aggressive.
A: Yeah only 1, mind.
J: We overheard her talking badly about Devin Townsend's new album. Despite our best efforts to hold him back, he whipped off his boot, and threw it at her.
V: Ah, the rural British tradition of 'welly-wanging'...
A: I decided that she must be wiped from the Earth…that’s probably not even as funny as the reality of the situation
J: The situation wasn't funny at all, it was cringe-worthy. It was a strange competition to see who could throw a boot the greatest distance, and Az went for it, but ended up throwing it loosely - so it whipped up into the air and came down on some woman's head. Kizoku, our old drummer was with us then, I remember I saw… stood next to him…And we were like… O_O;;;
A: it was wet so I gripped it as tight as I could!!
V: Yeah, it was a village fete thing, but it had been raining and the welly was wet so Az lost his grip on the thing.
A: It got a good height on it though.
J: She wasn't best pleased…But luckily she wasn't too badly hurt.
V: Sad thing is I got the whole sordid affair on video on my camera... you can hear people gasping as the boot comes down. Yeah, no real harm done... bit of a legend though anyway.
J: It's a British thing. When someone offends you deeply, you whip the boots off. If you're not wearing boots, you just swear.
RSF: So, how do you guys work on material?
J: We're down with technology. While apart from each other we work on material using Dropbox.
A: We used to use Megaupload but we managed to move everything over before it was shut down.
J: Yeah, damn you, America… getting rid of Megaupload.
RSF: On behalf of America, I apologize for our occasional misdeeds
J: I'd like to live in LA… My last girlfriend was from America before moving here.
A: San Francisco for me… or Canada.
J: Isn’t Canada just from fairy tales? Does it actually exist?
RSF: Ummm… I’m not sure. I’ve met people from there… but I’ve met people from Wales also.
J: There's a lot of sheep.
A: And hills.
J: And people who the rest of the UK suspect like sheep a little too much. I should probably stop being silly else I may offend someone! [laughs]
A: I've been to Wales a number of times and I've never witnessed the aforementioned sheep-loving.
J: Have you seen their poor little faces? Sheep don’t lie.
V: When my Japanese friend came over to the UK for the first time and she saw sheep in the fields she wondered what they were...
A: How about hedgehogs? 
(at this point we were sent this image)
RSF: Well most of our readership comes from America, Japan and Canada right now…
J: Did I mention I love Canada?
A: And Japan?
V: and hedgehogs?
J: Not those little cunts.
V: Shush J, they might have hedgehog readers.
RSF: Now, you guys have an album recording... will there be any shows coming up? Or a tour? Or sausage?
J: Lots of sausage. As for a tour, we'd love one, but getting shows is problematic for a band who don't nicely sit within the parameters of the usual genres.
A: So far we've only played cons… have to say I've been paid more for those shows than any other [laughs]
J: We definitely will - but after the EP is released. We've had some conversations this year about shows that haven't materialized for one reason or another. But to answer the question to all three effects, ideally yes.
A: I'd love to get on stage again to play to new people.
J: Ditto.
V: For sure.
RSF: Ideal venue. No rules. Anywhere. Anytime. Physics does not apply. What is it?
A: Brixton Academy.
J: I'm seeing Blink there in July.
V: Tokyo Dome!!
J: We'll just crash a baseball game… And call it a gig.
A: I think Brixton is very good for its size…actually I'd say wherever is sold out with a good crowd really… nothing like seeing people move to your music to get you pumped up. No point playing an awesome venue if it’s empty, it's just depressing.
J: Truth.
A: I mean our last gig had a really good stage etc but the sound wasn't great and the venue was farrrrr too big, wasn't empty though.
J: We had a cat-walk, though. That was fun.
V: It was fun to have that little ego-ramp!
J: We also blew up half of the venue's PA. That's how you know we were good.
A: I don't think WE did that! [laughs]
V: I loved the architecture of the venue, too... sort of Victorian Gothic revival.
A: We need to get V-zhon a Kyo style ego box… [laughs]
J: Or as we call it in England… A stool.
RSF: Did any of you go to Hogwarts?
A: Yeah I flunked out after 6 months…something about blowing up someone’s ferret.
V: Sorting hat put me in Hufflepuff but my progress was limited – you can only get so far when all you're allowed to work with is safety scissors and glitter. Probably helped my album cover design skills though.
J: It's not what it's cracked up to be. Much more syphilis than the books say.
A: They still don’t have a spell to cure AIDS though, that’s why Voldemort looks like he does.
RSF: Last question: Is there any message you guys want to give to our readers?
J: We hope you will like our new EP, we're gonna work to get it released soon. But as previously mentioned (around 300 years ago I think) there should be a new song in a few weeks. And also, thank you - if you have read on this far.
V: And congratulations if you have!
J: We'd like to say there is a prize…But we can only give you mental images of Az and his nipple tassels.
A: From me, thanks for following us if you knew who we were before this. If not please check us out on all the regular channels ( and I hope you enjoy it… and shut up about those!!
J: It always comes back to nipples.
V: I'd like to say thank you to all who have been following us on our journey thus far, and we look forward to sharing our new material with you all. We hope there will be something for you all to enjoy/identify with and we'd love to receive your feedback.
And please forgive us our Britishness, as we forgive those who are Britishless against us... we know not exactly what we do. But we're having fun anyway and you're more than welcome to join us!

Big thanks to Machina Shogunate for participating! Be sure to check out their OHP at above address!!



  1. Loved the interview, love you guys and cant wait for the next "installment"!!! MD xxx

  2. Hilarious! Loved it!