Man as Machine is a band based in Johannesburg, South Africa. They Started in 2008 and in 2011 released their debut album titled “Nothing but a thing” followed by “Patterns” in 2015. Billy gets to talk with Rob from the band and he does what he does best, gives a pretty insightful interview. As usual, relax, get comfortable and enjoy this piece.
Billy (Audioinferno): Thanks for making out time to talk to me today.
Rob (Man As Machine): No problem.
Billy (Audioinferno): How are you doing today Rob?
Rob (Man As Machine): Very good thanks. It’s been a good quiet day.
Billy (Audioinferno): Nice. I had a very long day over here but it awesome we made time for this.
Rob (Man As Machine): Thanks for reaching out man.
Billy (Audioinferno): Sure thing. Can you tell me a little something about the creation of “Man As Machine”?
Rob (Man As Machine): At the end of 2008, there was a competition which ran for musicians. It was a big brother/rockstar supernova kind of idea. The point of which was to put 5 of each class (singers, guitarists, bassist, and drummers) in a house and in a different band each week. Celebrity bands came, mentored us, and jammed. Seether, Sugardrive, Taxi Violence, and more. In addition, at the end of each week, one of each type would be eliminated. Until you have the “ultimate” rock band. *laughs*
Norden, Xavier, and I were in that final band. We started up and gigged for a few months. KJ joined the lineup on drums in late 2009 and that’s really where Man As Machine began to take shape. That has been the lineup since.
Billy (Audioinferno): Oh wow. That sounds really cool. I wish we had stuff like that here. How the journey been for you guys so far?
Rob (Man As Machine): It’s been very exciting! We’ve released two albums, and few videos, played a ton of festivals and gigs all over SA and it’s getting bigger and better.
I think the journey, as you put it, of being in a regularly performing and touring band; being able to travel your art around; is a tremendously gratifying experience. The stories and moments from all these shows over the years are incredible and defining. Man As Machine is a family and we’re gonna keep making new stories.
Billy (Audioinferno): That sounds pretty exciting. I’ve had the privilege of talking to new bands and I hear the enthusiasm in their voices, I’ve also had the privilege of taking to some of these bands after an album or two and they almost always sound different. This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing, it’s just a testament to the fact that bands evolve and grow over time.
Billy (Audioinferno): After the release of your two albums “Nothing But A Thing” and “Patterns” would you say the band has evolved?
Rob (Man As Machine): Definitely. Aged like wine or whiskey, we like to think.
I mean, we got older. And that brings experiences and changes in our personal lives, which flow straight through into what we’re doing as a band. The music we’re listening to, life experiences, relationships, marriages, kids. The band family is growing. We grew as people, and so did the music and the songs.
Billy (Audioinferno): That makes me glad. What would you consider to be your biggest achievement so far, and what have your biggest challenges been?
Rob (Man As Machine): The albums are good milestones. We’re very proud of them. Performing at Oppikoppi was a big thing for us. So when we did our first one in 2014, that definitely rang an “achievement unlocked” bell. And we got to do it again in 2016. So, yay!
As for challenges, we’ve had a few normal ones. You know… Stupid fights about a song’s direction, or struggling to find rehearsal time. But those are just part of the gig.
The real challenge comes in choosing how to write or produce a song. We’re a slightly heavier rock band. Getting onto mainstream radio and growing the band name is tricky. We’ve done alright, but we also made the conscious decision to focus on us and not on what’s ‘popular’ or ‘trendy’. We’ve come to a point where, we do what we do. And people like it, so we’ll carry on. We’ll just do it better every time.
Billy (Audioinferno): Admirable work. Are you working on anything new at the moment?
Rob (Man As Machine): We have a few new songs that we’d like to release over the course of the coming year. Maybe some music videos and live videos.
We’ll be taking a break from performing for a year because I’ll be working in Asia. But we still want to keep releasing and keep busy, even though performing will be on hold. Man As Machine is still going strong. Perhaps a new album in 2018.
Billy (Audioinferno): Nice. How was the tour for the “Patterns” album?
Rob (Man As Machine): Fantastic! It was one the best tours we’ve had. Even though is was pretty short. I think we only did weekend shows.
Billy (Audioinferno): Hopefully, you’d have longer ones in future. Do you all have day jobs? how has balancing work with the music been for you?
Rob (Man As Machine): We would like to. Longer tours. Tours overseas. We have recently partnered with an organisation in Russia called BRICSarts. Who’s aim is to create cross-cultural performance platforms for artists from all of the BRICS represented countries. (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa)
We’ll be doing some work with them over the next few years. Not just for us, but to bring some of the shiningly talented artists that we have here and showcase them around the world.
Yeah, we all have jobs outside of the band. Xavier, a psychologist. Norden, an engineer. Myself and KJ are in music full-time. Session work, corporate entertainment, residencies, teaching, etc.
Finding the balance is extremely difficult. Especially because these jobs had to happen, and they became the reality. After all, being young when we started. We’ve had to adapt.
Billy (Audioinferno): That sounds exhausting😅. I really respect the work you’re doing.So far in South Africa, would you say the Rock Scene is experiencing any growth and how has that growth (if any) affected Man As Machine?
Rob (Man As Machine): I think the rock scene could be doing far better. This is obviously just my opinion and is limited by my personal experience… But I feel that support has dropped.
Venues are struggling to stay afloat, and they are fewer every year. It could just be the cycle of rock at this time in our history. Rock is not pop at the moment. Pop does not rock. I think Rock ‘n Roll will make a triumphant return to popularity. Let’s hope.
Billy (Audioinferno): We all share in that hope bro. It’s been awesome talking to you. Thanks for your time.
Rob (Man As Machine): No problem at all. Thanks again for the interview.