Anything but a 3 power-chord band
Sordid presents one of the more intelligent, complex and intricate bands from the Darkside.
The Machine in the Garden draw on such influential figures in music as Depeche Mode; The Cure; New Order; Christian Death and David Bowie; to make music that spans the Gothic genre, but also moves beyond it. The band began as a solo project by Roger Fracé in about 1991. In 1997, he was joined by Summer Bowman who brought her range of influences to the band.
"Musically, my inspiration ranges from goth to ethereal to classical to jazz. Mostly my inspiration is drawn from whatever is happening in my life at the time, emotions, feelings, etc."
In comparison to the wasters and Art School drop-outs that normally make up the business we call music, tMitG is made up of two well-educated musicians. Roger has an MFA in Electronic Arts, while Summer has a BA, and is currently pursuing a PhD, in anthropology. She has also had years of vocal instruction. Gothic/industrial music does seem to be a strange style of music for them to choose. However, Summer disagrees.
"In order to make good goth music, I think one must be well-trained (whether one was self-taught, or had extensive training). Gothic music uses such a variety of styles and has such a remarkable amount of variation in it. I really think that goth is one of the only styles of music that is constantly evolving and changing and growing. Musicians I enjoy in the gothic genre are very well-trained and create music that does not cease to amaze in terms of its technical merit."
Roger is fairly modest about his musical abilities, but does agree that his artistic training adds to the music they make.
"By no means am I any virtuoso pianist or guitarist, and frankly, I don't even think my voice is that great. My musical training is in composition, which I think shows in the music. If anything, we're not a 3 power-chord band. I think the bands that have classical or compositional training can create music with greater longevity. I think most tMitG songs have a great deal of compositional merit from various perspectives. Also creating songs that span so many genres helps quite a bit as well."
In short, the Machine in the Garden play the kind of music they both like. However, Roger is wary of an unconditional acceptance of the Goth tag.
"I wouldn't really consider our music strictly Goth in any way. Our fans range from Goths to alternative to even some older people who just like different music (very not-goth)."
One of his aims for the band is to go beyond the general view of Goth as "depressing noise", which he thinks is typified by the "3 power chord" bands. However, many would argue that Goth, as a genre, is defined by its visual aspect, rather than the music. How else could bands as diverse as Fields of the Nephilim, Bauhaus and All About Eve ever be classified together. From this perspective, tMitG is undeniably a Goth band, with lashings of black leather, eyeliner, black lipstick and pretentious poses. However, the Goth look is generally saved for the nighttime.
"On a day to day basis, no one would probably peg us as Goth, except maybe for the band T-shirt pared with jeans. As for myself on a day to day basis, I tend to go for a mix of black or dark colors in a comfortable style. In the evenings, if we go out, or play a show, I tend to dress up and do the Goth fashion thing, but I am definitely not wearing what anyone else is. I have a very definite sense of personal style. The thing I love about the Gothic look is that there really isn't a 'Gothic' look. I always hate 'rush' on campus, when the frats and sororities are dong their initiation thing. They all look like little clones of one another! Goths all have such an individual sense of style, and one would be hard pressed to find two that dress exactly alike."
Despite much evidence to the contrary, there is still the attitude around that Goth flared up in the early to mid 80s, died and should have stayed dead. Newer Goth bands are seen as clinging to a past and unpopular genre of music. This attitude is something with which Roger disagrees. He holds that it's now more popular than ever.
"I guess they'd batter catch up to the 90s then, eh? In the early 90s, before rave came really big, even mall stores were carrying a lot of the 'Goth' look. Now there's also stores like Hot Topic which promote various alternative cultures to the max. Musically, bands that have been traditional labeled as Goth: like Siouxsie, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, Dead Can Dance; are now mainstream. We even saw a Bauhaus reunion tour this last year. Sure, a lot of these bands have progressed beyond traditional 'Goth', but the underlying fan base and musical influence is still there."
However, he does not paint a completely rosy picture of the scene. He's not happy with the way that many Goths do cling to the past and are only interested in the 'classic' bands.
"What really disturbs me is that one can go to a club and not hear any music written within the last 5 years. Does that mean anything new is bad? No. A lot of people don't like to change and feel 'safe' with the classics."
One part of the 90s Goth revival that Roger dislikes is the classification of Marilyn Manson as Goth.
"Marilyn Manson is not Goth. End of story. Too bad the media had to decide he was. There's so much better music out there."
Goth or not, it is undeniable that Manson is one of the main reasons the genre has made a comeback. The fact that he has been called Goth has led to a huge amount of interest in other bands, who are definitely Gothic. Summer does not have a problem with people have being introduced to Goth via Manson.
"I know perfectly decent people who like Manson, fine. But that people consider him Goth and that there are arguments over if he is Goth or not gets grating after awhile. Frankly, I am sick of hearing about it, and sick of the media's newfound perception of Goth based on Manson."
tMitG themselves are anticipating one or two releases this year, as well as some compilation appearances. They are also talking licensing deals with 2 companies (who are to remain anonymous for now); one in Germany and one in the States.
"We'd like those to include both brand new material as well as older stuff (including more of the 'éire' EP). Otherwise, we're just going to keep writing music and running Deus ex Musica and try to play some live shows."
Girl the Goth