Machine Head recently visited Israel for the first time and amazed the crowd with their emblazing and inflaming shredding guitars and heartfelt screams. There's little need to introduce the band, for they have been active since 1992 and from the very beginning stood out as a prime act.
Interview with: Machine Head's Adam Duce, a founding member and bass player
In a back room, occasionally hearing some sound checks noises, hours before Machine Head tore the stage in Tel-Aviv, Adam Duce, the band's long running bas player and one of its founders, took some time to answer some of Alternative-Zine's questions and proved that some bands don't just give a hell of a good show, they're actually a hell of a good bunch of people to meet…
First of all, Adam, how's it goin'?
Pretty good, trying to relax before the show.
Where did you get to Israel from? What country's metal fans got to see you live before you arrived here?
Dubai, really? How was it?
It was awesome.
How was the crowd there compared to the European crowds?
Umm…you know, I don't really see the difference between the crowds anymore. I did at first, and now I see the similarities 'cause everybody is just people.
At first you really notice the difference and then after a while you just see the similarities. I mean, even in my neighborhood, people have differences.
What's your next stop?
Bangalore, India. Only we have to get from here to the UK, and then back to India.
Is this your first time here in Israel? What's your impression of it so far?
Yeah. Umm…I haven't done a whole lot, I ate something and then I went to sleep for the entire time and then I got out here.
You've been touring constantly since last march (when "The Blackening" was released), and it sure sounds rough – so I wanna know what's the first thing you do when you come home…what's you fantasy? You finish the tour, you get to your house and…
I get on my f**king Harley and go down the freeway at a hundred miles per hour…
How many years have you been riding?
How old am I? umm...25 years. I first went on when I was eleven, about 25 years ago.
Eleven?! What was it like driving it when you were 11? Tell us about the experience of being on a Harley for the first time…
Ah, it was amazing and it was kinda scary because I didn't know how to control it yet, it was all on dirt so…I learnt how to crash…*laughs*
You've shared stages over the years with some great bands and acts – including Slayer, Heaven & Hell, Megadeth, Metallica and recently Lamb Of God, Arch Enemy, Trivium and such - who did you enjoy touring with the most over the years? Who would you consider your friends now?
We're pretty easy going guys, so pretty much all of 'em are friends of ours.
What do you consider as an accomplishment in these terms…appearing next to?
Metallica, for sure. We got to do Slayer so early in our career, as our second tour so that quickly like totally wore off, and Metallica was one of the main reasons I got into music in the first place. I got out of reform-school and Logan, our first guitar player, he's my friend from when I was a little kid, he gave me a bunch of music and Metallica was one of the bands that had CD's there…or more like tapes, 'cause we didn’t have CD's back then…I didn't know music can even sound like that. I was into it right away, I was like: "I'm in, where do I sign?"
How did you decide to shift from someone who's listening to someone who's playing?
Well, Logan and I decided to be rock stars from a very early age, it was funny… you know that movie "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure"? It was totally like that. We went around for about a year telling everybody we're gonna be rock stars, without even knowing how to play a note *laughs*.
But without the total belief in yourself in the first place, I don't think you can do it. We didn't have to f**king play a note, just as long as we're into it!
Have you heard Betzefer's material before? What do you think about our Israeli band warming the crowds for the show today?
I haven't heard them play yet, they haven't played anything here since I got here…
What can the crowd expect from you guys tonight? Any surprises?
What can they expect? Pretty much everything that they've heard, we're gonna deliver on! We've never been here so all of it is gonna be a surprise… *laughs*
Let's talk about "The Blackening", your latest album, who already got some of the metal world's most respected awards, got praises from reviewer and fans alike and has become one of my personal favorites in 2007 – tell me, how does it feel to be recognized worldwide? With the Grammy you were nominated to and all…does it feel different from before?
Any nomination is awesome, it's been great being able to go down there, 'cause we haven't got any recognition in the US and to finally get somewhere with that - is great because you can' really take record sales as a gage anymore, since everyone steals music anyway…especially metal fans…"it's all free! I have a computer, I don't pay for music" *laughs* so you can't take that as any kind of a gage of how you're doing anymore, so to get that nomination from a group of people that's sanctioned to give out such nominations was really cool. Although, once you get into that, once you get the actual nomination, there are only so many people that are allowed to vote, and they buy in, so it's basically a popularity contest after that; Who have they heard of in this category? Well, they've heard of Slayer *laughing*.
How much does this sort of reward matter to you? How do you think it would've felt if you won the Grammy "Aesthetics of Hate" was nominated to?
If we would have won, it would've been a great banner in our camp.
Is there any other title that you're aiming at or thinking about?
Yeah. I would like to get a platinum sales plate in the United States *laughs*.
Regarding "Aesthetics of Hate", a song that's a retaliation to an offensive article regarding Dimebag Darrel…what do you think Dimebag would have said about the song if he had heard it?
I can't really guess what Dime would say about it, but I know Vinnie said that we couldn't have done it any better. I'm not even gonna speculate what Dime would've said but Vinnie has said that to me…
It's not the first time you've used Machine Head is a platform to sort unchecked bills with the likes of Grim, or other bands (like in "Ten Fold" from "Supercharger") – is it frustration that leads you to writing such songs or is it more of a need to retaliate?
You know what? Frustration is Fuel. Sometimes you just explode, that's where the music for "Aesthetics…" came from; Robb exploded one day and f**king had the whole song the next day. He wrote a bunch of stuff about losing someone and the way it hurts, he wrote a bunch of stuff about that guy Grim, I wrote a bunch of stuff about Dime and we put it together, and there you go.
When something effects you that much, it gets to you on a deeper level and even though you're already there writing, it makes you feel so much when you bring that out and have somebody else feel what you're feeling, because you're feeling it so hard from the moment that you passed it.
So what's the writing process in the band like usually? Is it like that way or do you usually sit and write an album in a concentrated session or do you do it on your free time in between tours?
When we have free time, in between tours, we ain't doing Sh*t! I'm riding my motorcycle; I'm just doing my regular life stuff.
We stop touring, take a few months off, and then we go back to writing again. We write stuff at home and then bring it in…we practice three days a week and put all the different ideas that we all come with together, and then we work on it for like a f**king year! We keep working on everything and then we figure out when it's ready to go.
The record company is always on us to put it out like a year before it's ready to go, and we're like: "Go F**k yourselves…your deadline doesn't mean sh*t to me"
I find so many of your songs' lyrics inflaming, even provoking revolution at times; what kind of revolution would you like to see happen?
I would like to see the total annihilation of the Jesuit society *laughs*.
Throughout your albums you refer to religion in a different manner than you refer to believing in a god, or in some divine justice system - do you think there's a difference between the two?
That's a good one right there…you see, religion is controlling; organized religion is totally controlling and the Christian conservatives all went the other way when Jesus came around…Jesus showed them the new way, the whole thing that Jesus had got totally turned around, the doctrine of rebirth got omitted from the scriptures, which was originally there up until 543A.D. – the doctrine of reincarnation was part of the scriptures until then but it didn't work out with their controlling theory so they got rid of that Shit. Most organized religions, like Roman Catholicism, are straight in-line with just control…and that's controlled by the Jesuit society *laughs* which is how you can get rid of that from the top down.
But I'm in church right now, wherever I'm walking around - I'm thinking of god every single day. I never darken the doorway of a regular church, never! ever! Because I think it is bullsh*t. I don't wanna listen to some guy who's getting paid to tell me about what he read in the f**king book, and tell me that I'm gonna go to hell if I don't think the way that he thinks – I hate that. It's such a waste of life to have this stuff going continually in your mind about "oh, I better not do that, or I'll burn in hell for eternity" - that's not the way it is. Hell is right here on earth and so is heaven, and then we come back and review the whole thing and come back to do it again. It's always a progression forward, there's never an end to it. You don't end up in this 'great suffering place' if you don't listen to that f*ggot on the podium.
So do you consider yourself a religious person?
No, I'm just part of the whole. I'm just one little part of the whole.
What about the others? Do they see it as you see it?
Those guys don't think what I think, no. I don't see it as my business to tell anybody how to think.
The reason why I'm asking is that some of the lyrics in your songs refer to such topics; doesn't it raise conflicts between you?
Sometimes it does…in "Halo" it's got references to the Christian conspiracy, and Phil (guitarist Phil Demmel) derives most of what he believes about god from the Christian faith, although he puts his own thing together…taken what he wants and leaves what he doesn't…this is what everybody should do.
Whatever's right for you is right for you, and what's right for me doesn't matter to you…don't impose what you're thinking on anybody else, that's what I hate about all the rest of it.
Moving on to lighter topics, what are you listening to these days?
You're gonna f**king laugh. *laughs* Alright, I've been listening to Coldplay. *laughing* yeah, that's right…because the lyrics are awesome, they're amazing and these guys are feeling it.
Do you listen to some oldschool stuff as well? old Metallica, Overkill, Judas Priest?
I listen to some oldschool stuff, but old Metallica – I can basically think about that and hear it in my head. It's other stuff that I've just been tuned into, or if I'm feeling a certain way…I've got a lot of weird things going around in my life right now and I think that's why I'm into Coldplay so much.
Music is the soundtrack to our lives and we navigate it towards what's going on in our lives. I do metal for a living, I f**king love metal, but there hasn't been a whole lot lately that I'm totally feelin'.
Does what you're listening to while writing an album, taking "The Blackening" for example, influence the way the album turns out to be? If so, what and who influenced you while writing it?
We listened a lot to ourselves and obviously we're fans so whatever we have been listening to made an impression on us, I'm pretty sure it had some kind of influence…
You think Coldplay had any part in that?
For me, personally, no. *smirks* Maybe for Robb…I wasn't listening to that back then. I think that the biggest thing that is responsible for how we came up with "The Blackening" is an idea that we had before, while we were writing "Through The Ashes Of Empires", and that is that if gonna do this – let's just be Machine Head, nobody can be Machine Head like we can. Let's just be ourselves and not worry about what else is happening right now, it doesn’t matter.
The reason we got to where we were was just that, when we started writing music it was because we weren't hearing what we wanted to hear and that's where "Burn My Eyes" came from. Doing something against the grain at the time…all that was popular back then was the Seattle grunge sound and there was one metal band actually doing metal and being successful – Pantera – I guess they influenced the Sh*t out of us *laughs*.
Going back to the past for a bit… what do you remember from the earlier days of Machine Head? Back when you just parted with Vio-lence and recorded your first demo…
I was never actually in Vio-lence, I played one show with them since they needed a bass player for it.
Well, Robb and I started the band, we put the band together in late '91 and we finished around June '92. The first rehearsals were…we were sitting on the floor in Robb's bedroom in our apartment and that's where we wrote "Death Church" and "Blood For Blood"…sitting there, on acoustic guitars, on the floor! *laughs*
Over the years MH suffered from many lineup changes, drug abuse and up's and down's regarding fans' reaction to albums – all these thing kept you back, so what do you think kept you going?
Umm…what kept us going is that we're really stubborn. We don't take no for an answer on anything. The whole time I was growing up, everybody told me that I couldn't do this. The way that I see it is if somebody's telling me that I can't do something – they're telling me that they can't do it. It doesn’t mean anything about me. I hear that all the time…when somebody says "oh, you can't do that" I hear "oh, I can't do that". Don't bother me with what you can't do; I don't need to hear that.
Which of MH's songs' lyrics do you feel suite your state of mind the most?
I love our different albums for different reasons. "Burn My Eyes" – I love that record because it was four starving kids which had nothing, that just kicked in the door of the music industry. Full force, we're coming in and there's nothing you could do to stop us. It was amazing, but this last record is where the diversity is…how much is packed into these 8 songs…it's just amazing.
How did you feel when you first heard the finished product? Done recording, done mixing, done mastering and giving "The Blackening" its first full spin…
Probably like a very proud parent of a baby that just got born perfect. I don't know, I don't have any kids, but I'm guessing.*laughs*
It is no secret that "The Blackening" was available for online download (illegally) prior to its release last year, and so are many other music albums, and I'm sure you have something to say about it. As far as I've seen, it didn't do you much harm – on the contrary, it seemed to have created hype around the album – so what is your take on P2P, Rapidshare and such? Do you think it's more positive or negative?
The day we gave it to the journalists, one of those a-holes put it on… Well, some of both… I think that you're right; it did create more hype with people wanting to get it and to get the whole packaging. So there's gonna be people like that and there's gonna be more people that are just downloading and just burning it. I think that it ultimately hurts, but it is a bit like a tool…I don't know, it changed the way things are done now because if you've got a good record then its hype gotten off it, if you've got a shitty record then everybody knows it before it comes out. It sinks like a tank; you're dead in the water.
Continuing on this line, the web plays a prominent role in music (and people's lives in general) these days more than even before – do you see is more like a tool for promotion or an actual medium for expression?
You know, I answer people that email me on MySpace or whatever…
Anyway, I don't watch TV, 'cause I hate TV. Anything it has to tell me is Bullsh*t, just a bunch of lies, so I have a TV but I just use it to watch videos…
I also affectionately refer to it as "the glowing liar in the corner", which doesn’t get any time to lie to me 'cause I don't turn it on unless I'm gonna watch a DVD.
What do you guys like to do as a band that's no performing, rehearsing or touring? Is there a 'Machine Head thing' you do on your spare time?
Yes, stay away from each other when we go home *laughs*.
We live together all the time when we're out here so when we go home…no…"hey, what are you guys doing tonight?" NO. I do my own thing and they wanna do the same…they got enough of me as well.
Last question – what would you like to live to see happen?
The total annihilation of the Jesuit society *laughs*.
What is the one thing you'd like to live to say and to whom?
I couldn't even tell you that, it's too personal.
And what haven't you done that you'd like to live to do once?
I have such a one-track mind right now, it's the same thing I didn't want to tell you about *laughs*.
Best of luck with the show, hope you enjoy it as much as the crowd… keep shredding, breaking necks, punching ear drums and blasting 'till someone pulls the plug.