Thurs March 7
Machine That Flashes makes entirely unspecific music. Though it's all heavy metal hardcore, it also turns towards spacey art rock and echoing, Cure-guitar goth. And while their vocals are completely guttural, they're quiet in comparison to the archetypal hardcore vocals that often tend to dominate the music. "Usually, hardcore bands are really forward with the vocals," says drummer Phil Hranicka. "Instead, we just use the vocals as one of our instruments."
You can tell this from listening to Machine's music, because their songs are extremely long--get it? Machine that Flashes and Flashes oy. But anyway, their song structures move in a lot of different directions, rather than merely wasting time (the opposite of Phish, for instance). One song can go from peppy guitar riffs to distortion to complacent singing, to effects, to screaming rock explosions. "We all listen to totally different kinds of music, so we all bring different elements of the songs, so they go on for a while," explains bassist Mike Stanioch.
Machine that Flashes also defies typical band structure, operating with two bass guitars and drums. This formation effectively makes their sound deeper and darker, especially in the slow, death-metal parts. It can even lighten their sound, tightening it to a slightly jazzy level in some of the bridges. Original members (since 1994--holy shit!) Stanioch and Matt Kramer (bass, vocals) didn't premeditate the double-bass configuration--rather, they just met up and got along. "I had been hooking up pedals to my bass and experimenting," Mike says, "and then I met Matt. We both wanted to make a band that was as different as possible."
Hranicka has been with the band since 1996--ever since they started recording the material on their new self-titled double disc. With sixteen songs, it's an ambitious effort; it includes newer songs the band was anxious to release, and old material--recorded in their old home cities of Milwaukee and Philadelphia--that they felt like they had to put out now or never.
Longevity seems to be the theme of Machine that Flashes. While most bands would have certainly gotten sick of each other after eight years, Machine's members have similar credos that help keep them together. And, though they get pissed off about the state of the political world and their personal problems, the music is "our venting," according to Phil. "We're all actually really happy people. Machine that Flashes loves each other."