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Album Review+Interview: SYD.31 - Machine Ready

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

The machine God will see you now.. What is it to be human and what is it to compete with ever prevalent machinery and biological obsolescence? What use is the flesh against these aural shockwaves and legions of electric belt fed riffs delivering shock and awe munitions of ever increasing guitar magnitude? Join the assembly line and find out.


Q. You have mentioned to me before that ‘Machine ready’ is not just about A.I, algorithms, and machines manipulating our future lives more than they already do but that being human is about the ability to lose control and that a lot of recent events have set the foundations of the future your album seeks to explore. Do you see this as an ironic and accidental planned obsolescence of the human race, and can you elaborate more on the core concept of Machine ready as a whole in regards to this theme? A. Machine Ready is about the omnipresence of AI and algorithms, and what it means to be human in the emerging machine age. We thought creating artificial intelligence, we would be creating life, we would become gods. But instead, we are becoming Neanderthals – where it dawns on us that were are not the smartest entity on the planet. We will not be able to compete with super intelligence. We shouldn’t try, its a losing game. Instead we should focus on what makes us truly human, It's not our logic. The last few years has defo shown us that. What makes us really human is our soul – the ability to lose control, which machines will never do. The ability to create and imagine. Machines will never be created to feel loss, nor grieve nor experience those micro-bonds that even we don’t have words for – the touch of a hand, the smell of a new-born. A machine will never feel the joy of sweat, breathlessness, and ten thousand people in a field dancing to the same beat. It's these that makes us human, from when we first walked on the planet - not our ability to count. These are the signatures of our soul. To be machine ready we need to have soul. Machine Ready is a soul album.

Q. In the release notes you say that you always tried to recreate what you imagined as a child when you read a Christian propaganda book about the dangers of Punk music. Do you feel like you’ve achieved that with this album and do you feel like the Mad Max style world your album plays out points out the absurdity of the world and how that kind of propaganda across many different aspect is actually pushing our world to the brink of destruction? A. The propaganda from that Christian book worked in ways they didn’t expect. Reading and re-reading it I got a sense that these dangerous punks and rock stars were vulnerable creatures, trapped in their own hell-scapes, the anxiety of falling out of Heaven, never being able to fit in. Fallen angels hiding in plain sight. I fell in love with the fragility of these characters and wanted to reflect the fragility in my album too.

They never wanted to be bad, not all were lost, just made a few wrong turns. Years later you see sex drugs ‘n roll killed too many of them. So much propaganda today is trying to portray groups like Extinction Rebellion, Trans Activism, Black Lives Matters or Left wing thinking as some form of evil. We aren’t. In a way, we believe in a heaven too. We just want all to be part of that heaven, even if it feels Heaven kicked us out as we wouldn’t wear a tie! (Therapy?- ‘Going Nowhere’) I’m gonna leave this question with a quote from Mathew 9:12 – It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. If we don’t all work together, and give help where it's needed then it's game over for mankind, as a species and as individuals too.

Q. This album has a lot of variety in it and the format of each track has very clearly had a lot of thought put in to each one. We see post rock with ‘Imitating art’ horror punk predominantly, Hip-Hop, and even a synth wave style intro/outro with ‘Disassemble me.’ With so many different instruments and styles, was this album a project to prove just how much you could push yourself musically or did it all just come naturally without much thought to variety? A. That’s a real good question and one I’m still trying to explore. I’m slightly autistic and dyspraxic. I used to have seizures as a kid. Its taken me until my 40’s to realise I experience the world differently to everyone I know. I dream in sound. The music in my head never stops.

As I get older I’m more confident to talk about all the music that inspires me, because no-one likes the guy that says..

“Hey, I like all kinds of music”.

I’m old enough to not give a crap. So once the song writing floodgates open, I just see wherever it takes me. It's fully natural and like visiting the 4th Dimension that no-one else can see.

Image: William Mawdsley Photography

Q. A lot of the guitar riffs in this album would give Doof warrior some real pangs of jealousy. Which track was your favourite guitar wise and would you say the album was written more around the sound or more around the lyrics? A. Ah waay cool. That’s a super compliment, thank you. The lyrics were written last for each track. I’d just create these soundscapes and listen to them repeatedly until the lyrics come to me. Normally I’d improvise the lyrics, but this time I had to force myself to get into deeper memories and revisit empathetically the events I’m singing about. I do love some of the solos as they capture experiences I’m reliving, such as one ‘As They Let You Down’ as it sounds like I’m hugging my partner. It’s a solo with love in mind. My proudest moment though is probably the intro to Collapsing New Stars. Nothing too complex, it just syncs together perfectly – lead, rhythm, and noise. Same with 'It Came To This' – my bass, rhythm and, lead all blend together satisfyingly.

Q. What sort of people do you feel would benefit the most from the messages of these songs?

A. Not that I want to exclude any demographic, but I really hope young men listen to this – masculinity can be so tragically defined by ‘being tough’ or ‘manning up’. There are gonna be times that are so incredibly hard that it feels like it will destroy you.

You don’t need to compete, nor ever need to be shamed about being vulnerable. All the lyrics are true stories and about real people. Some heavily disguised for reasons of anonymity. These are events people went through too, just like young folk are going through today.

Q. Are there any music videos and merchandise for this release in the works?

A. Oh yes!! T-shirts and CDs to support the album and a video too. As long as lockdown lets us record the video. So far, all I can say about the video is that its going to include a LOT of fire and LOT of petrol.

It's being done by one of the best metal video makers. If you have seen any Napalm Records videos, you will have probably seen his work.

As an artist I guess I'm supposed to do merch as it’s the done thing. But I want to create merch that's worthy of people’s support. It means everything to me when people buy it and I want to give people something to love, art that means something.

Image: Nigel Messenger

Q. What do you see the world being like in five years and how do you think SYD.31 and musicians in general will adapt and change accordingly?

A. Reality is going to hit hard for many people at the top. Brexit is an utter failure for the arts and I can't see any way forward than for the government to make big changes for us.

In addition, the streaming industry is starting to be held to account and its inequitable distribution of income. Both of these are going to change, thanks to pressure from artists and movements like The Musicians Union. I’m pa