This band was once quoted as being a band ahead of their time. Starting in 1985 this was dance music at its best. I first heard of them while watching “countdown” on Saturday nights and loved their sound and style. The album “Big Music” had a number of hits including “My Hearts On Fire”,”You Got Me Going Again” and “No Say In It” which is my pick on the album with its punchy beats and rhythmic guitars. The Machination's Myspace Page is a great site to visit and has some great songs to listen to… one of those songs is “cars and planes” off a later album and is very hard to find.
Machination's Tim Doyle and Tony Starr first started writing together at the end of 79. Using varied 'electronic gadgetry' (drum machines, synths) their initial musical ideas were realised. Upon the return of old school friend Fred Loneragan from overseas, lyrics were soon written and they had a strong vocalist. This original nucleus of the band played their first gigs in the inner city of Sydney in early 1980. The band were not so concerned with commercial aspirations but with the desire to perform for an audience. Their first show was at Garibaldis, a punk venue disguised as a restaurant in Darlinghurst. This was followed by residencies at the Heritage Hotel in King's Cross and at the Rock Gardens down the road in William St They had played only a few shows in all before they were joined onstage by another enlisted schoolmate, Nero Swan on bass guitar, although their drummer remained a Roland CR-78 for the next couple of years.
With the support of the then 2JJ radio station, the band recorded some of their songs at Annandale's Trafalger Studios with Lobby Loyde at the helm in November 1980. These sessions produced the single "Average Inadequacy" and their debut self titled E.P They were recorded essentially live in the studio with little production and released on the Phantom label, headed by Jules Normington (soon to become a trusted friend). Again with the support of 2JJJ both releases received plenty of airplay and dramatically increased the bands following.
Management comprised it's founder Lobby Loyde, an accountant, receptionist and the various tour managers of the bands it managed, Sunnyboys, Machinations, TableWaiters and Local Product. Sunnyboys were a huge and immediate success with the Mach's hard on their heels. TableWaiters, very much a band of their times with great players, lots of synths and piled-on hair held great potential but disbanded early after their initial releases held limited appeal and were met with indifference from the public. Local Product, a great little hard aussie rock group had a similar fate and disbanded early, a great shame as in this writers opinion anyway, they could have become one of the great Australian rock bands. The band were joined briefly around 1982 by drummer Henri Downes (he appears in the "Jumping the Gap" filmclip ). Warren Maclean (drums on Big Music) joined in 1983 and remained untill 1986 when he left the band for the band I'm Talking. Maclean was followed by Kiwi John Mackay, from Nick Conroys band - Castles in Spain. Mackay was the final addition to the Mach's line-up and remained till Machinations split in 89.
|L-R: Nick, Fred, Tim, Tony|
The Mach's residency at the Rock Gardens proved fortuitous for the band. The venue was located across the road from JJJ's then studios on William St. Any band that played more than once there was likely to be noticed (particularly if they were any good). It was an unofficial proving ground for many of Sydneys unsigned bands. Pel Mel, Laughing Clowns, JMM, Scapaflow, Surfside Six, the Thought Criminals all received JJJ attention. "Average Inadequacy" was a huge JJJ favourite. The song remained in their Hottest 100 well into the early 90's [extract from Machination's Myspace Page]
('Big Movers' Countdown Magazine, July 1985 p22-23)
Larger than life and twice as exciting, Tim and Fred of the Machinations detail the blood, sweat and tears behind their 'epic' second album.
It's Big. And pretty diverse. "There's a bit of reggae and a few other surprises", says Fred Loneragan. "We wanted it to sound epic - we wanted that epic sound and we wanted to get it pretty raw and loud and brash. Big noises" elaborates Tim Doyle.
The singer and guitarist from Sydney'sfunky Machinations are describing their new album "Big Music". Big hopes are pinned on this, the band's second LP. It's certainly an impressive package - full of catchy sounds, the latest production tricks and perhaps most important of all - good songs. But recording is not always a harmonious process as the chaps recall.
"There was a big fight about the melody in 'My Heart's On Fire'says Tim. "While we were in the studio we kept changing the song. One minute it was a sixties rocker, a hundred-miles-an-hour thing, and the next it was slowed right down..." Fred remembers. "It almost turned out to be a surfin' sixties song...I spent four days in an isolation chamber to come up with the lyrics. "And every time he came out", Tim continues, "we'd say, No - that's not right - back in you go!"
There seems to be some interesting ideas ideas lurking beneath the surface of the single - exactly what are those all about? Fred and Tim put their heads together "Well you tell me Tim"..."It's a secret Fred". Tim eventually makes the announcement, "It's about a man who rules the world and every time you hear his words", he says quoting from the lyrics "Your hearts on fire".
"The other day a journalist from Queensland told me that he thought it was about Joh Byelke and I said "For you. I'll chnage it to Joh". But if you think about it, it applies to any dictator really.
An ageing nuclear-happy cowboy is the obvious one to come to mind, "That's what I was going to say", Tim admits, "But I didn't want to say it. He's never married, soyou can make up someone to fit - it could be your father, your boyfriend..."
The group are rather happy with the clip to "My Heart's On Fire", but they just can't quite explain to my satisfaction why it features the unlikely settings of "a coalfield and a sausage factory"
It has nothing to do with Ronald Reagan or Joh Bjelke" says Fred, "if it has a theme then it's just about someone who's trying to break through..Look.."
He displays some nasty scars on his hands that he got during the filming, "from stuntwork-and falling over. I had to do all this flying through the air and diving into ciold rivers with all this smoke all around me..."
"He nearly got set on fire" recalls Tim.
"Why did I get to do it? Just unfortunate I guess. I tried to talk Fane Flaws, the director, into doing it but he wouldn't buy it."
On the evidence ("Pressure Sway" hitting No.1 in nine American cities) it seems that machinations music travels well. After all, anyone can speak solid, danceable funk music. Fred and Tim seem to like the idea: "Yeah," says Fred, "we've always tried to stay away from flag-waving Australianisms and to make it more international.".
Our sort of influences are international anyway, asserts Tim. "From all over the place, American, German, Japanese, French...the works"
I ask about their favourite tracks from 'Big Music' and Tim goes through a list which becomes the entire album. He's obviously happy with it, he even offers to sing me the songs, which I politely decline. Fred reacts with exaggerated relief, "You've heard about Tim's voice, have you !"
(Review by Rosa Senese)
.This post consists of an MP3 rip (320kps) taken from my vinyl and includes full album artwork. I have also included a couple of dance mix versions of "No Say In It" as bonus tracks, which were released on a 12inch E.P I purchased when this album was released. Although not a huge fan of 'dance mixes' I quite like these extended versions of the original hit single.
Big Music is a decent album and typical of the mid-80's, with lots of synth's and dance beats - not unlike that of Simple Minds and Spandau Ballet.
01 - My Heart's On Fire
02 - Predator
03 - Jabber
04 - Execution Of Love
05 - Spark
06 - No Say In It
07 - Don't Take Me
08 - You Got Me Going Again
09 - Minutes Black
10 - The Letter
11 - No Say In It (Bonus track - Machinations cut mix)
12 - No Say In It (Bonus track - Mendelsohn's played mix)
Fred Loneragan - Vocals
Tim Doyle - Guitar
Tony Starr - Keyboards
Nick Swan - Bass
Warren McLean - Drums, Vocals
The Machinations MP3 (130Mb) New Links 22/10/2015
The Machinations FLACs (415Mb)