Build A Machine is a three piece funk, hip hop, reggae, rock band who are originally from Boston but are currently living in Huntington Beach, California. They just completed recording their first EP in the middle of the desert, appropriately titled, The Desert Sessions.
The band is Mike Serra on vocals and guitar, Thomas McCarthy on vocals and bass and Tyler Saraca on drums. Their music focuses on beautiful harmonies, filthy riffs and trippy reggae. They’ve played at The Vans Warped Tour, as well as opened for artists such as: Slick Rick, Steel Pulse, Rootz Underground, Fishbone, Tribal Seeds, and Fortunate Youth. Another band highlight is backing Fishbone’s Angelo Moore’s solo project.
They decided to do things differently when recording their new EP. This adventurous band traded in their usual expensive studio time for a short term rental among the inspiring desert landscape of Joshua Tree, California. There, free from the daily tolls of life and limitations of working with producers, they were able to self produce their tracks whilst experimenting and exploring different musical landscapes through improvisational jamming and freestyle singing. Heavily affected and influenced by the energy that the desert atmosphere provided, the boys decided to record all their music live together, a difficult and challenging feat, as well as engineer it themselves, truly making it their own. They then turned to Ryan Siegel, who has worked with big names such as 311 and Glassjaw, to mix the record.
Examiner spoke with Mike Serra about their latest recording and their current promotional tour which started in mid-September 2014.
Examiner: Where was your first show and what was that like to play your music to a live audience?
Serra: “Our first gig together was actually pretty hilarious. We were playing a big college event in Worcester, MA at this club and the place was PACKED. One of our buddies was so drunk that he stumbled into the electrical outlets that powered the whole show and ALL sound cut out except for the drums. We turn around to figure out what happened and see him with his pants around his ankles jumping with the cords trying to plug them back in. That show was definitely one for the books.”
Examiner: Do you have a particular moment thus far where you said to yourself, WOW?
Serra: “We have quite a few ‘wow’ moments in our career but there are three that definitely stick out for us. The first ‘wow’ moment was while we were living in the Joshua Tree making our album. We met these incredible local musicians and joined forces to form a sort of ‘supergroup’. With only 2 days of rehearsal, we were invited to perform at the Coachella festival near Palm Springs being direct support for Passion Pit. It was one of the best nights/shows of our life. 6,000 people in attendance.
The second would be when we officially moved to LA. We were broke, sleeping in our van, taking showers at the beach where you rinse off, etc. We ended up going to this little club near Hollywood because we heard Stephen Perkins from Jane’s Addiction was drumming. Long story short, we met him and told him our story. He had a lot of respect for us putting 100% into our band and moving out west from Boston to take it to the next level. He ended up inviting us to his house to record at his home studio and actually played percussion on a track!
Third and final ‘wow’ moment happened to us during one of our shows in Venice Beach, CA. We were opening for this group called Banyan (features Stephen Perkins from Jane’s Addiction, Mike Watt, Nels Cline of Wilco) and Brandon Boyd from Incubus came to our show. Incubus has been a huge influence on us so we were tripping out! We ended up talking with Brandon for an hour about the business and he gave us some real good tips.”
Examiner: What do people say about your music, who do they compare you too?
Serra: “People always say we sound a LOT bigger for a three piece band. We have been compared to Rage Against the Machine, Sublime, and Beastie Boys. We get a lot of praise for our vocal harmonies and guitar solos too.”
Examiner: How was it living out in the desert and how did the three of you agree that that would be the best place to coordinate your music and record your first EP?
Serra: “The Joshua Tree desert was an absolutely amazing and magical experience. There is an energy out there that is sort of indescribable. We took a trip out there one day while we were all sharing an apartment in Huntington Beach, CA and just always had it in the back of our mind. As a group we wanted our first release to be something special and have the right energy to it so we figured Joshua Tree was a no brainer really. We wanted to be able to focus on the music without any distractions so we rented this amazing tile house really far out there. It’s an incredibly stylistic, tripped out house with an amazing creative energy. Such artists as Joni Mitchell and Erykah Badu have stayed there and written music as well. We were so confident with our writing out in the desert that we ended up engineering and producing the record ourselves.”
Examiner: You started your promotional tour in September? How has the audience received you?
Serra: “The September East Coast tour was great! The audiences were really digging the music and we got the word out about our upcoming release ‘The Desert Sessions’ big time! A few standout shows for us were The Boston Freedom Rally on the main stage and Opus Underground in Salem, MA. The crowds were going crazy and the vibes were real high.”
Examiner: What advice would you give to new students graduating Berklee College of Music?
Serra: “I would say to not let all the competition discourage you. There are a TON of people all striving to get gigs but keep it unique and stay true to your original style. That is what will set you apart from the others. Lastly, figure out a solid payment plan because I heard tuition is really high!”
Expect an east coast tour around spring/summer 2015
More band info: http://www.buildamachinemusic.com, http://buildamachine.bandcamp.com/