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Alex Machacek: Boy That's Sick!

By Published: January 1, 2007

AAJ: On [Sic] you use samples of Bozzio's drumming. Is an album of entirely sampled or programmed sounds something that you might like to do in the future?

AM: I would consider it. If I had music that would sound better just played from the computer then I would do that, but as long as he feels comfortable playing it then I'll ask him to play it.

AAJ: On your new album you reappraise "Austin Powers, which was on the BPM album Delete and Roll (NGE 2001). Are you ever truly satisfied with a composition or are you like Duke Ellington where every song is just a work in progress?

AM: I was actually satisfied with it on BPM but I re-did this song because on BPM it was just a trio and it was recorded live in the studio therefore I didn't have all the possibilities for layering certain instruments. You would have to have a pretty large ensemble to play all those parts. So I thought, "Why not just do it again? and actually this was a song considered for a [guitarist] Shawn Lane tribute album which never came out and I thought, "Well, then, okay. I'll put it on my record, because I liked the way it turned out. It's just a different version. And by the way it's one of the band's favorite songs, almost our "hit so it might even end up on a live record again!

AAJ: So we can expect to see it again on your first greatest hits album?

AM: Actually, one should start with a greatest hits album.

AAJ: What is the story behind the song title "Ballad of a Dead Dog?

AM: It's my mother. Whenever my mother hears an upright bass solo she says, "Well, this sounds awful! It sounds like the ballad of a dead dog. That's how my mother perceives a bass solo. But it's just a great title.

AAJ: Well I'm glad to hear that your dog hasn't died. That's good news.

AM: I'm not allowed to have dogs in my apartment. I'm very sorry about that. I would love to have dogs. But maybe one day...

AAJ: I think you should write a song called "Ballad of the Absent Dog and that might send a message to your landlady.

AM: I will write that down now because that's good! "The Ballad of the Absent Dog!

AAJ: I've noticed that guitarists have reacted with great surprise that you use an old Korean Steinberger and are able to produce such a great sound. Is it really such a crappy guitar?

AM: This one which I use on this album I've used for a long time. I ordered it off the internet. Steinberger doesn't really exist anymore. Steinberger is owned by Gibson now and they came out with a cheap line. I think my guitar was what, three hundred bucks? I bought it because I thought it was a great travel guitar but I happened to like the sound a lot.

I changed the pick ups I have to admit that. People say it's a crappy guitar but you know people say a lot sometimes. Many people think a $4,000 guitar is great. I don't necessarily agree. I think each guitar is different and all you have to do is try it out. Does it fit your style of playing? The so-called cheap guitars are really well made nowadays and some of them are absolutely useable.

AAJ: Do you think your composing has developed over the last few years?

AM: I hope so. I truly hope that I have developed. Actually today I put up Featuring Ourselves (NGE 1999) for download on Abstract Logix and I listened to it again and thought actually I'm glad that this is over because I play a little bit different now and that's fine with me. I'm not sorry about this album but I can hear that I play differently. I compose differently. I wouldn't like to do the same thing for ever. Yes, I have evolved a bit.

AAJ: In a recent concert [drummer] Bill Bruford said that contrary to popular belief he isn't most happy when thrashing around on his kit doing a solo but when he is playing on a beautiful ballad; I wondered whether you are happiest when lost in a solo or during group interplay?

AM: The latter. Let's put it like this, I would try to do whatever the music demands. I'm not this guy, this one-man show who can show off everywhere. I prefer good interplay.

AAJ: The last time you spoke to AAJ you had no record deal and were selling CDs at gigs and doing your own promotional work, but now you've signed with Abstract Logix which seems to be a very interesting outfit. Could you tell us about your label?

AM: I've known Souvik [Dutta] for a long time. He approached me because Shawn Lane told him about me and when I heard that I was really flattered. Anyway, Souvik from Abstract Logix always said, "Hey, if you want to release another record would you be interested in us releasing it? Obviously I was interested.

Abstract Logix took great care of the promotion and press work and still does. I'm really happy to hand that over to someone else. Also I have complete artistic freedom—they don't tell me anything. They didn't give me a deadline. I told Souvik, "It's ready when it's ready and he was happy with that. It's a very uncommon record deal. Actually, it's the best record deal ever!

AAJ: You have some interesting stable mates at Abstract Logix as well.

AM: Yes, Jimmy Herring, Scott Kinsey—since Abstract Logix released the last two albums Souvik gets I don't know how many requests each day from people who would want him to release their projects. He told me, "I can't do that all the time because it takes up so much time and energy to promote these records and very often I have to say no even though I maybe would like to do it. Abstract Logix seems to be a very attractive label. It stands for something.

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Download jazz mp3 “Why Not” by Alex Machacek