Alex Machacek: Boy That's Sick!
AAJ: Can you expand a little on that last comment?
AM: Souvik is a very active guy. When he does something he does it right and this is very attractive.
AAJ: In November you played a couple of gigs in Long Beach and San Pedro in a bass-less trio and at the Baked Potato you're playing in a quartet with two guitarists; these slightly unconventional set-ups must pose interesting challenges to you as a guitarist?
AM: The bass-less trio comes from the duo I have with Sumitra, my wife. The drummer, Mario Lackner, who recorded Sumitra's last album Indian Girl (NGE, 2004) came to L.A. for a couple of months to visit. We had some gigs lined up and invited him to join us. In this trio he uses a very small set-up without a bass drum. He uses a Cajon and he plays mostly with brushes. The trio is more like an extension of the duo. And the thing with two guitaristsyeah, you have to be careful with two guitars.
AAJ: So you are comfortable, you are challenged playing in different environments, different set-ups?
AM: Oh definitely. In Austria I did so many different things, interesting set-ups. I like that because you have to find your own place within a certain set-up and that keeps it interesting for me.
AAJ: I've read and heard you in an interview mention [guitarist] Ben Monder as a guitarist you admire. Could you tell what you like about his playing?
AM: Well first of all I just like to listen to him and secondly he's one of those guitarists who has developed his own sound/style. He's got an awesome right handI think he's classically trained, if I'm not mistaken, and he does stuff that I will never be able to do. His compositions, his whole approachthat's what really attracts me. He's different, definitely different.
AAJ: Could you recommend a Ben Monder album?
AM: Ah, I've got all of them: Excavation (Arabesque, 2000) is a good one, Dust (Arabesque, 1997) then Flux (Songlines, 1995) his first one I guess. Oceana (Sunnyside Records, 2005). I listen to all of them. He's definitely one to watch out for.
AAJ: He's been around for a long time though, hasn't he?
AM: You know about him but he should be more well-known.
AAJ: Well, that's why I'm asking you about recommendations. I think that there are a lot of really talented musicians who just for lack of exposure never quite get where they deserve to be. Moving on, recently you began teaching at G.I.T. [Guitar Institute of Technology]. How would you compare your experience at Berklee with the set-up at G.I.T.?
AM: It's completely different. In Berklee you hear lots of jazz; they have a focus on jazz. That's a generalization but I think that there is some truth to it. At G.I.T. you hear lots of blues, lots of shred, and real shredders from hell sometimes!
AAJ: How much do you yourself practice?
AM: I wish more. It depends, sometimes I'm in a phase where I think I suck so badly I should practice way, way, way more and I find the discipline and practice. But sometimes there are so many other things to be taken care of so maybe then I just practice an hour a day if I'm lucky. Sometimes I don't practice.
AAJ: How do you fit teaching around touring?
AM: I teach two days a week, but in case I have a tour going on I will sub it out.
AAJ: Do you have much time to listen to other people's music?
AM: I do listen to other people's music. There were some key albums that I listened to that really, really grabbed me, and I'm looking for new stuff that also grabs me. Unfortunately, the more you get into music the harder it is to find something that captures you the same way it did when you were young.
AAJ: What records do you still listen to now that you used to listen to as a kid?
AM: Secrets (Intima Records, 1989) from Allan Holdsworth. It's such a great album. There are a couple of Holdsworth records that I still listen to. Secrets I've listened to, I don't know, a thousand times at least. It's such an interesting record. Zappa, I already mentioned before. Joe Pass, MeShell [Ndegeocello]...
AAJ: And what projects do you have coming up?
AM: In January I'm going to tour Japan with my trio [with Terry Bozzio and bassist Doug Lunn] I'm really looking forward to this because I have never been to Japan.
Last January Terry, Doug and I went to the studio and we just jammed for five hours. Right now I'm editing this material and this will be the next trio album. I'm also working on another album where I apply the "composing-around approach like I did with Terry to different drummers.
The trio record should be done maybe before summer and for the drum record, it just depends on what kind of material I get. If it's really hard stuff then it will take me longer.
Alex Machacek, [Sic] (Abstrac Logix, 2006)
Out Trio, Out Trio (Altitude Digital DVD, 2005)
Sumitra, Indian Girl (NGE 2004)
BPM, Delete and Roll (NGE 2001)
Next Generation, Next Generation (NGE 2001)
Alex Machacek, Featuring Ourselves (NGE 1999)
Skipping a BPM with Austria's Alexander Machacek (Interview, 2002)