OPUS OF A MACHINE: Trials of the Mind

Opus of a Machine

Australian progressive/alternative rock outfit, Opus of a Machine, released their debut album titled “Simulacra” in November 2014. Prog Sphere talked with guitarist and songwriter Zac Greensill about what the album represents and his future plans with the band.

How long was “Simulacra” in the making? Describe the journey this album represents.

The making of “Simulacra“, including writing, recording and mixing was over the course of about 4 years. Around half the tracks including Crack in the Soul and The Feeding were written well before the project developed into a band. The album is really many different snapshots of where I and Mitchell (Legg, vocalist/guitarist) were at, musically and mentally over those 4 years. Writing over that long and in many different contexts allowed us to be as exploratory as possible without any real focus of cohesion, which is what makes “Simulacra” so special in my eyes. It’s a diverse group of tracks and touch upon many different concepts.

Tell me about the themes the album captures.

I wanted to create something as diverse and varied as possible with “Simulacra“. Because it was written over a few years I was absorbing a wide range of influences then. The album is heavy, ambient and experimental, but I still wanted to keep it accessible; I’m a sucker for a big punchy chorus. It’s a loose concept album based around the trials of the mind; anger, love, abuse and enlightenment. Conceptually it’s an inward exploration of the illusion of the self.

Describe the creative process behind the album, and the process behind the propulsive, mercurial title track.

The title track was one of the last tracks to be written for the album. I wanted to create something relatively more simple and straightforward than previous tracks. I played around quite a bit with synthesisers and different elements outside of a traditional rock because I wanted something super punchy and modern. Simulacra is the plural of a simulacrum, which is a replication of something that has no link too the original. I thought that idea was a very poetic interpretation of first world society and reflective of the identity of consciousness.

Opus of a Machine - SimulacraDelve deeper into what “Tuatara” is communicating.

Tuatara is the final track on the album and is the conclusion to the ark of the album concept. It’s about the shattering of reality brought on by the psychedelic drug, DMT or dimethyltryptamine. In the song, the protagonist of the album concept takes this drug and has their perception of reality turned upside down allowing them to see not only their own faults but the inherent faults in human understanding. Through this experience, their past is laid out in front of them and they’re forced to face the true reality of being. It features a sample of philosopher, Terence McKenna who was out-spoken about his use and advocacy of psychedelic drugs.

It’s been almost three months since “Simulacra” was released. Are you satisfied with its reception?

We’ve been blown away by the reception it’s received. To know that people all across the globe are able to hear and appreciate something I’ve poured my heart and sole into for the last 4 years has been amazing.

Which bands or artist influenced your work for the album?

Too many! My personal influences that will always shine through in my writing and production are Tool, Opeth and Radiohead but I drew a huge amount of influence from artists such as Devin Townsend, Tesseract, Karnivool, Meshuggah, Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan and Porcupine Tree.

Tell me about the complexities of creating this album.

Musically complexities? Not so many. I’ve found that whatever flows right and makes sense compositionally and thematically is far more important than complexity. Production? It was a big step to totally self produce something, especially considering I was learning so much as I was writing and recording, but I had a lot of aid from the guys in the band and from people outside of the band giving me tips on mixing/engineering. It was no doubt one of the biggest learning experiences of my life!

What types of change do you feel “Simulacra” can initiate?

For the world? Probably not so much. But for us, it’s a chance for Opus of a Machine to enter into the music world with a full length album that shows people from the start that this is who we are. I’ve never been one for half measures I guess so it was all or nothing for us.

What kind of gear do you use for recording your music?

For guitars on the album, I used the Axe FX II almost exclusively bar a few takes and sounds here and there. As far as recording gear, the studio I had access to had everything from Neve, API, SSL and Universal Audio pre-amps and compressors along with a huge range of mics. I could write you a novel with what we used for what song, but I don’t think anyone would have time to read that!

Opus of a Machine

Opus of a Machine (photo: Calem Buckby photography)

What is your view on technology in music?

All for it. If it’s used in a tasteful way and necessary for your artistic vision, then go for it.

What is your first musical memory?

Hmmm… I think it was when I was about 10 years old. My brother bought me a walkman and recorded System of a Down‘s “Toxicity” onto a cassette tape. For about a year it was the only tape I ever had, so I basically listened to that exclusively in that time. It was what inspired me to pick up guitar and be in a band.

Are there any modern progressive bands that you listen to?

There are a few that I really enjoy like Skyharbour, Voyager, Tesseract, Ne Obliviscaris, Closure in Moscow and Anathema.

What are your plans for the future?

Looking into touring later in the year in support of the album and then probably jump into writing again. We’ve got a few ideas that we’re throwing around, but I’m excited to get out on the road and show people this album!

Opus of a Machine’s “Simulacra” is out now, get it from Bandcamp. Follow the band on Facebook.

Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.

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