Deep Machine are a highly entertaining live band, having formed back in 1979, they reactivated themselves about 5 years ago. Since then, these London NWOBHM troopers have had early recordings re-released, had a new EP release, but it has taken till recently to get out their first full length album. I got the opportunity to speak to Bob Hooker, guitarist and founding member in respect to their debut album ‘Rise of the Machine’, which is out now on the ever reliable High Roller Records.
Hi Bob, hope all is well. We met briefly at Brofest last year via a mutual friend, my memory was hazy, yours was probably better!
BH: Yeah all’s good at the moment, the band is taking a short break at the moment to have some catch up time with family and friends….then back to work as usual! Good to meet you at Brofest anyway!
AN: ‘Rise of the Machines’ is a welcomed debut; does it make you happy that you finally have your debut release out following a long career thus far?
BH: Yes….very happy indeed ‘ Rise Of The Machine’ was a long-awaited album for me personally….I didn’t think I would ever see it happen after all this time, but it has and I’m very proud of it!
AN: How did you approach the song writing process? Were there ideas that were floating around for a while, or were the songs written specifically for this release?
BH: Well as you will probably know….most of the songs are ‘old’ songs from way back that always should have been released….we didn’t want those songs lost forever, so we decided to breathe new life into them by changing a few things from how we originally played them, while retaining the core of the song. The Wizard, Iron Cross, Black Priestess and The Gladiator being good examples of this. New songs written specifically for this release were The Gathering, Celebrophile and also Whispers In The Black which also appeared on our previously released EP of the same title with High Roller Records…a song we always intended to appear on the album as well.
AN: Where did you record the album?
BH: Highfield Studios UK/ DeeRal Studios UK/ The White Rooms Studios UK.
AN: Did you record the album digitally with a vinyl issue of the album in mind?
BH: Yes indeed, we recorded the album digitally, with the vinyl issue in mind.
AN: Is there a concept running through the release lyrically?
BH: Not a concept as such, most of the songs/lyrics are written by myself, with Lenny and Nick adding touches to the later stuff, particularly Celebrophile which I didn’t have a hand in writing at all. My lyrics will always be based around Witchcraft, The Devil, Sword and Sorcery-type stuff.
AN: Who did the artwork?
BH: Alex von Weiding
AN: Does Lenny take or previously taken vocal lessons? His range is amazing with so much power?
BH: No, Lenny was originally a Bass player with more bands notable like Gangland from the 90’s era…in later years he always wanted to sing lead vocals in favour of the Bass. We struggled to find a suitable singer and Lenny asked us to give him a shot. He came over to the studios and we were surprised at his vocal range, so we invited him to join the band.
AN: Is there any particular track that stands out or is a special favourite for yourself or the rest of the band?
BH: I have many favourites on the album, particularly The Gathering, Iron Cross and Black Priestess, but hard to choose really as I love them all.
AN: Do you still draw inspiration from your original sources, or are there current artists that you feel are an influence in Deep Machine’s music in 2014?
BH: I have always drawn most of my inspiration from my favourite Metal band of all time Judas Priest. Just lately I’m really into bands like Accept, and Vicious Rumors, and I hope their influence will take my/our song-writing into a new area….much heavier, but still retaining the NWOBHM vibe.
AN: You have had a few damn good live shows over recent times, are there any that stood out for you?
BH: Yes there were many….I have loved playing ALL the shows….if I had to choose special gigs for me would be both Negasonic gigs in Aalst Belgium, Keep It True festival Germany, Brofest Newcastle UK, Metalwave UK, The Gathering UK, The Dome UK….also The Standard UK as support to our great friends Tokyo Blade…..
AN: How was Keep It True? What did you make of the festival? There are a lot of patches on jackets aren’t there!
BH: Keep It True was a totally amazing experience for us in every way….we loved playing the show, the Metal fans there were amazing and gave us a great reception, plus it was great to meet them after our show, everyone was so warm and friendly to us. Hospitality as always when we visit Europe was first-class….the whole festival was organized really professionally, and we were honoured to be a part of it.
AN: Has the audience response changed, if at all, from now to your early days?
BH: We always get a very warm response wherever we play….I think particularly in the UK the crowds are smaller than the ones we were used to playing to back in the day. The Ruskin Arms London as an example where we used to ram the place wall-to-wall….we quite literally used to have to pushed through all the people to get onstage….they were great time. That said, we still have a loyal following of great friends who are always there to support us wherever we play, plus it’s nice to see the younger generation of Metal fans who come along and actually know all our songs/lyrics and sing along…awesome!
AN: What do you make of the resurgence of recent times of the NWOBHM movement?
BH: Well I think it’s a great thing, when you think about it, ALL the bands that have re-surfaced from the NWOBHM movement, (along with the bigger ‘classic’ bands like ‘Purple, Sabbath, Priest, Maiden etc) laid the foundations for the more modern genres of Metal that’s around today. I think it’s great that the Metal fans still appreciate it and keep it alive.
AN: Are you comfortable with the NWOBHM tag that’s often associated with yourselves and other bands? Do you find this a constraint?
BH: Totally comfortable with the NWOBHM tag along with all the other great bands from that era. We are proud to have played a part in it!
AN: Do you have any plans to go out on a full tour to support the release?
BH: Not as such, but we are confident the release of the album will generate more interest in the band and the quality gigs will now follow. As well as the Uk, we are particularly interested in playing European gigs….some come on all you promoters out there, get in touch with us and perhaps we can string together a tour….we just love getting out there among the Metal fans!
AN: What is the best quote you have seen about Deep Machine?
BH: Hmmmm a tough one to answer….there have been many!!!!
AN: Your relationship with High Roller is rather successful, are there plans for future releases, or are you wanting to concentrate on promoting ‘Rise of the Machine’ first?
BH: After our short break, we will be concentrating on writing some new material (two new songs already written, plus several nearly complete!) We would love to continue working with High Roller Records and would like to put together maybe another EP or of course and album with them….watch this space!
Thanks so much for your time, I will catch you again no doubt at some live show. In the meantime, congratulations on the album and all the best for the future.
Thanks Paul, a pleasure to talk with you.
Interviewed by Paul Maddison