By Ross Jones
Queen Giza experiment with the sort of rich psychedelia that we find undeniably engaging and labyrinthine in composition. Their first full-length, the mystical ‘Machine Master Demon Dream’, was informed by the desire to question and explore the human psyche through a science fiction form, and they do so with impressive results. We discuss in depth with the group their approach to such measures, their penchant for looking outside the box and what formed the thematic drive of the record.
CLUNK: Through ‘Machine Master Demon Dream’ you maintain layered and considered textures through your arrangements – was that intentional in terms of the thematics of the record or did that simply arrive undetermined when laying out the record?
QG: It was intentional, but developed very organically. We wanted MMDD to be ten steps ahead of our EP. We finished Flesh & Grease first, which acted as a roadmap for the rest of the writing, both texturally and thematically. Pink Floyd was a heavy influence during the writing process.
CLUNK: The tone and vibe you create is one of unease and a sense of something threatening in the midst of your writing, do you find sonic expression is as good a form of getting your point across as lyrical verse?
QG: Absolutely. Better. The instruments and melodies definitely came first for us, and that’s often what interests us most in the music we listen to. Again, having F&G to establish the plot right off the bat was big. There is little levity in an AI coming to terms with being a robot, so getting that dark uneasiness across musically came before anything lyrically. Lyrics just filled in gaps. Like Current Control intentionally evokes someone on a badass motorcycle tear, while the lyrics describe a robot embracing and tripping on power (both electrical and physical).
“We didn’t know what the final product would sound like until we had it. There were a couple of songs that began with a scratch guitar part and Tym would record drums over it (Machine Master), but the majority of the album happened with drums and then Eric’s brain”
CLUNK: The rhythms throughout the record are fantastically tight and seem to flow with ease, which when combined with your expressive guitar work really creates another form of anxiousness and disorientation. What is it about experimenting with creativity in this way that interests you?
QG: Thanks! Well, the way we record lends itself to that dissonance you’re describing. Tym would record drum parts, email them over to Eric, and Eric would loop the drum track until he found a melody that stuck, and then would build all other instruments on that. So we didn’t know what the final product would sound like until we had it. There were a couple of songs that began with a scratch guitar part and Tym would record drums over it (Machine Master), but the majority of the album happened with drums and then Eric’s brain.
CLUNK: How are you finding recasting the record into a live element? I can imagine that the music thrives under an even heavier template than what we hear on record?
QG: We played a couple of shows to celebrate the release, and it was interesting to figure out. First of all, we didn’t have our usual bass player, so we had to teach a new bass player all the new and a couple old tunes (and he did a great job!). And Eric had to handle singing and playing both rhythm and some of the lead parts. So the songs sounded close to the record, but not quite as intricate. We’d love to add a rhythm guitar player at some point, but it’s difficult to find people who are willing to give as much time as is necessary to learn a bunch of new songs on relatively short notice.
“We were planning on doing an EP at first, but songs kept coming and we realized that we would quickly have the material for a full length”
CLUNK: Across the record you mould pacey moments of adrenaline with much more meticulous, composed elements – take your approach to ‘Death Volts’ and ‘Machine Master’ for example. Do you find it interesting to play around with the components of what I suppose is deemed traditional structure?
QG: Most of the tunes have a pretty solid verse-chorus structure, just as a function of beginning blindly with drum tracks, but a few are definitely a bit looser and less predictable, like Machine Master, as you mentioned. We definitely like to toy with structure, and plan to do some more interesting things on the next album.
CLUNK: The title of the record is an amalgamation of two of the tracks, which reminded me of the cut-up style of prose that was made famous by Burroughs and Ginsberg in the 50s and 60s, was this intentional?
QG: The title of the album spurred from the concept once we figured out what the concept would be, which was actually a little bit into the recording process. Initially, we were going to record another EP, then decided to do a second side (Demon Dream) after getting a few songs down and after Eric had a series of bizarre Machine Master dreams. So the title describes the two halves of the narrative. Charles Beaumont was also a substantial influence on the writing, so perhaps a bit of 50’s and 60’s sci-fi writing was bleeding through.
CLUNK: Following on from my previous question, is there a deep concept behind the record? You consistently relate to the notion of control and an authoritative state throughout the record, is the study of that something that interests you?
QG: We’re describing it as a rock opera, and it thematically deals with those ideas: control, creation, self awareness, authority. The story is of an older man creating a humanoid robot in his image and implanting his own memories, basically out of self-absorption, boredom, boozing, etc.. The robot becoming aware of exactly what he is, embracing it, and ultimately replacing the old man (Machine Master side). The doctor then has his final (Demon) dream while dying, which is structured in the cycles of sleep but also the brain waves and bodily functions that are associated with those cycles.
We’re definitely interested in exploring topics through songs/albums. What’s more fun than making up a story? The idea of the not-to-distant future is fascinating in so many regards. Mixing feelings of familiarity with unknowns is where it sleeps. With that in mind, we’ve talked loosely about the next album revolving around the ocean, which is a cool and dark place.
CLUNK: ‘Machine Master Demon Dream’ is your first full-length release, how was it creating something of such length for the first time? Did you set out with the intention of making a full-length or did you find a creative burst that warranted such a release?
QG: Definitely the latter, a creative burst. We were planning on doing an EP at first, but songs kept coming and we realized that we would quickly have the material for a full length, and that it all worked cohesively in that form. And it was the sort of thing where we were like, why not make it a full length? It wasn’t like there were any deadlines to be met, or expectations of what we’d make next.
CLUNK: On your previous EP you worked with several producers, where as on your first full length here you kept it in-house, did you find it more productive to your work to work alone of fulfilling the complete sound of the record?
QG: Frankly, it was infinitely more productive. We could take as much time as we wanted recording tracks, and with Tym mixing the album, we could go through as many passes as we wanted without worrying about any sort of hourly charge, and get the songs to sound exactly how we wanted them to. With the EP, we felt as though there was a bit of disconnect between the producers we worked with and us in terms of our references and influences, and how the final product should sound, and we never really figured out a way to properly communicate that to them. Now that we’ve done it all on our own, we would probably be able to more effectively ask a producer for exactly what we want, but we’re hooked on doing things ourselves, so we’re going to stick with that for the time being (unless Chris Woodhouse decides that he wants to record us haha).
CLUNK: You worked with Etienne Puaux on the artwork for the record, and it’s a fantastic piece which I feel really suits the exuberant nature of your music and the many things going on within it. How did you and Etienne approach creating something that is almost an extra element of the music itself?
QG: There was a regular exchange going on. We loved his style, so gave him very loose guidelines of what we wanted, and shared our progress on the album a song at a time while he worked on the cover. So it was this cool back and forth, where our songs were inspiring his artwork, and his progressing artwork was inspiring our songs. It was probably the most fun and exciting part of the process. Can’t wait to do it again on the next one!
CLUNK: You are Brooklyn natives, a city which is always highlighted here across the pond as having something brewing at all times, no matter of style or genre. Is there a community you find yourselves in, and is there anyone we should be listening to alongside yourselves?
QG: You know, it actually wasn’t until very recently that we started finding the larger garage/psych rock community in Brooklyn/NYC. But now that we have, we’re realizing it’s a very cool and supportive community. There are lots of bands worth checking out. Acid Dad, Pink Mexico, IYEZ, Mad Doctors, Psychiatric Metaphors, Secret Nudist Friends, Thee Creeps, The Rizzos, Tide Bends, Super FM, Surfbort, Nancy, The Royal They, really could keep going on and on! King Pizza Records in Brooklyn puts out a lot of very cool up and coming garage and psych bands, definitely worth checking out.
We want to extend a massive thank you to the band for taking the time to answer our questions and urge you to check out their music, you can do so via soundcloud.