It’s easy to see that Machines Dream listened to groups like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Marillion, King Crimson and Tool. You can hear these influences in their work, but that’s just the starting point for the band.
The goal of Machines Dream is to compose new music, experiment with new sounds and to write meaningful songs that are far more than just tributes to the Prog Rock bands of yesteryear.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s go back a couple of years.
“It wasn’t supposed to be a band!” is the oft-repeated refrain of vocalist/bass guitarist Craig West.
He bought his first bass guitar when he was just 16, but it took a couple of decades before he realized that – if you try and write music you think other people will like – you’re just chasing the proverbial carrot at the end of the stick.
He realized that you’ve got to do what you love or it’s an insincere waste of time.
Keyboardist Brian Holmes was in a metal band that were “on hiatus” and his keyboards were collecting dust.
In 2006 Craig and Brian worked together helping out British progressive rock band IT with some Canadian dates as well as playing on the Departure album and DVD.
Both musicians enjoyed the experience and decided they wanted to keep working together.
Ken Coulter played the drums every day and rehearsed relentlessly. He did so not because he was in a group, but because he simply loved to play.
The set of circumstances that brought the three together went something like this:
Craig had a gig booked at a local bar with a group that had just broken up.
In order to keep the commitment, he called up Brian and guitarist Shayne Wigglesworth to ask if they would play this one show.
Both of them readily agreed, although the makeshift non-group had no drummer and no material!
Craig had previously met Ken through a mutual acquaintance and knew he played the drums. Although Craig had never actually heard Ken play, he seemed like the kind of guy who knew what he was doing, which – fortunately – turned out to be the case.
The non-band played a strange assortment of cover songs by artists including Roxy Music, Pink Floyd, David Bowie and Peter Murphy.
Having enjoyed the experience, the quartet concluded that they should keep playing together, but decided they would rather just free-jam than learn other people’s music.
It still wasn’t supposed to be a band though. It was just a group of friends getting together a few times a week and making some noise for fun.
They added Marco Pierucci on bass guitar, which freed up Craig to play guitar and concentrate on singing.
Having unburdened themselves of any expectations, incoherent jams became recognizable jams and – eventually – songs, whilst a distinct style was beginning to emerge.
Then came a series of changes.
Marco exited and Craig switched back to the bass guitar.
They began recording, mostly because Craig had a home studio, but also because they felt they had created a batch of songs worth documenting.
Shayne exited next and was replaced midway through recording by Keith Conway, a virtuoso whose own group were recording a live album with Craig engineering.
The name Machines Dream was adopted from an unreleased song written by singer/songwriter and friend Chris Belsito.
Craig had played lead guitar for him on and off for a decade and had heard the demo of the song Machines Dream, which Chris had not planned on recording.
(For the record, the demo is now in Craig’s custody and has been transferred from four track tape to hard drive for posterity.)
The band’s self-titled first album was released in March 2012 and is a collection of songs touching on themes such as mental illness, alienation, the importance of communication and the desire to find a place in the world that is safe.
In 2013 Keith exited leaving Craig, Brian and Ken to begin working on new songs in the studio.
Craig played guitar, bass and lead vocals, Brian played keyboards and bass, and Ken drummed. As the recording progressed, the group decided to add not one, but two new members to help finish the album and fill out the band for any live opportunities.
Rob Coleman worked in the same fluorescent-lit government office building as Ken. The two began jamming with Brian, who suggested Rob might be a good fit for Machines Dream.
Meanwhile, Craig had been working in the studio with Jake Rendell, the session player who sang all the background vocals and harmonies for the first Machines Dream album.
Jake was recording the backing vocals for the second Machines Dream album when Craig asked him if he would like to join the band.
A skilled multi-instrumentalist, Jake also adds an extra set of hands for guitar, bass, mandolin, triangle or whatever is called for at a particular moment.
Suddenly – it was a band!