The year is almost over, but our Swedish/Finnish friends from MACHINAE SUPREMACY have graced us with an early Christmas present that fans are already losing their shit over – the phenomenal followup to “Phantom Shadow“ (2014): “Into the Night World“ (2016). The album has undergone a fair bit of promotion, though it sometimes feels as though the interviewers don’t know much about the band or the MASU universe. With that in mind, we thought we’d throw a few questions into the mix that hopefully weren’t asked by every other interviewer out there.
First of all, you guys thought last September that this album would be the direct sequel to “Phantom Shadow,” but that’s not the case – can you explain then how “ITNW” relates to “Phantom Shadow”/the MASU universe?
It is a sequel, but not a direct one. “Into The Night World” is centered around Sara, the one surviving member of The Dominion Trinity (the bad guys from “Phantom Shadow”). 20 years have passed since Jovi/Hubnester stepped into the God Machine (in “Hubnester Rising”), but Sara has no memory of the events that transpired.
For those who like making theories, can you say which familiar character(s) from the MASU universe definitely appear on the album?
I’ll just say that Sara is there, obviously, and if not Hubnester directly then his echo in a way, in the form of someone else’s dreamed memory reaching out to him from the past. There might also be another famous MACHINAE SUPREMACY character somewhere to be found within these songs… 😉
Can you explain the title of “Twe27ySeven” and why it is written that way?
Not really sure to be honest. It seemed like a good idea at the time. The number itself is based on the fact that it’s 10 years since we released “Redeemer” (and the song “Seventeen”).
“Last March of the Undead” sounds a lot more specific than its predecessors – why does it have a narrator as opposed to a more open concept like the older songs?
This final March is written to both fit the story we’re telling here, as well as the main narrative that’s been the theme of the “March” songs. It’s about the end of the world through metaphor, but as suggested by fans in the past, the last one should aim to — in true MACHINAE SUPREMACY fashion — reclaim what has been lost in some way. In the 5th March, “The Last March of the Undead,” the world may be ending, but we are not alone to watch it burn.
Musically, this is a really fascinating and diverse album. It sounds as though you’ve experimented with your sound a lot in songs like “Twe27ySeven” and “Dream Sequence.” It feels a bit like a throwback and a step forward at the same time. Was this intentional, or how did the album develop into this sound?
While creating, you follow the songs to where they want to go. And, of course, to where the story you’re trying to tell needs to be. I feel like we didn’t set out to experiment as much with styles as with dynamics, so to achieve a wide range of intensity and drama, because the music is what adds meaning to the words. The music adds weight and depth, and if the music doesn’t fit, the story doesn’t work.
Ingeborg Ekeland is present in three songs again on this album – will we be hearing more from her in the future? Do you think we’ll ever see her in a live show (at least in the Nordics)?
I definitely hope so. She is supremely talented, and creative. I really hope she will want to keep contributing to our music. Regarding live shows I really can’t say, but we have had both of our previously featured female vocalists on stage with us at one time or another.
Some of your old-school fans might get upset that SID isn’t present in every song, though I personally don’t think the album suffers in any way for the lack of it. How would you address this criticism? What does the SID element mean to you these days and how/why do you use it?
I would say that’s the way it has always been. One of our most popular songs ever, “Through the Looking Glass,” has no SID at all. Don’t get me wrong, we love the old-school video game sounds, those kinds of melodies and all things 8- and 16-bit; it gives us ideas and inspires us, and we always seem to be able to create something cool with that. But there are times when adding those kinds of elements just do not work in a song. Those are the moments when adding them would be “gimmicky.” Like, adding them for no other purpose than to have them. So, again, we go where the music wants to be. Most of the time, though, it wants some serious SID going on up in there.
Have you had a chance to lay any groundwork for a European tour next year yet, or have you just been focused on the album and the upcoming US tour?
We’re trying to figure out when to do it. We can’t do a long one just after the USA because Nicky’s having a kid and we all got life stuff that needs tending. We do want to get back to Europe though, because our previous tour was cut short due to the bus accident and all that.
This is your first official American tour – how and why is this officially happening now?
We never had a booker there before. We don’t know how to hook that stuff up ourselves, but now we’re doing it because of the epic URIZEN guys. They set this tour up for us, together with Continental Concerts. It’s been 1.5 years since we saw them last, and we’re really looking forward to seeing their side of the pond.
Of course, it’s the end of 2016, so what are the best games you (guys) have played this year?
You mean besides playing Lego Star Wars with Pauliina? We really loved Inside. And DOOM. And Ori and the Blind Forest. Not to mention Rise of the Tomb Raider (which only became available on PS4 this fall). Tomi keeps rocking StarCraft, but he did give Overwatch a brief try. Oh, and I had to re-play Alien Isolation again because it’s just so incredibly awesome.
Finally, gotta give an honorary mention to the Square Enix “Go” games: Lara Croft Go, Hitman Go, and Deus Ex Go. Just super fun and really addictive puzzle games.
Interview by Bear Wiseman
Interview Phantom Elite – “It’s always good to share that feeling that none of us is alone in hard times”