A little hyperbole to start this off: the fact that Viva Machine isn’t a household name is one of the great injustices in recent music history. The Welsh rockers had it all. Great riffs, smart lyrics, soaring vocal harmonies and extremely interesting song structures. Imagine Biffy Clyro doing their best Beach Boys impression with Josh Homme noodling away in the background. I’m the proud owner of an EP and album – but even prouder of supporting them in Exeter back in 2008.
Because you know what? Time for an extremely uncool admission. I’ve seen a vast number of the so-called best live bands, and Viva Machine were better live than any of them. The Muse live experience can go suck an egg. I’d rather hear “Death Star Trucker” live than “Supermassive Black Hole”.
I fell in love with them because of the live sound, actually – at a packed Cavern Club on a Saturday night. I had heard from a friend that they were great, and they blew the audience away with an air of professionalism that was rare on those nights; most of the acts were essentially there as a warm-up for the resident DJ. All of us were excited to hear what a full-length album had to offer.
We had to wait a while, mind – until 2009, actually – but by god it was great. From the punchy, sci-fi opener “Robot Bodyrox”, to the sprawling epics of “Futuristic Dracula” and “Mental State”, the self-titled album is, surprisingly for a debut effort, a filler-less, lean, mean, rocking machine. Dirty synth, beefy guitars, and a perfect level of quirk without feeling pretentious. I happily have “Viva Machine” in my list of favourite albums of all time.
So what happened? Well, Viva Machine were a young band, and apparently university studies took over, with the band going on hiatus in September of 2009, only a couple of months after the release of their album. A shame – an immensely talented band that I would have loved to have heard more of.
So, there’s Viva Machine. Go give them a listen, and if anyone knows where they guys are now, let them know that there’s still one person carrying a torch for ‘em.