April 04, 2009
When it comes to gritty 70’s infused rock and roll, few do it better than Toronto’s own Machetes. Between the panting, heavy guitars, smart lyrics and the way they catapult themselves around the stage, the fierce female four-piece are gearing up for a year of world – or at least European – touring.
“We’re going to be recording demos at our manager’s place, Roger O’Donnell (the Cure), and he lives in the country so it’s really nice. Then we’ll probably shop around a bit and see who wants to work with us and what deals we can get,” guitarist Alana Devee said after an unofficial CMW performance at Playdead Mansion in March.
One of the things that makes Machetes stand out is the obvious fact that they’re all girls. As much as they hate the constant attention on the trivial part of who they are, part of the reason it gets mentioned so frequently is because of the caliber of their talent. While the numbers of females in bands and all-female bands is beginning to increase, there is still this unfortunate social code that all-girl bands aren’t that good.
This is where Machetes defies taboos – between the lace on their clothes and the black leather in their lyrics, there is a deeper kind of musical chemistry here. Their songs are atypical in content and structure and it is this very freshness and rawness that pushes them forward. The attention to detail they put into their art from the flow to the emotion proves they’re each musically and socially intelligent. While they defy many conventions, they manage to stay focused. They even spice up their own music by incorporating drummer Lexy Mack’s vocal training into their songs, just one of many elements that makes them easy to listen to and fun to watch.
“[Vocalist] Jen [Simpson]’s voice is so different from Lexy’s voice and they compliment. Many bands sing together and the voices sound similar, but when they sing it’s so different that it’s so complimentary,” Devee said.
“I grew up singing, that is my musical background. I started when I was seven and stopped when I was 18 when I moved to Toronto. Then I decided to play drums,” Mack said. “I can sing so it’s a shame to not. I do back-ups too and I think its important for other members of the band to do backups, it creates a fuller sound and compliments the music more.”
In addition to the way they create their songs, it is also important to mention the love and time they put into the aesthetics of Too Dirty To Be A Rat. The first 100 were handmade by Machetes themselves, who had a lovely little EP art party before its release.
“I screen-printed them and Jen made the inside for them and then we got all together to package it and it took hours. We had to go out at night at like 11 p.m. and try to find glue sticks. It was horrible,” Devee said.
May 2nd will be their final Toronto date before they leave on tour. They’ll be hosting an all-day European-fundraiser at Rolly’s Garage – complete with a barbeque, acoustic open mic and a performance by yours truly. Check these ladies out before they fall in love with Europe, because as Devee said, “it’s nice to see people get energetic and excited about rock and roll again.”
For more info on Machetes and to listen to tracks like “Ace” and “Fine Lines” visit www.myspace.com/machetesband.