Bells Into Machines, a band with Azalea City connections and an all-star lineup from both sides of the mixing console, hopes to satisfy industrial metal fans’ hunger for new material.
Forged in hellfire and technology, Bells Into Machines is celebrating the release of its debut effort, “Your Crime Scene.” This album pulls inspiration from industrial metal’s glory days and infuses it with a fresh breath of impeccable modern production elements.
Considering the band’s lineup, Bells Into Machines couldn’t help but create an industrial metal masterpiece such as this. Mobile-based engineer/producer Brian Diemar, Grammy-winning producer/engineer Toby Wright (Metallica, Korn, Primus) and remix master Lee Popa (White Zombie, KMFDM) stepped from behind the mixing board to join iconic industrial musicians Paul Barker (Ministry, Puscifer) and Chris Connelly (Ministry, Pigface) in the studio for this album.
Lagniappe sat down with Diemar and Wright to discuss the band and the intricate process of creating this debut.
STEPHEN CENTANNI: Where did the name Bells Into Machines come from?
BRIAN DIEMAR: Chris came up with that. It relates to the fact that Stalin had all the church bells removed and melted down for ammunition and machinery in the Soviet Union.
CENTANNI: How did the core members of the group come together?
TOBY WRIGHT: Well, Brian and I have been friends since the ‘90s. We both lived in L.A. and got to be good friends there. When we moved to our respective homes now, we kept in touch and decided we were both bored with modern music, and decided to pass tracks back and forth to each other. Then, Brian reached out to Paul to play some bass, and Lee also got involved at that point. Then, when we needed vocals, Brian and Paul called upon Chris to lend us a hand.
DIEMAR: We all respected each other as musicians as well, and decided to have fun and try to do some cool music together. I don’t use the word “genius” often, but I happen to be in a band with geniuses!
Paul is a musical genius and responsible for most of the Ministry sound and music. Chris is a lyrical genius, and has an amazing set of pipes with a serious knack for melody. Lee has an amazing ear. He’s a killer guitar player and is probably one of the best, if not the best, live sound guy ever. Toby is one of the best producers in the business. He has an ear like no other and has produced and/or mixed some of the best records and artists. I am not a Korn fan, but “Follow the Leader” is their best-sounding record, in my honest opinion, because of Toby.
CENTANNI: You claim both Nashville and Mobile. Why?
DIEMAR: Toby moved to Nashville from L.A., and I moved here. We work out of both places. I really want to showcase Mobile as an amazing place for music.
WRIGHT: I guess we could also claim Portland (Oregon) and Chicago. I live in Nashville, Brian in Mobile, Paul and Lee in Portland and Chris in Chicago. Maybe we should just say we are from the USA.
CENTANNI: With all of you living in different places, how did you lay down tracks for this album?
WRIGHT: The songs and tracks were just passed around. Someone would start a basic track, then send to another to feel out and add their flavor, and then on to the next and so on. It was very interesting, because I would always get them last. I’d confer with the others about the arrangement. Then, after everyone put their magic on it, I would sit down and figure out all the parts and how they went together and then mix them.
CENTANNI: What’s it been like getting from behind the console and working on the performance side of things?
WRIGHT: It’s been awesome! I always love to play, and any time I can, I do. The interesting thing about playing instead of producing is that I seem to relate better to my artists when I go back to producing, meaning I can understand the pressure to perform when the red light is on. Essentially, it makes me respect the player even more.
DIEMAR: I have been stuck in a studio producing and doing music for film and TV, for many, many years. I miss playing out, and I miss playing with my mates. I have a renewed itch to go out and perform again. Hopefully we will do some festivals and one-offs this coming year.
CENTANNI: What was the biggest challenge of creating this album?
DIEMAR: The biggest challenge was trying to figure out the best way to release our material. The business has changed so much. We used to rely on a label for everything. Now it is DIY. We are fortunate enough to have a great friend named Daniel Heerdmann. He is putting our stuff out on our FFF Entertainment through his own 2808-MGMT and Rough Trade. He’s a great guy and amazingly forward thinking in today’s music marketplace.
CENTANNI: Since the beginning, true industrial has remained in the underground and maintained a very dedicated cult following that is still growing. What do you think it is?
DIEMAR: It has always been a very close-knit and loyal group of people. When they love something, they stick with it throughout the years. It is not a phase they grow out of.
WRIGHT: I think that any harder-edge music that isn’t mainstream is rebellion! We all have the rebel within.
CENTANNI: What’s your favorite song on the album and why?
DIEMAR: I like “Your Crime Scene — My Career” and the “Blood on the Bayou” mix of it. I am a huge Delta blues fan and play it on guitar, at home, almost every night. I wanted to fuse Delta blues with what we do. I also really like “Missions.” It is far from what some would expect from us, but it still fits. It is very melodic and Chris’ vocal and lyrics are fantastic. Our friend Kevin Post from Blake Shelton’s band plays slide and banjo on it.
WRIGHT: My fave has got to be “Sweet Life.” I just love the dynamics and the trip the song takes you on.
CENTANNI: When can we expect a Mobile show?
DIEMAR: I would love to play here at some point. Not sure where we would play.
CENTANNI: What’s the next step for Bells?
WRIGHT: Make more music. The full record, with new tracks and remixes, will be out in March. Then, hopefully, we’ll get a few shows in, then, of course, make more music.