Weird, What Is That?

It's spacey local rockers the Secret Machines, opening their new album cycle by making a movie

"There's ghost towns and hot springs and weird art installations and strange unexplained lights," says Brandon fondly. He's referring to the area in and around Marfa, Texas, where the band recently shot a full-length film with the visually complementary avant-garde director Charles de Meaux—ringleader behind the Paris-based production company Anna Sanders Films. Brandon gives the backstory: "Every October there's a big party there held by this art group, the Chanati Foundation. We played there in 2003 and 2004 and the people we performed for were so varied: artists, ranchers, children, border-town people, just the most diverse and interesting audience we'd ever experienced—it was totally positive and exciting. So we had the idea to try and capture that feeling and talk about what is really going on there."

"One of the initial attractions was Donald Judd's legacy," says Josh. Judd's the minimalist sculptor that helped launch Marfa's art mecca. "When we got there," Josh elaborates, "we realized, the attraction's not him, there's something in the air, in the ground, something in this part of the world." All three Secret Machines excitedly start chiming in. Brandon: "There's a mystical-like quality, a feeling of something much bigger than humanity." Ben: "There's this huge mountain there that's almost completely made of iron and causes a lot of electrical interferences. The magnetics are really crazy and have a peculiar effect on the plants and the animals— and our equipment. We wrote and recorded a whole bunch of new music while we were there and all of our shit kept breaking."

The totally ambitious (remember, they're only on album number two) flick—initially self-financed, until Warner Bros. grabbed the reins early on—should premiere this summer and focuses on the band developing new tunes and hanging around and interviewing illustrious locals. "This project was really good for us since we were starting a new 'album cycle' as they call it in the biz, you know, in 'showbiz,' " says Ben, cracking the other guys up. "With the business side of things there's always a struggle to keep it yours, to remember why you're doing it in the first place."

Floating through the spacious outer limits
photo: Warner Bros. Records
Floating through the spacious outer limits

"Doing what we did in Marfa was like going back to the beginnings of the band when we were trying to create something out of nothing," Brandon summarizes. "We have all of the ingredients, all the ambition, all the tools—let's see what we can do. That was the best thing to come of this."

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