No Machine is the musical incarnation of Al and Emil Rivers. The Athens born twin brothers have been writing and playing music together since the age of 13. Taking journeys through ska, progressive rock and punk, the classically trained musicians have developed their own unique brand of psychedelic pop. Several band names and personnel changes down the line, they have found their ideal line-up and are now ready to bring No Machine to the world. Hold on tight…
The tiger didn’t always show up. But when Al and Emil Rivers plugged in their gear, fired up the amps and raised a toast to the toaster, it usually didn’t take long before he appeared in the corner of the room. The guitars and harmony soared and the animal watched the brothers play long into the night. The stars and the stripes.
The Rivers boys never minded a man-eater in their studio. Back in Greece, they’d heard plenty about wild animals, listened to nature and created all their melodies from scratch. In their next home, in Lisbon, Portugal, they experienced new wild adventures in music but they never saw a tiger. Maybe it was the ska music and then the progressive rock they were playing. Maybe tigers just didn’t get that stuff.
It took a trip to England before the big cat showed. On the road, touring 15 dates in three weeks, the twins saw some strange things. Mostly, they were days of late smokes, live music and odd dreams. Hundreds of miles from London, a few fights and not much sleep later, life was starting to get interesting.
And that’s when the tiger came around. Al and Emil didn’t move when he first turned up in Newcastle. They just played on and the crowd were too busy dancing to notice. But out of the dark, the brothers saw two bright yellow eyes.
The tiger took them back to their childhood, to days of classical piano and first guitars. Just as old music brings back memories, the animal took them to their beginnings. Their journey from Athens to London, travelling light and never with a real place to call home. And the tiger kept on coming. It showed up in their hotel rooms, in the studio, in their dreams. It’s still coming to this day.
Don’t believe me? That’s all right. After all, everyone has their own concept of fantasy and reality. And that’s what No Machine is all about. It’s a story about being true to yourself. A story about a tiger and the twins.
No Machine is the musical incarnation of Al and Emil Rivers. Pioneering a new blend of psychedelic pop with sumptuous orchestrations, the classically trained twins are about to take the UK music scene by storm.
Born in Greece, raised in Portugal and speaking English as a mother tongue, the brothers are a truly multinational outfit. “It’s pretty hard to say where home is,” says lead singer Al. “We’re outsiders wherever we go.”
But for now, London is their base and it’s also where they’ve been recording tracks. With the finishing touches currently being made at Mayfair Studios (Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’, Blur’s 1997 album, ‘Blur’), fans are already anticipating the release of their first proper studio album.
What can we expect? “We’re really excited with the results,” says Al. “There’s lots of great brass and orchestration in there. Beck’s dad (David Campbell), who did the last Metallica album, is also doing the string arrangements for us.”
Just 25, the prodigiously talented twins have been writing and playing music together for more than half of their lives. But it’s not always been an easy road.
Musically, the boys’ sound shifted from ska to punk and even progressive rock before they found their own vibe. They have also chopped and changed their personnel. A gruelling 2007 tour schedule, which saw them hit 15 venues in three weeks twice, pushed the band to their physical limits. But Al and Emil emerged stronger for the experience – and can’t wait to get back on the road.
How did it all start? There was never really a time without music for the Rivers brothers. Born in Athens, they moved to Lisbon as children, where they were sent to a international british school. “We were the alternative crowd,” says Al. “It was a pretty uptight place.”
But that didn’t stop them writing and performing songs. By the time they left school, the brothers had performed hundreds of gigs and were playing top venues across the Portuguese capital. But for a while, it looked like their musical careers would take a classical turn. Both applied for the Lisbon Conservatory to study piano and guitar respectively.
Al, who studied classical guitar there for two years before dropping out, has no regrets and says the experience has helped them to hone their sound. “Classical music opens alot of doors,” he notes. “We’re definitely more than just a three chord band.”
As for Emil, who first began playing piano on a Casio keyboard, there was never any doubt about becoming a musician. “If I don’t listen to music I get depressed,” he explains. “I need to listen to at least three hours of music a day. It sets the tone to my life.”
After school, came a new country and new audiences. The twins attended university in England, where they started a new band and wound up ditching lectures for gigs. Just one more step on the road towards No Machine.
So why No Machine? The original idea behind the name was that there is nothing to get in the way of the music. The sound is 100 per cent real and all about making a human connection. “In most music nowadays the drums are programmed,” explains Emil. “But that loses a lot of feeling. It sounds nice at first but after a few listens it doesn’t stick. It doesn’t stir your emotions as much as real musicians do.”
Making that emotional connection is the concept behind the boys’ new album. It promises to be a stirring affair, as exemplified by their edgy first single, Toast the Toaster. “The song is about losing yourself for a bit,” says Al intriguingly.
As for the future, there are already dozens more tracks just waiting to be recorded. But for now, the twins just want to get back on tour. And unlike other pop siblings, famous for high profile quibbling and spats, these two guys are happy to let their music do all the talking. “Sure we get pissed off at each other sometimes,” says Al, “but we’re really positive when we make our music. We just seem to think along the same lines.”
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