Empire Machines
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Empire Machines

Austin, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Rock Indie




"The Local Music Lookout: Foxmoor Express, Mantra Love and Empire Machines"

Empire Machines is a five piece indie-rock band based in Austin, Texas. Dark alternative rock riffs fleshed to life with mature lyrics and vocals cut and peel back back the longing layers of our primal natures to shed Animal Skin, which was released in July last year. “Wanted Way” is a heartfelt revelation about moving on from a potential romance that took too long to ripen and was passed on. Vocalist and guitarist Matt Blackwell’s vulnerable lyrics and anxiously delicate voice ask for and invite a lover’s honesty, “Lies what you gonna be/ What you gonna drop and see/ Call cause you don’t mind/ Think you might fall with me/”. Refreshing and realistic, he sings, “Think you might fall ‘WITH’ me” instead of a cheesy line depicting how he fell completely in love with her or she with him. Ex-lead guitarist Ryan Upchurch and Blackwell’s melancholic guitar harmonies sear sharp pained light through the grungy shade as Matt Reynold on drums and Trey McKinley on bass provide a minimal but solid rhythm section. The second half of the chorus reveals their untimely departure, “Hey, but you’re too late/ I’m going on my wanted way/ Doll have some more fun/ Have another drink on me.” Instead of immaturely expelling bad thoughts on her, he humbly suggests for her to take their separation easily and even have another drink on his count. They have a new single coming out in September, so stay tuned. - KTSW 89.9

"The 16 of ’16: Up and coming local bands of the new year"


Psychedelic indie pop gets a breath of fresh air with Empire Machines. Tight musical cohesion helps distorted vocals really get through to you, the listener, and you find yourself nodding your head and humming along to the especially catchy riffs. They’ve released two EPs in 2015, so it’ll be great to see what they do next year. Catch them at Glitter Tribe’s free week at the Empire Control Room & Garage. - On Vinyl Music

"Video Premiere: Empire Machines "The Plan""

They hail from BLURT’s favorite city, Austin: indie psych-rock outfit Empire Machines have a new three-song EP titled Animal Skin, self-released in July. And our debut of their new video for the single “The Plan” is guaranteed to get under your skin, dear readers. Check it out:

Empire Machines—described by one reviewer as “the Beatles doing Bloc Party”— debuted in 2011 with an eponymous EP. Core members singer/guitarist Matt Blackwell and bassist Trey McKinley initially began making music while rooming together and attending college classes. Over their first amateur years, the band experienced a few lineup changes before settling in with current members Matt Reynolds on drums and Bruce Smith Jr. on lead guitar and backup vocals.

Using a blend of indie-rock as their guide and psych-rock as their inspiration, Empire Machines began gigging heavily and has quickly become a staple in Austin’s ever-growing and thriving music scene. The group will be touring this fall—check the links below for concert dates. - BLURT Magazine

"Exclusive Premiere: Empire Machines , 'Animal Skin'"

It’s not easy to emerge from Austin, Texas; there is an endless list of bands — both brand-new and well-established — who call the city their home, and it seems to get bigger and bigger as each year passes.

So, when a group out of ATX grabs our attention, we stand up and take notice, and that’s exactly what happened when we first heard Empire Machines. Tomorrow (July 21), the indie psych-rock outfit will celebrate the release of their latest EP, Animal Skin, and Diffuser is beyond ecstatic to unveil the disc’s title-track a day early — take it for a spin in the audio player below.

“‘Animal Skin is kind of a heavy, hypnotic track with psych-tinged vocals about longing for typical youth,” frontman Matt Blackwell tells us about the new song. “It went through many different iterations and took us the longest of any song yet.”

It doesn’t take long for “Animal Skin” to build into a powerfully mesmerizing listening experience; it’s a perfect blend of alternative and psychedelic rock, and we can’t wait for you to hear the full Animal Skin EP when it drops tomorrow.

You can grab more details on the new release at Empire Machines’ Bandcamp, and make sure to stay current with everything happening in their world over at their official Facebook page. - Diffuser

"Austin Spotlight: Empire Machines"

With the insane amount of bands in our great little city, it’s never truly shocking that I’m finding promising up and coming bands all the time. Somehow I had never really listened to Empire Machines despite seeing their name from time to time on some local bills. After reaching out to me recently, I gave a listen to their new EP and am rather pleased with the discovery. Below you can check out that new EP entitled Animal Skin. Waiting for you within is what might be one of Austin’s best kept secrets in the indie rock scene. You’ll get a bit of heavy distortion, enchanting melodies and one of the better rhythm sections I’ve heard in quite some time. Opening and title track “Animal Skin” hits super hard and will grab your attention as you make your way through an engaging and rocking 3 tracker. - Austin Town Hall

"Week in Pop"

Austin, Texas quartet Empire Machines premiere “Wanted Way” from their upcoming Animal Skin EP available July 21 that features more desert pop jams for round trips and backpack journeys with buddies. Established in 2011 when Matt Blackwell and Trey McKinley were roommates in college, who would later let Matt Reynolds and Bruce Smith Jr. into the fold to fuse these subtle psych tones into a golden pop crispness that resonates as brightly in the spaces of garages as it does in dives, DIY spaces, main stages, etc.

“Wanted Way” is Empire Machines song that is dedicated to the wayward travelers and starry-eyed wanderers that think too much. The band takes on a paranormal west coast-affected surf approach to a sound built from the Austin hotbed of influences, industries, and impressionable events and festivals that fuse the melting pot of facets that comprise contemporary modern day Americana. Empire Machines echo the motorcycle clubs that ride road tripping between the heartland of America to California that makes the distances between the two disparate communities seem a little closer and comfier. Matt Blackwell took the time earlier this week to chat with us in an interview featured right after the following debut of “Wanted Way”. - Impose

"Song Premiere: "The Plan" by Empire Machines"

June 12, 2015


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Empire Machines have shared the first single off Animal Skin, their upcoming EP. The Austin-based band infuses an indie-rock template with psychedelic nuances to create a driving sound that is uniquely theirs. "The Plan" is, as vocalist and guitarist Matthew Blackwell describes, "about unrequited love and lust, trying to force someone into something when they're not into it, and hurting themselves in the process."

Animal Skin, available July 21, boasts similar upbeat tracks - Culture Collide

"Best New DIY Music 2015, Vol. 2"

Empire Machines is a four piece indie rock outfit from the band-saturated, musical breeding ground of Austin. Founded in 2009, the band first gained recognition in the competitive environment of the Texan state capital in 2011 with the release of their self-titled debut EP. We were among the first blogs to feature the band back then. Fast-forward to 2015. Without realizing that we had nearly forgotten about them (it’s easy, alas, to forget about bands we love because we hear so many in the course of a year), Empire Machines dropped their follow-up EP, Animal Skin, on February 3rd.

While the three-track Animal Skin has flown largely under the radar just about everywhere else, it clearly reminds us of why we dig the band’s blend of heavily distorted, yet blazing, guitar riffs, catchy alternative rock rhythms, dark psychedelic tones, and big-sounding drums paired with minimalistic melodies on singles like “The Plan” and the EP’s title track.

“I think indie rock spans a bunch of different styles of rock, usually with a tendency to take more creative routes and sounds,” lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Blackwell said. Other band members include Trey McKinley on bass; Matt Reynolds on drums, and Bruce Smith Jr. on lead guitar. - Indie Rock Cafe

"The Plan"

Empire Machines is Austin indie that came in fourth in our 2012 Best of Austin reader's poll, and it looks like they're preparing to put a new EP into the world early this year. To get the word out, they've released a fresh-out-of-the-oven single, "The Plan," which has a distinct British-rock sound that we quite dig.

In fact, "The Plan" almost sounds like The Beatles doing Bloc Party, coming in on a big toms beat and then dropping some foggy-night appropriate rhythm guitar as (what I assume is) lead singer Matt Blackwell does his best to convince me that John Lennon had another son who got his voice. It's pure indie rock that actually does focus on the rock part, with distorted guitars featuring prominently, and it's a sign that this band that released their last EP back in 2011 has matured their sound nicely in the in-between years. Look for Empire Machines to put out the full EP soon, and in the meantime, get at a quality Austin indie track (that makes for quite good driving music, if I do say so) with the player below. - The Deli

"Empire Machines: Proper Ghost Man"

EMPIRE MACHINES are a four-piece indie band from Austin, Texas. Although originally formed in 2009 by High School buddies Matt Blackwell (vocals, guitar) and Trey McKinley (bass, backing vocals) the present line-up was not completed until last year when Clellan Hyatt (drums, backing vocals) joined, adding to the talents of James Boriack (guitar, keys) who had been enlisted the year prior.

Presently working on their second EP which should be ready in time for the summer, the band have been playing some ‘unofficial’ shows around their home city during the recent SXSW Festival … their first venture gig-wise along the famous 6th Street!

Ahead of the new EP, the following track, recorded at the tail end of last year, has been released. I’m not sure if this will make it onto that particular release as I’m led to believe that although they are really happy about the song itself, it doesn’t quite ‘fit,’ alongside the others that they are working on.

I’ll take that as a good sign!

‘Proper Ghost Man,’ would certainly compliment any collection of songs, I’d say. It definitely shows how the band has grown from their the release of their debut eponymous EP in 2011 (see below.) There is a real feel of ‘confidence’ in this track, a notion emphasised by the steady, metronomic stomping beat as it marches right across the track.

On the face of it, there may appear to be not too much going on here, but I reckon this is one of those tracks you need to actively listen to: to merely pass this song off as ‘indie rock,’ would not really give a true picture – I’m not so sure I’ve heard anyone blend ‘shoegaze’ and ‘psych,’ before, but that’s what I’m hearing at any rate. The vocals are rather nicely mono-toned, verging on the ‘disinterested,’ but are lightened by some subtle harmonies and the sparingly used whine of synths. The guitars shimmer in the backing, breaking out for little, light ‘indie-style,’ solos.

Like fellow Austin-ites (??) and current LOUD HORIZON favourites Black Books, EMPIRE MACHINES buck the indie music ‘norm,’ in that they are trying to have their music heard outwith the confines of their home city …. just as the rest of the world, it seems, is trying to have theirs heard inside!

If the forthcoming EP stands up to ‘Proper Ghost Man,’ then they may just get their wish sooner rather than later.

(8/10) - Loud Horizon

"Top 25 Austin EP's of 2011: #5-1"

Empire Machines, thus far in their career, have mostly incubated themselves in the studio waiting until their debut EP was polished off just right before releasing it to the world. At long last, the Empire Machines EP was released this past November to widespread critical and fan acclaim. Check out their Facebook page to get a sample of the big things that came as a result of the 6-track EP. We at Ovrld believe all of the praise is well deserved. The Empire Machines EP establishes the band as masters of a wide range of styles. On the EP, the band of guys in their 20s, take risks that keep us intrigued. Through the Muse-esque “Dog Eat Dog,” the electro instrumental “Panda Thief” and beyond, this six track can’t really be simplified down to any sensible “RIYL.” Just go ahead and take a listen and let us know if it’s to your liking.

For our full review of the Empire Machines EP, click here. - Ovrld

"Empire Machines - Empire Machines EP (EP Review)"

Before diving into this EP, it would be good for you to note the talent you’re listening to. These guys paid for the recording, mixing, mastering, etc. of this EP themselves with help from their families. Why? They’re all 21-22 year olds in college who have part-time jobs. What they’ve accomplished is astounding.

It’s unfortunate that this EP is so short. It’s enjoyable from start to finish, easily appealing for its strong rhythm, guitars, and interesting vocals. You’ll find rhythmic guitars used in ways similar to bands like Urge Overkill or Bad Religion, but in a subtler fashion (something like Thom Yorke); you’ll find a myriad of drum rhythms; and you’ll find a fair mix of vocal styles. It’s a surprising amount of diversity packed into 19 minutes.

Here are some highlights:
Never Enough begins with a simple enough drum beat with an electric background before quickly expanding with a guitar line and voice that shine something close to menacing. It expands further into something relatively simple but extremely tight and admirable. While it may not be quite as mysterious or perfected as a Radiohead track from King of Limbs, the song reminds me of such music and already has me comparing this debut EP with the work of venerable, famed artists in alt rock (not to mention wealthy artists in rock who have the funding to take full advantage of modern technology, particularly for percussion). Blackwell’s vocals are incredible here. The first few words “Some will say it’s just how you two operate. I think it’s rooted deeper." really set the tone for the EP, which deals largely with social/relationship pain. The intensity of all the vocals and the excellent percussion, bass, and guitar work set a high standard for the rest of the EP, a standard that is generally met.
The dark sound of Never Enough is not as present in Sweet Teeth. This is the band’s own preference as the ‘single’ from the EP, probably exactly because it is a little lighter and a little less alternative. While not exactly upbeat, it holds a lighter guitar line and a much lighter tone in voice. It’s a quick tune to catch onto, and I imagine it is something that will quickly get stuck in heads- great for a single and definitely a song worth checking out. Outpost brings some of the darkness back, and takes things to a grander scale, particularly near its end.
Dog Eat Dog… oh bass and darkness! While the song is written well, the vocals and style of playing are what truly make this song. It’s aggressive- very aggressive. It starts abruptly, moves abruptly, ends abruptly, and successfully convinces you that whoever the artists are speaking of, she is definitely a ‘selfish bitch’ who didn’t raise expectations of humanity. While I listen for something symbolic other than thoughts on competition and capitalism with some religious references, I won’t be disappointed if there isn’t much else to find. There is only so much one can pack in a two and a half minute song, and this song shines. However, it doesn’t shine so much for me as Never Enough does, not after you get over the shock-and-awe first listen.
While Panda Thief, a newer addition to the EP, I think, may not be so dark as Dog Eat Dog or Never Enough, it may be heavier. It is the only track with no true vocals, but it makes up for this loss with lots of distortion and electronics.
Burning Ties has the most reliance on a simple guitar of the pieces, or it does for the first 30 seconds at least, before becoming something Green-Day-esque very briefly before returning to something definitely Empire Machines. These first 30 seconds were to me the loveliest, most intimate of the EP. If I had something to gripe about for the EP, it would likely be that I didn’t get to hear more of that. While the guy with a guitar is extremely cliché and is often dull, Empire Machines pull it off so nicely that I’d love to hear lots more of it. As it is, this relatively peaceful track was an excellent closer to an EP that was otherwise largely conflicted. The rise to the more climactic Outpost and Dog Eat Dog and the fall back down to quieter realms with the instrumental Panda Thief and subtle Burning Ties is masterfully done and noticeably bring the EP together.

Favourite tracks:
Never Enough, Burning Ties

EP Rating: 8.9/10

Likely, this EP will be doing battle with bands like The Symptoms for my ‘Best Alternative Rock Release’ of the year… - The Universal Yellow Keys

""4th Best Emerging Band In Austin of 2011" Deli Magazine Staff Poll"

"These runner-ups will also qualify for the next phase of the poll" - The Deli Magazine

"Empire Machines EP Album Review"

Empire Machines started back in 2009 right here in the live music capital of the world, Austin, Texas. One of the unique aspects of Empire Machines is the fact that they’ve mainly focused all of their energy into recording in the studio. With all the different venues and multiple music fests available, surely they could have booked a heap of gigs. But after listening to the debut 6 track EP, I would definitely say that all the time in the studio paid off. The self-titled EP is pristinely recorded and perfectly performed.

Empire Machines with their debut EP have put out 6 very different songs. Fans of newer Modest Mouse, Radiohead and Muse will all find something they like in the EP. From a completely instrumental synth heavy track (Panda Thief) to a poppy indie rock jam (Sweet Teeth), taken out of context, these songs could sound like they were put out by completely different bands. Yet, on the EP, thanks to some skillful ordering, the songs seem to flow together quite well. While I was listening to the EP, I couldn’t help but think of Spoon’s Ga Ga Ga Ga. Similar to Ga Ga Ga Ga, Empire Machines’ EP flows from experimental sounds to classic pop rock structure and beyond from track to track.

My favorite songs off the EP are “Never Enough” and “Burning Ties.” On these two tracks, the opening and closing songs of the EP, Empire Machines take their sound down a more sinister path. On “Never Enough” deep organ tones, transient reverby guitar licks and an excellent drum fill, all establish a darker tone that left me wanting to go down the depths with Empire Machines. On “Burning Ties,” Empire Machines again incorporate some really strong drum parts layered with wispy guitar licks that build up to the final exhilarating crescendo of the EP.

Empire Machines - Never Enough

Empire Machines have put together a solid collection of songs that demonstrate their expansive breadth and their recording talent. Currently, the group is gearing up to start touring. I’m definitely excited to hear how these tunes are fleshed out live. We’ll keep you updated on any upcoming show dates. To hear Empire Machines’ debut EP go to their Bandcamp page where it is available to stream and download for free. Go give it a listen and let us know which tracks you’re digging the most in the comments.

- Dan - Ovrld

"Best New Releases - In Dee Mail"

Also, in the past week, on Nov. 16th, the unsigned Austin indie pop/alternative rock band Empire Machines released their self-titled EP, which arrives two year after the band first formed. Now, we say it all of the time, but to be an unsigned indie band in places like Austin, or Brooklyn, or San Francisco, or Portland, is quite the challenge these days.

In order to stand out among the thousands of DIY artists and bands in cities where the competition among bands is fierce, bands need to come up with one or two hot singles that get people’s attention, not just with deejays and music consumers, but also with their peers – who are often times simultaneously rooting for, and against them – artists need to make a splash.

We are a little surprised that Empire Machines have not played live in Austin. In fact, they consider themselves a studio band, but we think it would be a good idea if they got some gigs. - Indie Rock Cafe


Empire Machines EP - November 2011

Proper Ghost Man (single) - March 2013

The Plan (single) - June 2015

Animal Skin EP - July 2015

Scenes (single) - November 2016



Empire Machines began in 2009, in Austin, Texas. Core members, singer and guitarist Matt Blackwell, and bassist Trey McKinley, friends since high school, moved from Houston to Austin and formed the group while rooming together and attending college classes. Releasing their debut self-titled EP in 2011, the band experienced a few lineup changes before realizing their true potential and honing their craft with current members Matt Reynolds on drums, Kevin Garcia on lead guitar and backup vocals, and Kyle Garcia on the keys. Using an umbrella of indie-rock as their guide and psych-rock as a prominent through-line, Empire Machines began gigging heavily in Austin and the surrounding cities, rolling out a sound Diffuser describes as, "powerfully mesmerizing -- a perfect blend of alternative and psychedelic rock", and what Austin music blog Austin Town Hall hails as -- "what might be one of Austin’s best kept secrets in the indie rock scene." 

Band Members