Machinations (band)

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OriginSydney, New South Wales, Australia
GenresSynthpop, funk, pop
Years active1980 (1980)–1989 (1989), 1997, 2012 (2012)–present
LabelsPhantom, White, A&M, Epic, Mushroom, Almacantar
Past memberssee members list

Machinations are an Australian synthpop band which formed in 1980. They reached the top 20 on the Kent Music Report albums chart with Big Music in 1985. Their top 30 hits on the related singles chart are "Pressure Sway", "No Say in It", "My Heart's On Fire" and "Do to You". By 1989 the group had disbanded. They briefly reunited in 1997 and then reformed in 2012.


Machinations formed in 1980 in Sydney with the line up of Tim Doyle on guitar; Fred Loneragan on lead vocals; and Tony Starr on keyboards, vocals, and drum machine.[1][2] Doyle and Starr had started song writing together at the end of 1979 using electronic instruments. Their school friend, Loneragan, joined,[2][3] and in early 1980 Machinations played their first show at Garibaldi's in Darlinghurst. Another school friend, Nero (Nick) Swan, soon joined on bass guitar.[1][2]

In late 1980, with the assistance of radio station Triple J, the band recorded tracks at Trafalgar Studios for the new music program.[4] In November that year they entered a studio with Lobby Loyde as producer.[3] The band's debut single, "Average Inadequacy",[4][5] was released on 26 August 1981. Their debut self-titled, four-track extended play followed on 20 November; both appeared on the independent Phantom Records label.[1][2][4] Machinations were managed by SCAM (Suss City Artist Management), which consisted of Sally Collins in partnership with Loyde.[6] SCAM also managed The Triffids, Sardine v, The Sunnyboys, Tablewaiters and Local Product.[6]

"Average Inadequacy" created interest for Mushroom Records's imprint White Records Label to sign the band[3] and reissue that single with a new B-side, "Machinations of Dance" in March 1982.[1][4] In January 1983 the group issued a new single, "Jack". It was followed by "Pressure Sway" in April, which peaked at No. 21 on the Australian Kent Music Report singles chart.[7][8] Shelley Dempsey of The Canberra Times described it as "probably [the band's] piece de resistance, (or most thrashed song, at least)".[9] In the United States it reached No. 40 on the Billboard Club Play Singles chart[3][10][citation needed].

In April 1983 Machinations released their debut album, Esteem, which peaked at No. 54 on the Kent Music Report albums chart.[7][8] It was produced by Russell Dunlop.[11] Woroni found that their live show is "tightly paced clever pop music" and that "it's gratifying to see that that punch has found its way on" the "very satisfying and worthwhile album".[12] "Jumping the Gap" was released in October 1983. Dempsey declared that lead singer "Loneragan gives a high-powered performance which is probably rivalled only by Midnight Oil's Peter Garrett".[9] Henry Downes provided percussion at live shows with the band and created the artwork for "Jumping the Gap".

Following the album's release, and an Australian tour supporting Joe Jackson,[3] Machinations added Warren McLean on drums.[2] Previously they had used a drum machine, Roland CR-78. The band recorded their second album, Big Music, at Rhinoceros Studios using Julian Mendelsohn as producer.[1][2] Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, declared that the group "[emerged] with the smoothest and most fully realised album of [their] career".[1][3] Big Music appeared on 24 June 1985 and peaked at No. 20.[1][7][8]

Big Music provided three charting singles.[7] The lead single, "No Say in It" was released in September 1984.[7] The group found Mendelsohn "was really great to work with" on the single.[13] They postponed working on the rest of the album until the producer was once again available.[13] "No Say in It" is the band's highest charting single, it peaked at No. 14.[7][8] The second single, "My Heart's On Fire" followed in May 1985 and reached No. 27.[7][8] "You Got Me Going Again" was released in August and made No. 39.[7][8] The album's fourth single, "Execution of Love", released in December failed to chart.[7] Naomi Star provided backing vocals on most of the album,[3] although Inez Lawson and Anne Redmond were featured on "No Say in It".[1][14]

On 13 July 1985 Machinations performed three tracks, "Pressure Sway", "My Heart's On Fire" and "No Say in It", for the Oz for Africa concert (part of the global Live Aid program).[15] It was broadcast in Australia (on both Seven Network and Nine Network) and on MTV in the US.[15] The group developed a cult following in dance clubs during the mid-1980s.[10] The Canberra Times' Andrew Ferrington felt they "have to be one of the best dance bands in the country at present. And Big Music is one of the best Australian dance albums about. It captures beat, depth and harmony that could well have eluded the Machis. The second side is by far the better. Led by 'No Say', the four other songs combine to give an exhausting record of the band at its best".[16]

In May 1986 White Label issued The Big Beat, a collection of dance remixes of previous singles which reached No. 83 on the albums chart.[7][8] That year McLean left to join Melbourne funk-pop outfit, I'm Talking.[1][2] He was replaced on drums, briefly by Downes and more permanently, by John MacKay (ex-Sea Monsters) in early 1987.[1][2] The band were back in the studios soon after with US producer, Andy Wallace (Prince, Run DMC), recording a new album.[1][2]

Their third album, Uptown was released in October 1988 and reached No. 46.[7][8] It provided four singles over eighteen months. The lead single, "Do to You" was released in August 1987 and reached No. 15.[7][8] The second single, "Intimacy" reached No. 40, the third, "Do It to Me" peaked at No. 69 while the fourth, "Cars and Planes" failed to chart.

The group had become a popular band on the Australian touring circuit.[3] Their activities were curtailed in April 1989 when a hit-and-run car accident left Loneragan with a broken neck, multiple cuts, bruises and concussion.[1][17] He spent several months recuperating in hospital. Initially fellow band members intended to continue whilst Loneragan recovered,[3] however the group disbanded as various members left to join other local groups.[1][10] Swan toured with the James Freud's band and with MacKay performed in Absent Friends.[2]

In early 1997 Machinations, with Loneragan, reconvened for live appearances,[10] which they hoped would lead to new recordings;[1] however no new material appeared.

In September 2006 US label, Almacantar Records, reissued the band's original 1981 EP with one additional track, "Average Inadequacy".[18]

In February 2012, Machinations reformed and performed two shows at The Bridge Hotel in Rozelle and have continued infrequently since. .


  • Tim Doyle - guitar (1980–present)
  • Tony Starr - keyboards (1980–present)
  • Fred Loneragan - vocals (1980–present)
  • Nick (Nero) Swan - bass guitar (1981–1995)
  • John Mackay - drums (1987–2016)
Former members
  • Henri Downes - percussion (1982–83)
  • Warren McLean - drums (1983–86)
Touring/session vocalists
  • Naomi Starr, Tony Mott, Inez Lawson, Jenny Andrews, Ricardo.


Studio Albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak chart positions Accreditations
1983 Esteem 54 Gold
1985 Big Music 20
1988 Uptown 46

Extended Plays[edit]

Year Details
1981 Machinations
  • Released: December 1981
  • Label: Phantom Records PH-13
  • Format(s): Vinyl


Year Album details Peak chart positions
1986 The Big Beat
  • Released: May 1986
  • Label: White Label Records L-20051
  • Format(s): Vinyl, CD


List of singles as lead artist, with selected chart positions and certifications
Year Title Peak chart positions Album
1981 "Average Inadequacy" 98 non-album single
1983 "Jack" - Esteem
"Pressure Sway" 21
"Jumping the Gap" 59 non-album single
1984 "No Say in It" 14 Big Music
1985 "My Heart's On Fire" 27
"You Got Me Going Again" 39
"Execution of Love" -
1987 "Do to You" 15 Uptown
1988 "Intimacy" 40
"Do It To Me" 69
1989 "Cars and Planes" -


  • McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Whammo Homepage". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 5 April 2004. Retrieved 4 May 2014. Note: Archived [on-line] copy has limited functionality.
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n McFarlane, 'Machinatons' entry. Archived from the original on 29 August 2004. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Holmgren, Magnus. "Machinations". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 29 September 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Jones, Rhys (4 June 2008). "Big Music from Machinations". RetroUniverse. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d Dempsey, Shelley (6 June 1984). "Machinations back tomorrow night". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. p. 28. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  5. ^ Walker, Clinton (1982). Inner City Sound. Glebe, NSW: Wild & Woolley. National Library of Australia. p. 132. ISBN 0909331480.
  6. ^ a b Collins, Sally (April 2000). "Sally Collins' Tribute". The Triffids Official Website. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book Ltd. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. Note: Used for Australian Singles and Albums charting from 1974 until Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) created their own charts in mid-1988. In 1992, Kent back calculated chart positions for 1970–1974.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i
  9. ^ a b Dempsey, Shelley (26 October 1983). "Kate's Birthday will be laid to rest with official wake". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. p. 26. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d Sutton, Michael. "Machinations | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  11. ^ Cashmere, Paul (17 May 2009). "Vale Russell Dunlop and Ian Miller". Undercover Media (Paul Cashmere, Ros O'Gorman). Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  12. ^ "Machinations, Esteem, White Label". Woroni. Canberra. 23 May 1983. p. 14. Retrieved 4 May 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
  13. ^ a b Ferrington, Andrew (13 June 1985). "Machinations: all is under control". The Canberra Times. p. 19. Retrieved 4 May 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
  14. ^ Big Music (liner notes). White Records/Mushroom Records. 24 June 1985. RML 53172.
  15. ^ a b "Oz for Africa". Retrieved 12 March 2008.
  16. ^ "Rock: Good Listening". The Canberra Times. 29 July 1985. p. 16. Retrieved 4 May 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
  17. ^ "Singer injured". The Canberra Times. 11 April 1989. p. 2. Retrieved 4 May 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
  18. ^ "Machinations". Almacantar Records. 21 September 2006. Archived from the original on 22 October 2007. Retrieved 9 January 2009.
  19. ^ a b c Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives: Australian Chart Book. pp. 185–186. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.

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