Secret Machines

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Secret Machines
Secret Machines, performing at Metro, on October 24, 2008. Left to right: Josh Garza, Phil Karnats, Brandon Curtis.
Secret Machines, performing at Metro, on October 24, 2008. Left to right: Josh Garza, Phil Karnats, Brandon Curtis.
Background information
OriginDallas, Texas, United States
GenresAlternative rock, space rock, new prog
Years active2000–2010; 2020-present
Associated actsInterpol, Preteen Zenith, School of Seven Bells, Tripping Daisy, UFOFU, Captain Audio, Electric Flower, EmptyMansions, Cosmicide
Past membersBenjamin Curtis, Phil Karnats

Secret Machines are an American alternative rock band, originally from Dallas, Texas, United States, before moving to New York City. The original lineup consisted of two brothers, Brandon (vocals, bass guitar and keyboards) and Benjamin Curtis (guitar and backing vocals), and Josh Garza (drums). Benjamin left the band in March 2007 to focus on his work with School of Seven Bells, and was replaced on guitar by Phil Karnats. The re-activated band is a two-piece, with the remaining members being Brandon Curtis and Josh Garza.[1]


Early years[edit]

Before forming Secret Machines, the members played in various Dallas bands such as UFOFU, Captain Audio, Comet, When Babies Eat Pennies, and Tripping Daisy. Captain Audio was formed by Garza and vocalist/guitarist/chief songwriter Regina Chellew in the late 1990s as a two-piece noise duo.[2] Brandon—and occasionally Ben—Curtis joined soon after as the original duo began to develop a more standard rock sound. In a little over a year they had recorded and released the EP My Ears Are Ringing But My Heart's OK (1999) and the full-length Luxury or Whether It Is Better To Be Loved than Feared (2000). Shortly after the release of Luxury the band went on extended hiatus and eventually disbanded when Garza and the Curtis brothers moved to New York, leaving Chellew in Dallas to form the band Chao and later join indie pop outfit The Happy Bullets.

September 000 and Now Here Is Nowhere[edit]

The band first recorded their EP September 000 in Chicago, six weeks after forming. Upon moving to New York the band developed their sound and signed to Warner Brothers.[3]

In 2004, Secret Machines released their first full-length CD, Now Here Is Nowhere. The album was released online for purchase well ahead of the physical release, an uncommon decision which helped garner additional press coverage. The song "Nowhere Again", from their debut album, was used in promotional spots for American during its launch, and appeared in the 2006 video game Driver: Parallel Lines.[4]

The album was received well critically with a composite 80 out of 100 rating from critics compiled by Metacritic.[5]

Their second EP, The Road Leads Where It's Led, was released on June 7, 2005. The EP includes a re-recording of the song "The Road Leads Where It's Led", which originally appeared on the debut full-length. Secret Machines opened for Interpol during their 2004 tour in support of the album.[6]

In 2005, Secret Machines opened for Oasis in Europe[7] and co-headlined a US tour with Kings of Leon.[8]

Marfa Mystery Lights: A concert for the UFO's[edit]

French director Charles De Meaux teamed up with the band for a film set in the Texas town of Marfa and included footage of the band recording new material and included an outdoor "concert" at night.[9] The new "Marfa Song" was exclusively available in the film.[10]

Ten Silver Drops and Ben's departure[edit]

In 2006, Ten Silver Drops, their second album, leaked onto file-sharing websites following the release of their lead single "Alone, Jealous and Stoned" in the UK. The album was received favorably, and received a 75 out of 100 on Metacritic's composite rating.[11]

In 2006, the band toured heavily, including opening for U2 for three dates in Mexico.[12]

Following the album's release, the band were interviewed for radio by David Bowie, who was a fan of the band.[13]

Benjamin Curtis left the band on March 3, 2007, to focus full-time on his new band, School of Seven Bells. The news was posted by Brandon on the Secret Machines' message board.[14] On December 29, 2013, Benjamin died of lymphoma in New York City at age 35.[15]

Third album and later years[edit]

After Ben's departure from the band, Secret Machines played two shows in New York, one at the Annex,[16] and the other at the newly opened Highline Ballroom.[16] At these shows, the band played mostly new material to be put on their next album. They included two new members: Blasco (Interpol's touring keyboardist) on guitar, keyboards, and bass, and ex-Tripping Daisy member Phil E. Karnats on guitar. Since these shows, Karnats has become the official guitarist of the band, replacing Ben.

The band finished recording quickly during May 2007 and released a new, self-titled album in the United States on October 14, 2008,[17] on their newly formed TSM recording and distributed by Worlds Fair Records.[18] Karnats announced on his MySpace blog that he recorded guitar parts for the album and would continue to play live with the band.

In 2010, a new single "Like I Can" along with "A terrible light" was released digitally, and Brandon announced plans for a new Secret Machines album, to be titled The Moth, The Lizard and The Secret Machines. This album remains un released.[19] While no official announcement was made, the band was inactive since 2010.

In 2016, Run Out Groove Records, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers, announced that fans had voted Now Here is Nowhere as the new label's third project for vinyl re-issue.[20] This marked the first release of the title in the U.S. on vinyl, limited to 1,625 copies. On September 10, 2018, the label announced that the band's album Ten Silver Drops had been voted by fans as the next ROG re-release and would include a six-song bonus disc containing B-sides and unreleased alternate versions of songs.[21] Subsequently, Run Out Groove announced the release of a double live album culled from a show on January 18, 2006 at the London nightclub The Garage.[22]

Return to activity in 2020[edit]

In January 2018 Brandon published on his twitter account a video of himself and drummer Josh Garza in the studio recording drums, leading to speculation of a return to activity for the band. On June 26 the band announced the availability of "Awake in the Brain Chamber", to be released digitally and in a limited 500 copy vinyl release of August 21, 2020 via TSM Recordings.[23] The band addressed the long period of inactivity and the rebirth of the band in press coverage of the release. A single, "Talos' Corpse", was released simultaneously.[23] "Awake in the Brain Chamber" is performed by Brandon Curtis and Josh Garza, featuring musicians Benjamin Curtis, Chris Kyle, Brian Bisordi and Sarah Pedinotti (of Okkervil River and LipTalk). Songs were mixed by Claudius Mittendorfer[24] and mastered by Joe Lambert. Original album artwork was by Danny Scales.[25]


Secret Machines has been described as progressive rock with some krautrock influences. They describe themselves as space rock. Many have also cited Secret Machines as a style of shoegaze.

The band described Ten Silver Drops as "being influenced by our love for Brian Eno and all things experimental, on the other hand was our love for The Beatles."[26]

They have toured with U2,[27] Foo Fighters, Spiritualized, Oasis,[28] Interpol,[29] M83, Kings of Leon,[30] among others. Secret Machines supported the British rock trio Muse at London's Earls Court in December 2004. They appeared at Lollapalooza 2006 in Chicago and the Carling Reading and Leeds Festivals in England in the same year, as well as the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Texas.


Former members[edit]

  • Phil Karnats: guitar (2007–2010)
  • Benjamin Curtis: guitar, backing vocals (2000–2007; died 2013)





  • "What Used To Be French (Revisit)" (7" vinyl only) (2003) UK
  • "Nowhere Again" (2004) UK No. 49[31]
  • "Sad And Lonely" (2004) UK No. 38[31]
  • "The Road Leads Where It's Led" (2005) UK No. 56[31]
  • "Alone, Jealous & Stoned" (12" vinyl only) (2006) No. 93
  • "Lightning Blue Eyes" (2006) UK No. 57[31]
  • "All At Once (It's Not Important)" (2006) UK No. 76
  • "Dreaming of Dreaming" (2008)
  • "Like I Can B/W Terrible Light" (2010)
  • "Quisiera Ser Alcohol (Nos Vamos Juntos: Un Tributo a Caifanes y Jaguares)" (2010) Mexico


  • Marfa Mystery Lights – The Secret Machines – A Concert for the UFO's [sic] (a performance conceived and filmed by Charles de Meaux) (2007), Les presses du réel


The band contributed three tracks to the soundtrack for the 2007 film Across the Universe: a duet of "I Am the Walrus" with Bono on lead vocals, and the instrumentals "Flying", and "Blue Jay Way".


  1. ^ "Secret Machines Add Tour Dates". Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  2. ^ Swihart, Stanton. "My Ears Are Ringing But My Hearts OK - Captain Audio". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  3. ^ Wilonsky, Robert (2004-06-24). "Anatomy of a Buzz". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  4. ^ "Driver: Parallel Lines: Sounds of 2006 - Music News at IGN". Archived from the original on 2011-08-25. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
  5. ^ "Now Here Is Nowhere by Secret Machines". Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  6. ^ "Interpol, Secret Machines Plan Tour". Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  7. ^ "Oasis at The National Bowl (Milton Keynes) on 10 Jul 2005". Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  8. ^ "Kings Of Leon, Secret Machines Make Touring Team". Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  9. ^ Wilonsky, Robert (15 January 2007). "Secret Machines' Marfa Trip Not So Secret Anymore, Looks Like". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  10. ^ "Charles de Meaux : Marfa Mystery Lights - Les presses du réel". Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  11. ^ "Ten Silver Drops by Secret Machines". Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ "David Bowie interviews Secret Machines - NME". 2006-04-05. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  14. ^ Curtis, Brandon. "Announcements". The Secret Machines Message Board. Archived from the original on December 20, 2008. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  15. ^ "R.I.P. School of Seven Bells' Benjamin Curtis | Pitchfork". Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  16. ^ a b "Secret Machines Gigography, Tour History". Songkick. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  17. ^ "NME news story about future album". 2008-08-04. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
  18. ^ "The Secret Machines: A Band Reborn". 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  19. ^ Interview Archived 2012-06-04 at the Wayback Machine,, February 5, 2010. Accessed January 19, 2013.
  20. ^ "Now Here is Nowhere 2LP". Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  21. ^ "Ten Silver Drops Expanded Edition by Run Out Groove - MP3 Downloads, Streaming Music, Lyrics". Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  22. ^ a b "Live at the Garage". Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  23. ^ a b "Secret Machines on their long-awaited return with new album 'Awake In The Brain Chamber': "After my brother's death I was sure that I was done writing songs"". 26 June 2020. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  24. ^ "Claudius Mittendorfer". Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  25. ^ "Track: Secret Machines – Talos' Corpse, plus news of return with album 'Awake in the Brain Chamber'". 27 June 2020. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  26. ^ "Secret Machines Announces Release of Ten Silver Drops Expanded Edition and Share Rare Gillian Welch Cover of "Everything Is Free" -". 2018-10-03. Retrieved 2020-06-29.
  27. ^ "U2's Opening Acts (1976-present)". Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  28. ^ "OASIS GIVE SECRET MACHINES HOPE | NME". NME Music News, Reviews, Videos, Galleries, Tickets and Blogs | NME.COM. 2005-07-28. Retrieved 2020-06-29.
  29. ^ "Interpol, Secret Machines Plan Tour". 31 August 2004. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  30. ^ "Kings Of Leon, Secret Machines Make Touring Team". Billboard. 2005-06-06. Retrieved 2020-06-29.
  31. ^ a b c d e "SECRET MACHINES | Artist". OCC. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  32. ^ "Ten Silver Drops - Secret Machines". Billboard. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  33. ^ Breihan, Tom (2009-08-26). "World's Fair Shuts Down". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 15 October 2011.