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.
Background information
OriginDallas, Texas, United States
GenresAlternative rock, space rock, new prog
Years active2000–2010
Associated actsInterpol (band), Preteen Zenith, School of Seven Bells, Tripping Daisy, UFOFU, Captain Audio, Electric Flower, EmptyMansions
MembersBrandon Curtis
Josh Garza
Phil Karnats
Past membersBenjamin Curtis

Secret Machines are a three-piece American alternative rock band, originally from Dallas, Texas, 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.[1]

Brandon has been a touring member of the band Interpol since 2010.[2]


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.[3] 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's moved to New York, leaving Chellew in Dallas to form the band Chao and later join indie pop outfit The Happy Bullets.

Sonically, Captain Audio and Secret Machines are very similar. Although Captain Audio employed more experimentation and sound collage and Secret Machines are a more structured indie rock band, the Captain Audio records form the template that the Curtis brothers built upon when forming The Secret Machines. In the liner notes for Captain Audio's Luxury, all of the additional musicians who played on the album are credited simply as "Secret Machines".

September 000 and Now Here Is Nowhere[edit]

The band went to Chicago first, where they recorded their EP, September 000, six weeks after forming, as a document of the band's development at that stage.

Upon moving to New York the band rehearsed relentlessly and developed a strong enough industry Buzz to be signed to Warner Brothers but only after going to Los Angeles to play live.[4]

In 2004, Secret Machines released their first full-length CD - Now Here Is Nowhere. Unusually the album was released online for purchase well ahead of the physical release feeding 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 videogame Driver: Parallel Lines.[5]

The album was received very well critically with a composite 80 out of 100 rating from critics compiled by Metacritic [6]

Their second EP, The Road Leads Where It's Led, was released on 7 June 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. The Secret Machines opened for Interpol during their 2004 tour in support of the album [7]

In 2005 The Secret Machines opened for Oasis in Europe[8] and co-headlined a US tour With the Kings of Leon.[9]

Ten Silver Drops and Ben's departure[edit]

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 once again received favorably, though some reviewers struggled with the move towards what sounded like more stadium friendly songs. The album received a composite 75 out of 100 on Metacritic composite rating.[10]

In 2006, the band did a headlining In-the-Round tour in support of the album.[11] In addition the band opened for U2 at three dates in Mexico.[12]

Following the album's release, the band were interviewed for radio by David Bowie, who was openly a huge fan of the band.[13] Bowie was impressed by the band's ability to record songs that had not been pre-written and said he was a big fan of the first three songs on the album, in particular "Alone, Jealous and Stoned".

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 Curtis on the Secret Machines' message board.[14] On December 29, 2013, former member Benjamin Curtis died of lymphoma in New York City at the age of 35.[15]

Third album[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] The online release notice features a free download of a non-album B-side titled "Dreaming of Dreaming". Phil E. Karnats announced on his MySpace blog that he recorded guitar parts for the album and will continue to play live with the band.

Fourth album[edit]

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

Run Out Groove Records Re-releases[edit]

In 2016 Run out Groove Records, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers, announced that fans had voted "Now Here is Nowhere" as the new labels 3rd 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 6-song bonus disc containing B-sides and unreleased alternate versions of songs.[21] Run Out Groove Records, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers, Released a previously unreleased live show recorded at The Garage in London, January 18, 2006. The album was limited to 1440 vinyl copies but is available online.


"They take Pink Floyd psychedelia, Led Zeppelin stomp, and The Who-inspired choruses and charge them full of big-rock beats, atmospheric keyboards and all kinds of electronic whooshes." — Rolling Stone

Secret Machines can be best described as progressive rock with some krautrock influences mixed in. They describe themselves as space rock. Many have also cited the Secret Machines as a style of shoegaze. Listeners can hear hints of Procol Harum, U2, and The Flaming Lips.

The secret machines described, on their Facebook page, 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."

They have toured with Foo Fighters, Spiritualized, Oasis, Interpol, M83, Kings of Leon and many 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]





  • "What Used To Be French (Revisit)" (7" Vinyl only) (2003) UK
  • "Nowhere Again" (2004) UK No. 49 [22]
  • "Sad And Lonely" (2004) UK No. 38 [22]
  • "The Road Leads Where It's Led" (2005) UK No. 56 [22]
  • "Alone, Jealous & Stoned" (12" Vinyl only) (2006) No. 93
  • "Lightning Blue Eyes" (2006) UK No. 57 [22]
  • "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 (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". Clash Music. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  2. ^ "Interpol adds Dave Pajo & Secret Machines' Brandon Curtis". Brooklyn Vegan. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  3. ^ Swihart, Stanton. "My Ears Are Ringing But My Hearts OK - Captain Audio". Allmusic. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  4. ^ Wilonsky, Robert (2004-06-24). "Anatomy of a Buzz". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  5. ^ "Driver: Parallel Lines: Sounds of 2006 - Music News at IGN". Archived from the original on 2011-08-25. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
  6. ^ Now Here Is Nowhere by Secret Machines, retrieved 2018-01-28
  7. ^ "Interpol, Secret Machines Plan Tour". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  8. ^ "Oasis at The National Bowl (Milton Keynes) on 10 Jul 2005". Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  9. ^ "Kings Of Leon, Secret Machines Make Touring Team". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  10. ^ Ten Silver Drops by Secret Machines, retrieved 2018-01-28
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "David Bowie interviews Secret Machines - NME". 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". JamBase. 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". Run Out Groove Official Website. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  22. ^ a b c d e "SECRET MACHINES | Artist". OCC. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  23. ^ "Ten Silver Drops - Secret Machines". Billboard. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  24. ^ Breihan, Tom (2009-08-26). "World's Fair Shuts Down". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 15 October 2011.

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