Sister Machine Gun
By Bob Gourley | Originally published in 1994
“We’re cursed, everyone who joins the band, including me, loses their job, their girlfriend, wherever they live,” proclaims Sister Machine Gun’s Chris Randall. “For some reason it’s happened to everybody. And every time somebody wants to play with us live I warn them that they’re going to lose their house, their job and their girlfriend.”
The curse holds true for his musical partner, Chris Kelly, who saw his other band (Virus 23) dissolve when he joined Sister Machine Gun. But with a well-received new album, “The Torture Technique,” and a successful tour with KMFDM, the future is looking bright for their latest musical endeavor.
Randall comes from a background of being a roadie, having toured with such acts as Foetus, KMFDM, and Jesus and Mary Chain. He had put together a Sister Machine Gun demo to get live shows and attracted the attention of KMFDM and Die Warzau’s Jim Marcus.
“They got together a good Sister Machine Gun demo that they gave to Wax Trax, and I signed on the dotted line a week later,” explains Randall. “So I never actually went sending them a demo or anything. I got really lucky, it just kind of happened.”
Kelly, who had been working as a roadie for Sister Machine Gun, was then promoted to being a member of the band. Not seeing the need for additional musicians, Randall sees the studio version of Sister Machine Gun remaining as a duo.
Currently, Final Cut guitarist Greg Lucus and drummer Scott Churilla round out the live line-up. Churilla was discovered by Randall playing in a cover band at an Indiana Bar.
Sister Machine Gun’s music is created entirely in the studio. The duo will just book time and improvise in the studio, and then Randall will take a cassette of the recording to come up with the lyrics.
When asked if this causes a problem preparing for the live shows, Randall responds, “yeah, because I never know the words to the songs. It’s not like we had them beforehand. Our live sound is completely different from the record because of the fact that it’s not written as a band. What I do is just go back and get the 24 track tapes out and make a backing tape, which has some kind of similarity to what’s on the album, and the others just play over the top. So the tape will have bass and difficult keyboard parts and nonsense like that and we just go and do normal rock and roll over the top.”
Sister Machine Gun use a Mini Disc instead of the usual DAT to supply pre-recorded backing tracks for the live shows. Using Mini Disc gives them the ability to instantly select any track and alter the set list at will. The group has done some shows completely live, using a bass player, but Randall wasn’t satisfied by the sound and for the time being will continue using the Mini Disc.
Sister Machine Gun will soon be heading to Japan for a tour with KMFDM and will start work on a new album in September. Recording will take place in January, for a release next fall. The group has now gotten to the point where the business side of things is getting in the way of making music, so they have hired a magazine (“we’re a really band now!,” proclaims Randall.”)See all interviews →