Members of A Perfect Circle and Eagles of Death Metal Create Own Identity With The Beta Machine

The Beta Machine members may be known for other projects they are parts of, but that may change with the release of their debut EP.
The Beta Machine members may be known for other projects they are parts of, but that may change with the release of their debut EP. Priscilla Scott
Creating your own identity as a new band can be quite a challenge if the other projects you're in include A Perfect Circle, Puscifer, and Eagles of Death Metal.

But that's exactly what bassist Matt McJunkins and drummer Jeff Friedl are trying to do with their new project The Beta Machine.

The pair are no strangers to the Valley, as they've performed here countless time over the past decade in different music outfits, and Friedl is from Tucson and attended University of Arizona. McJunkins and Eagles of Death Metal made worldwide headlines in 2015 when the band's Paris concert was the site of an ISIS terrorist attack that left 130 concertgoers dead.

The Beta Machine who will be releasing their debut EP All This Time at the end of the month will make a stop in Phoenix tonight to perform at The Music Therapy Blackout Charity Concert at The Pressroom. Proceeds from the show will go toward raising money for musical instruments and studio gear for "Sophie's Place" inside Cardon Children's Medical Center in Mesa. The event, put on by David Kinsler of DK Media, will also feature local Vinyl Station. We got the skinny from McJunkins and Friedl on what challenges they face getting the project off the ground, the differences between the frontmen in their other projects, and rigorous touring schedules.

New Times: How did you start putting together ideas for this project in the beginning stages?
Matt McJunkins: Jeff and I had been working together in these other bands over the course of the past eight years, and that's how the whole thing started. We were working on stuff for other bands, and we were working on material that we liked but we weren't sure what to do with it, or some of the other bands weren't sure what to do with it, so we kind of put it aside and started developing it and we weren't even really sure why. We just did it because we like those songs, and it seemed a shame to let them go to waste. What The Beta Machine is changed a lot over that time. At first we were going to just write the music and have someone else sing on the stuff or have different lyricists come in and write, since neither of us had ever written lyrics before or sang lead before. We just kept pushing forward and decided to do what we really wanted to do as opposed to having a ton of other people come in and work on the stuff.

What's the latest news on your debut EP All This Time ?

Matt McJunkins: We're releasing the EP through Pledge Music, and for the past couple months we've had the pre-orders available on the website. There is the digital version, physical copies, vinyl, signed stuff, and some different packages. There is different stuff with Freidl and myself, and you can go hang out with us in Vegas or go on a cruise. We've been wanting to release this for awhile, but things happen and Jeff and I have both been busy on tour over the last year both with Eagles of Death Metal and Puscifer, so it didn't make sense to put it out until now. Unfortunately, we don't always know our touring schedule far in advance. Sometimes you have plans to do stuff and then your plans have to change.

Have you decided on a release date?
Jeff Friedl: We're looking at late January, it's kind of like a due date for a child. We've backed the date up a couple times in order to get our ducks in a row on the pledge thing but everything is moving forward and it's looking like its going to come out then.

Do you think that since you play in all these other projects it's harder for people to stay focused on this project specifically?
Matt McJunkins: Maybe. ... Even though we've been working on the EP and playing shows for a couple of years. We were kicking around ideas well before that. The Beta Machine is something we can do whenever we see fit. We always want to be able to create whatever kind of music we want and not be locked into a certain thing where it's a typical schedule of putting out your record then go tour and then pump out another. We always want to do things when it makes sense for us.

Jeff Friedl: We're hoping that by actually putting out the EP and people having physical copies of a record with artwork it will take us out of that realm and people won't be confused who we are and if it's a serious thing or not. We certainly have never wanted it to be a side project. But we can't just expect people to [accept] it's a serious thing when we don't have an. actual record out. We're hoping this changes that landscape drastically.

Your touring schedule with the other projects must make it hard to dedicate as much time to The Beta Machine as you'd like.
Jeff Friedl: We were like two ships passing in the night. Puscifer actually put together quite a record cycle — more so than any of us ever thought — and same thing with  Eagles of Death Metal. Matt and I started the EODM touring cycle together, and the ship just kept sailing. Before we knew it, a year and a half had passed before we were both home.

Over the years you guys have kind of been a package deal playing in different touring bands together and when Matt decided to stay with The Eagles of Death Metal and Jeff went back to Puscifer you guys were separated. Was it weird not being around each other on a daily basis?
Matt McJunkins: It's true we have played in a lot of bands together and of course started our own band. It definitely made it harder to work on The Beta Machine. It was always a plus being in A Perfect Circle or Puscifer together, because if there was a night off or something and we needed to come up with some ideas for a song we could.

What are the biggest similarities and biggest differences between working Maynard James Keenan in Puscifer/A Perfect Circle and Jesse Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal?
Matt McJunkins: Both individuals work their asses off and both are very trusting. When you get asked to play in their bands there is no chipping away. You go into rehearsal and things evolve naturally. If you've been invited to join the party then you're there for a good reason, and that's because they trust you to do what's best for the show and best for the music. They are both always working on music and always have something in motion. Neither of them seem to have much time off, and they are working on one project or another. Obviously their music is very different. With EODM it's rock 'n' roll and you come to shake your ass and have a good time. With A Perfect Circle or Puscifer, the show is much more involved, and it's more of a production. In EODM we kind of fly by the seat of our pants and the other bands are more controlled environments.

Matt, will you be returning to A Perfect Circle this year?
McJunkins: Yes.

Do you feel like the other bands you play have helped shape the sound of The Beta Machine?
Matt McJunkins: It's impossible for it not to since we work so closely with those bands. When you go from working on a record into rehearsing for the shows and touring you play the songs a lot. They kind of seep into your pores and you can't help that. And of course it's music that we like, so that's what we like to play. I think we have a lot of similar influences anyway with those bands, and naturally you're going to hear some of those influences in our music. I grew up listening to A Perfect Circle, so that's already an influence whether I was playing in that band or not.

Essentially The Beta Machine is the two of you, but in a live setting you perform with a full band and other musicians appear on the EP as well. Does that confuse people who aren't familiar with the band?

Jeff Friedl: I guess it's a bit of a tricky thing but over time people with figure out slowly but surely that we're the creators of the band but certainly the other members of the group are and intricate part of it and we couldn't do it without them. The easiest way for people to figure it out is see the background Matt and I come from with the bands we've played in.
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Jim Louvau
Contact: Jim Louvau