Immaculate collection

Victoria indie stars Immaculate Machine return to Halifax. Chris McCluskey crosses his fingers for Stage Nine.

The members of Victoria-based Immaculate machine are earning a reputation for their remarkable live presence, but few dates are as memorable as those they travel over 6,000 kilometres to reach. Since forming in late 2002, the band’s handful of gigs in our city have included two venue closings—one of which happened unexpectedly in the middle of their Halifax debut.

“It was at the Salvation. This crazy arts collective and then the woman freaked out and started swearing. It was pretty fun though,” says keyboardist and vocalist Kathryn Calder. “It was a crazy night and the police were called, it was an ordeal. I think it was just noise, and I guess they had gotten complaints already.”

The trio’s trend of arriving in town and closing the doors on something—the other was Spring Garden venue The Idiot, now Sub Rosa—will continue. This year’s CKDU Funding Drive officially concludes on October 29 at Stage Nine with a headlining performance by Immaculate Machine.

The group’s second full-length, Ones and Zeroes, has been listing high on the station’s charts since its release in September. Immaculate Machine’s last LP, Transporter, which followed 2003 EP The View, reached number one in 2004. Calder says the biggest difference from their initial stabs at albums was the process by which this one was recorded.

“I think we just spent a little more time on this one,” she says. “We spent way more time in the studio. We went into this sort of great punk studio in Victoria. With the other two albums we recorded them live off the floor, and with this one we basically just spent a lot of time in the studio. And this one is a little more upbeat than the other ones, but there are lots of slow songs.”

Ones and Zeroes still features the band’s energetic noise-pop style, not dissimilar from west coast contemporaries The Organ—but far more dynamic. With Victoria’s scene also home to Hot Hot Heat and members of Wolf Parade, the group’s sound is consistent with the city’s current inspirational climate. Immaculate Machine’s rotating female and male fronting vocals and three-part harmonies are engaging to listen to, with the impact of The Talking Heads and Smiths shining through. Coupled with an unconventional guitar (Brooke Gallupe)/keyboard (Calder)/drum (Luke Kozlowski) combo—there is no bassist—they are a spectacle you can rock out and get your groove on to.

“We sort of have a hard time pinpointing exact influences, we sort of have a bunch of them like The Clash or The Talking Heads,” Calder says. “People like to say we’re kind of new wave, we kind of have a new wave thing going.”

Immediately following the Stage Nine show, the band will fly across the Atlantic for two dates in London with The New Pornographers, who will also be out pushing a new record. Calder, who will play a dual role as keyboardist for the headliner, also has blood connections to the Vancouver-based band. Her mother was adopted at a young age and later tracked her lineage to New Pornos frontman Carl Newman. They were reunited, along with the rest of her family, eight years ago.

“We met the whole family, and he was a part of it,” she says. “He was obviously a part of the Vancouver music scene, but I was a little bit young. I was 14. So way before The New Pornographers. I think Neko Case, not long after that, put out Virginian, if I remember correctly.”

It was through bassist and recording engineer John Collins that Calder was invited to join Immaculate Machine, and also how the band earned the opportunity to play in Britain.

“Basically we met John, who is also in the Evaporators,” she says. “Immaculate Machine played with them a bunch of times in Victoria, and I sort of introduced myself as Carl’s niece.” Clader laughs. “He invited us to a bunch of shows, they came to a bunch of shows, and it kind of happened like that.”

Immaculate Machine w/Windom Earle and HotShotRobot, October 29 at Stage Nine, Grafton at Blowers, 10pm, $7 ($5 before 10pm).

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