By William Barshop

Radio has grown a soft stop for a destined few indie bands with tunes just catchy enough to warrant nation-wide airtime. Foster the People can go from complete obscurity to having one of the biggest singles of 2011. Your mother might have heard of something called Capital Cities. These little crumbs for alternative pop, however, are always followed up by going back to Rihanna or Miley, so if an interesting sound catches your ear, you’re on your own finding more of the same.  Indie fans are hungry for fresh sounds and new voices, and Tuscaloosa lovers of dance floor synth pop may have found their new favorite band at Green Bar on Saturday, February 15, at a show starring Machines Are People Too.

Machines Are People Too is a group from Nashville that started out as the vocals/production duo of Brian Sylvester and JJ Clark. After some changes to the lineup it now includes Daniel Hoisington on guitar and Ivan Garcia playing drums.

MRP2’s music is painstakingly polished, yet maintains the elusive ethos of not trying too hard. While the pop of the 2010s has smothered verses trying to capture the “soaring” chorus, “Do What You Love” casually perfects the concept while sounding equally urgent and carefree. The beat of “The Fever” sounds like a helter-skelter hybrid of air horns and an alien abduction, but the subtlety of the production speaks to controlled chaos.

So far they have put out two EPs, Dreams in 2012 and Nickels and Dimes in 2013, and are working on material for their first full-length album.

The band followed local rapper, sLanguage, on stage at Green Bar late Saturday night. It took some coaxing to get the subdued crowd on its feet, but once the audience was dancing, the energy flowed on and off the stage.

I met with Machines are People Too before the show at Wilhagan’s, next door to Green Bar. They told me about self-medicating with music, playing packed festivals, and the foreseeable future for the band.

Planet Weekly: How did you arrive at this version of the band?

Brian Sylvester: We always wanted to play fun dance music and it took us a while to figure out the best way to do that. You know it started out more DJ style, then it evolved into this band. Now we’re going back to the dance side of things and we’ve found a really good way that we like to play that.

JJ Clark: We’re just trying to have as much fun as we can. We just want to surround ourselves with people who want to do that with us. So we all trust each other.

PW: You get that vibe from the EP.

JJ: Yeah, Nickels and Dimes, the new EP, is very much about not worrying about the troubles in your life and just going forward with the things you want to do. We wrote it at a time in our lives where we needed to hear that. We wrote it in a way to tell ourselves that – to help us. We’ve kind of been able to help others hear that same message, which has been really cool.

Brian: Yeah, I talked to a photographer friend of mine, an outside perspective, and he said it kind of felt like an artist’s record. You know, we made sacrifices that most people think are crazy. Everybody goes through that but we felt alone.

JJ: We were in Chattanooga at the moment . . . no one was saying “oh everyone goes through that.” Lyrically, that’s where that record came from. And all the little intricacies that come along with having a day job, having a girlfriend, all those things balanced. That was like medication for what was going on.

Brian: It’s definitely an equal step between the sacrifices we made for the band itself and the sacrifices we were making in taking the big step of moving from Chattanooga to Nashville. . . When you live personal lives, you still have a day job and you’re trying to figure out a way to make it all balance, it’s not easy to do.

PW: Tell me about playing Lollapalooza last year.

JJ: We were on Sunday

Ivan Garcia: During Two Door [Cinema Club]

Brian: During every band we love.

JJ: That festival was awesome. Have you been to Bonnaroo?

PW: I haven’t.

JJ: Chicago can handle that many people but Manchester Tennessee really can’t, so getting back and forth is a nightmare. It’s really an experience, and you all go through it together.

Brian: And Bonnaroo is something we’d gone in years past just to visit. And then we played it in 2012 on a side stage and we got to see another side of it. It’s just a special thing to be all in a field in the middle of Tennesee and everybody is just sweating and loving it together.

PW: A lot of music like yours has made its way onto radio. Do you have aspirations of getting radio spins?

JJ: It’s exciting. Maybe.

Brian: I think a couple of years ago maybe we didn’t understand how we would ever be able to. But there’s a lot of groundbreaking bands sort of taking it to the next level, making it more of an option for us. Even for second-rate radio, you know college radio.

JJ: I think at some point we want people to enjoy it, so of course we think about that, but we’re just trying to write what we want to write. I think you can tell if a band tries to sound a certain way.

Brian: We’re at a place with our new material where we feel like we have no limitations. We feel like we can make the music we’ve been meant to make all along.

Daniel: I feel like the new music is kind of off the wall in some ways.  It’s stretching in some ways compared to the last record. There’s a lot of weird sounds and sonic landscapes. I think it’s still in the realm of pop music. . . but music on the radio has been changing so much lately that I think we’re all trying to close the doors and not pay attention to what’s out there. We try to create from a place that’s inside us, a kind of naiveté, childlike enthusiasm. Just try to stay as psyched and pumped up as we can. If it’s not exciting us we move on. So the music’s getting weirder and also more fun to listen to.

PW: People appreciate that, when you just express yourself.

Brian: Sometimes that’s the hardest thing to do

JJ: A lot of it is confidence. I think we’ve gained a lot of confidence. 

Brian: New music and new ideas. That’s where we are now


Machines Are People Too’s music is available for purchase at

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