Build A Machine's Reggae-Rock Brings Boston to the Beach

In OC, reggae-rock trio Build A Machine are known as “the Boston boys.” In New England, Mike Serra, Tom McCarthy and Tyler Saraca comprise “that band from Cali.” Either way, the Huntington Beach-based group is releasing their debut EP, The Desert Sessions, today and they believe it's sound is strung enough to pacify both coasts.

“We really wanted to put out a serious album, not just throw it out there like 'Here it is.' That's why we only did a six-song EP instead of a full album. Every song is different and special,” says McCarthy, Build A Machine's bassist and singer. “It's a rockier, funkier reggae with a lot going on. It's a very complex sound. There are a lot of harmonies, but there are also hip-hop beats going on. It's a little bit of everything.”


Sonically, Build A Machine is every bit as complicated as McCarthy says. The harmonizing between the bassist and Build A Machine's other vocalist, Serra (who also plays guitar), is reminiscent of other reggae-rock bands (think 311), but with some distinctively old-school hip-hop beats in the background.

These days, the three-piece has turned the promotion and touring centered around their debut into a nearly full-time job, handling everything from the marketing and business side of things to booking shows and playing festivals across the country. That's probably for the best, considering the three gave up their more stable lives in Massachusetts to risk it all on the West Coast.

“We're all from the same town in Boston, and we decided to pack up the Honda and move out here to buckle down on our music,” McCarthy says. “We wanted to take our 9-to-5s away and focus on the project. Two of us didn't even have jobs or anything out here, we were just crammed into an apartment making music.”

The band eventually decided to rent out “a house in the desert in the middle of nowhere” to record their first EP (hence the name, The Desert Sessions). Bold decisions like renting a house in the desert show that while the Southern California scene might be enough to consume young bands, which is why McCarthy believes Build A Machine was smart to wait until they were older before their cross-country move.

“We're just taking it step-by-step and doing everything the right way,” McCarthy says. “It's easy to get washed in the waves with other bands, but we're 30, not 18. If we were 18, we'd probably try to go straight Hollywood. Now, we're more mature, more professional, and it's been very well-received.”

Build A Machine's debut EP, The Desert Sessions, is available on iTunes on March 2. More information is available on the band's website.

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