“We’re playing with history as a medium in this post-9/11 era of paranoia and terrorism,” visual artist Ryan Hartsell says of Slaves for Gods.EXPAND
“We’re playing with history as a medium in this post-9/11 era of paranoia and terrorism,” visual artist Ryan Hartsell says of Slaves for Gods.
courtesy the artist

These Machines Are Winning to Release Three Albums, Corresponding Comics

These Machines Are Winning plays Double Wide on Saturday, May 27

Dylan Silvers could never be accused of being an underachiever. With his band, These Machines Are Winning, he's about to release a box set of three new albums, plus a three-part comic book collection called Slaves for Gods.

Seated next to his main collaborators, Ryan Hartsell and Jason Godi, in a high-rise office on Main Street in downtown Dallas, Silvers explains how everything came together to record the albums, History’s Written by the Winners, Teenage LSD and Slaves for Gods, as well as their corresponding comics, which will be released this weekend.

Just two years ago, the band — whose sound is a mix of '80s new wave and electronic pop — pulled a similar move when it released two albums, KURU and Architect of Decay, at the same time. Some might say that's too much music and art to digest at once, but These Machines Are Winning remains undeterred.

Silvers writes the songs, Hartsell works on the visuals and Godi develops the scripts for the artists. This new comic book collection is four years in the making. In that time, they've worked closely with publishers and various artists.

“It started small,” Hartsell says. “Dylan and I have been brainstorming on how to combine efforts. I’ve always been a visual guy. He’s an audio guy. We figured out a perfect blend.”

Shortly after starting to work together, Silvers and Hartsell paired up with Godi and bassist Blake McWhorter.

Renowned comic book artist Mark “Jock” Simpson drew the art for what became the debut, Defender 1. The characters he drew became the band members' personas. During performances and videos, they wear masks and remain in character.

“We’re able to crossbreed things that we are influenced by from the past and on to the future,” Silvers says.

The stories they tell are reminiscent of Robocop, They Live, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension and Watchmen.

“We’re playing with history as a medium in this post-9/11 era of paranoia and terrorism,” Hartsell says. “It’s taboo for people to play with it in their art. We feel like we should be doing that, especially right now. It feels like we should have a '60s revolution right now. People definitely need to be speaking out.”

The band attends comic book conventions and shows its videos at film festivals, making its work a true multimedia project. It has made connections by appearing at these events, including one with Charlie Adlard, best known for his work on The Walking Dead comic. Adlard has contributed artwork to Slaves for Gods, which will be distributed by Hermes Press.

Hartsell works in the postproduction world, while Silvers and Godi work freelance jobs. They put all their available money into These Machines Are Winning.

“We’re not stopping, so at some point if it actually sustains itself and we could just do this, that’s the dream,” Hartsell says. “That’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking at sustaining and growing.”

On their new albums, they brought in a long list of collaborators — including Dave Christensen, Matt Pittman, Casey Diiorio and Kevin Howard — and they mostly continue with their '80s sound.

But Teenage LSD, credited to the fake band Sunshine Village, is a curveball. It's billed as an alternate-universe Beach Boys, and the whole album was cut live with the help of local musicians Tim Delaughter, Brandon Carr and Becki Howard, plus various members of the Polyphonic Spree and Leon Bridges’ band.

The only way you can physically buy the music is by buying the comics first. If you want all three albums, you have to buy the box set. And only 100 box sets will be made. While people can cry foul about that, the group has put all these measures in place to ensure all its projects get equal attention.

The group is serious about being known for more than music, as is clear by the nice paper it's using and hardcover editions it's putting out. By late summer, more videos will arrive, too.

Silvers hopes to perform Teenage LSD as Sunshine Village this summer. The group promises there are more music and more comics to come. With Slaves for Gods not even out yet, These Machines Are Winning is already ready to move on to the next chapter.

These Machines Are Winning, with Zhora, 9 p.m. Saturday, May 27, Double Wide, 3510 Commerce St., $10, see Facebook.

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