Victor Made A Time Machine is an alternative rock band from Long Island, New York. Their impressive self-titled debut album was produced in the Summer 2010 at the famed Killingsworth Studios in Los Angeles. The roster of talented producers at Killingsworth have earned their reputation by working on a number of major releases for bands like Taking Back Sunday, The Used, Stone Temple Pilots and many others. For the recording of Victor Made a Time Machine, the band worked with producer Tom Costanza, whose clients include Columbia, Epic and Hollywood Records.
“Tomas is inspirational,” confessed Victor Made A Time Machine singer/guitarist, Ray Mazza, as we talked on the phone about the experience of recording the band’s first album. “He was able to shape and direct our sound and transform it from an idea that was on its way, to a polished, professional recording.”
With a skillfully crafted, 10-song album ready to go, Victor Made A Time Machine is taking the DIY approach to success and self-releasing the record right before setting off on a Spring and Summer national tour.
“We’re really happy with the way the record turned out and we want the world to hear it. As of now, we have some interest from a couple of labels, but nothing has been finalized. Rather than wait for these pieces to fall into place, we’re pressing a few hundred CDs and are going on the road to support the record.”
As we discussed the music and artwork planned for the limited release, the excitement in Ray’s voice became telling of his passion for the project.
“We’ve worked very hard for the past three years to develop our sound, and this record is a result of all the effort we’ve put in during that time. I’m looking forward to playing it live in front of as many people as possible.”
From Copenhagen to New York
Victor Made A Time Machine is a project with humble origins dating back to 2005 when Ray was living in the Copenhagen, Denmark.
“In Copenhagen,” Ray explained, “the winters are bitter cold and last from November until late April. There is only about seven to eight hours of sunlight per day.”
After arriving in 2005 on a ‘vacation trip to visit a friend,’ Ray ended up staying for three years after his friend, Latifa Mazza, became his girlfriend and now wife. During his time in the Danish capital, Ray, like other locals, preferred to stay indoors for the long winter nights.
“People sort of shut down and settle in at home after dark, so we would do the same. I learned to play guitar and wrote some of my first songs over those three years. Before that, I’d spent my teens and early 20s playing the drums in different bands.
But after three years of weathering the Copenhagen winters working on his singing and guitar playing, Ray decided it was time to head back to the States, and along with Latifa, returned to New York in 2008 with aspirations of forming a new band.
“I grew up in Long Island, so when we came back I was really itching to play and started calling friends in order to find people to jam with. To be honest, there were many lineup changes early on, but overtime (bassist) Vinny Doucette and I stuck it out together, playing gigs under different band names for a couple of years with different drummers and guitarists filling in.”
In 2010, the band solidified its lineup with the addition of hard-hitting drummer and New Jersey native, Craig Otto.
“As a drummer, for me, it was vital to find someone like Craig who can really hold his own,” explained Ray as we continued our telephone conversation. “Once he came on board, things started coming together quickly for us. We wrote a lot of songs and started putting them to the test right away.”
With Ray, Vincent and Craig forming the core lineup, the band started making the rounds in the New York scene during the first half of 2010.
“The scene in New York is my favorite. I love taking the stage in New York because people always seem up for getting drunk and having a good time. It’s a one-of-a-kind vibe.”
Not that Ray and the band mind taking to the road. After a string of successful performances in the city, the boys headed south, performing at The Cave in Chapel Hill, and Newby’s in Memphis, before heading out to gigs in Austin, Houston and Dallas.
Road to Los Angeles
In June 2010, shortly after returning to New York City from their tour, the band set off for Los Angeles to record their debut album. Once there, they made the obligatory visit to the landmark Venice Beach, where they met a homeless man that would prove an unlikely source of inspiration for the band.
“The guys and I were walking along the sidewalk near the beach taking in the scene when a homeless guy named Vic randomly began talking to us. He started to go on about how he wished he could relive the memories of how he had partied in years past. He told us we should also party like he did back when. I nodded in approval and smiled as he slowly let us walk away after a few minutes of talking.”
“We went to a local bar after the beach to have some drinks. Vinny, Craig and I drank some pints and started talking about Vic, and how he was going to build a time machine to relive the memories of his partying. We called him Victor instead, and after that night the concept stuck. We had been considering a name change for the band to go with the album, so we settled on Victor Made A Time Machine as our name.”
With a refreshed identity, the band soon setup shop with Tom Costanza at Killingsworth Studios, playing nearly 40 songs for him so he could advise on which ones to record.
“He picked our songs apart, and the five that made the cut formed the foundation for the album. He pushed us to write more.”
The band was up for the challenge, seizing the opportunity to compose music and lyrics for five new songs to complete the album.
“We trusted Tom’s vision, so it became a very creative process once we got to understand his workflow. The band really came together as musicians because of the experience of making the album with him. He also contributed backing vocals and keys throughout the record, which was amazing since we’re fans of his work as a member of the band Diffuser.”
Victor Made A Time Machine For 2011
The sound of Victor Made A Time Machine may best be described as a well-balanced mixture of modern rock and alternative, with textured melodies and catchy chorus hooks to match. Songs like “Raging Through The Night,” “Rain Or Shine” and “Queen Of Broken Hearts” stand out as some of the band’s most hard rock-driven material.
“Craig and I put together “Raging through the Night” in the spirit of partying for Vic and his time machine. It’s a song about crazy New Year’s Eve like chaos. We also worked on “Queen Of Broken Hearts” together, writing lyrics and music for it within a matter of days. One of my favorite tunes on the album is “Rain or Shine.” I love the lyrics about driving for days and through the nights just to be with the one you want to be with.” “Hey Sofie” is also a song I really enjoy; its about my 2-year-old daughter.”
Blending nicely with these songs are more alternative, melancholy tunes like “Long Long Time” and “Second Hundred Days,” which bring cellos, keyboards and synths into the mix, adding depth to an album replete with memorable, modern rock songs ripe for an international audience.
After completing recording, the band headed back to New York to play gigs at places like Trash Bar in Willamsburg and Arlene’s Grocery in the East Village, among others. During this time, Christoph Hovanec was recruited to play keyboards, enabling the band to fully recreate the songs on the album in a live setting.
“Adding Chris to the band last July and Jim Carpenter as lead guitarist in November added so much depth to our live sound.”
For 2011, the band is already booked to play in the city at The Local 269, Ace of Clubs and Sullivan Hall for February and March.
“After the limited release of the album around April or May, we’re going to tour regionally, starting out in places like Philly and Boston. We’re also going to go to Canada for some shows before returning to the States to go back to places like Memphis, Austin and North Carolina, along with a dozen or so other cities along the way.”
As Ray and I wrapped up our conversation, the talk turned to football when a “six degrees of separation” connection was unexpectedly made between the band and former NFL pro-quarterback Brett Favre.
“Gillette licensed the song “Monday Is The New Sunday” from our album to use for one of their commercials and Brett Favre was casted as the star. But because of the allegations of sexual harassment later made against him they canned the commercial, so our song was not used.”
Despite the lost opportunity, with the forthcoming release of their debut album and a supporting tour on the horizon for Spring 2011, Ray and Victor Made A Time Machine have plenty to be hopeful about.
“I hear Favre is actually retiring now, so maybe we’ll have a shot at something else with Gillette in the future”.
Victor Made A Time Machine will be performing at Sullivan Hall Wednesday Feb. 9 and Fat Baby NYC Feb. 26. More info at myspace.com/victormadeatimemachine.