Melbourne-based alternative, metal rockers Figures have delivered the first taste of their first full-length record with ‘Underpaid Machinery’, a tense, progressive and politically-charged track drawing sonic influence from the likes of Deftones, Tool, The Cure and Smashing Pumpkins.
Championed by blistering riffs, soaring melodies and heavy rock instrumentation with a peppering of prog, ‘Underpaid Machinery’ explores the theft of working citizen’s wages via underpayment from corporate employers, spawned from a moment of rage and a time of change.
“The song was born out of frustration at the highest level,” explains guitarist Paul Callow.
“I had just recently got my home recording set up but I was still very much trying to get my head around everything. I had just moved into our new house; I didn’t have any drum programs which was annoying me so I went into GarageBand and set up a drum pattern that wasn’t too far off what the actual drums are in the song.
“There was also someone in my life at the time who had such a negative impact on me and that was really starting to get to me,” he continues, “so from those two frustrations everything pretty much just flowed out and it was one of those songs that wrote itself. It came from extreme anger and frustration.”
“Usually one of us will bring an idea to the group, we’ll all write our parts to it and experiment with different song structures,” guitarist Josh Gibson says of their songwriting process.
“Paul brought in ‘Underpaid Machinery’ and we all loved it, all the parts were there from the start, including the claps. All we did was change the structure, Mark added his vocals and it was pretty much done!”
A powerful opening statement in this new chapter, the fresh release signals a slight shift in sound for Figures, taking it to the next level with brutal guitar riffs, powerful vocals, and heavy percussion.
“The shift in sound was very deliberate,” Paul says. “We love the “clean prog” sound that is in vogue now but when we play live we are not that style at all and we are loud and a little rough around the edges so we wanted to bring that “live” feel to this recording and I think we have been able to make that happen.
“We had chatted about how A.I. was going to slowly take over the world etc. so we wanted to bring that feeling of uncertainty, anger and frustration to the sound.”
After six years, two EPs, one single and a commanding presence in the Melbourne live music scene, the upcoming debut album, Operating in Unsafe Mode – which Josh reveals is a fusion of heavy guitars, soaring vocals and brutal screams – has been a long time in the works for the five-piece, being their first release since their EP Chronos back in 2017.
“There were a lot of factors,” Paul says of the gap between releases. “The return of Josh in the lineup and him finding his feet again; my wife and I having our second child; money was also a huge factor in this recording; COVID19 happened and then add in the usual or not so usual band issues and that’s why it took a while longer.
“Recording this album was hard on us as a band as a lot was going on behind the scenes and I’m very thankful that we came out of it in such a more positive way than what could have happened.
“Over the last six years we have learnt so much and I’m super glad that we are where we are now as a unit.”
Exploring themes of dehumanisation, isolation and oppression, all through the idea of mass media influence and manipulation, Operating in Unsafe Mode is slated to position Figures amongst some of the biggest names in the Australian metal music scene.
Release: Operating in Unsafe Mode is out July 17th. You can pre-order it now and listen to ‘Underpaid Machinery’ in the meantime.