Secret Machines on their long-awaited return with new album ‘Awake In The Brain Chamber’: “After my brother’s death I was sure that I was done writing songs”

Brandon Curtis speaks to NME about the band's long-awaited return from hiatus and the death of his brother Benjamin

Secret Machines have returned with first new music in over a decade. Check out ‘Talos’ Corpse’ below, along with our interview with frontman Brandon Curtis.

The cult space-rock band band released three albums together before they split in 2010, a period in which they found fans in the likes of David Bowie, Muse and U2 as well as attracting much critical acclaim.

After sparking plenty of speculation when they uploaded a series of cryptic symbols to their long-dormant social media accounts, the band have now announced news of their first album since their self-titled 2008 record. ‘Awake In The Brain Chamber’ will be released this August via TSM Recordings.


“It’s been about a dozen years since we last released an album,” the band’s Brandon Curtis told NME. “We did make another record shortly after the self-titled release, but we shelved it.”


By the time they shelved that planned record, to be titled ‘The Moth, The Lizard and The Secret Machines’ Brandon’s brother Benjamin had left the band in 2007 to focus on his other project School Of Seven Bells, drummer Josh Garza was in LA, while New York-based Brandon had joined Interpol as their touring keyboard player – but he was constantly writing.

“Secret Machines was just not a priority,” said Brandon. “I guess that is just what feels natural to me. Of course, as the songs came together I would share the demos with Benjamin to get some feedback. He was always very encouraging to me and his notes helped me shape the material from the ground up.”

By 2012 the songs were recorded as demos, with Benjamin contributing guitar to one track, but then in January 2013, Benjamin was diagnosed with T-cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma.


“At the time, this was just a temporary interruption in our lives,” said Brandon. “He was writing a record with School Of Seven Bells and not even cancer could stop him from doing that work. In between his recording sessions, hospitalisations, and chemo, he attended the mix sessions for my record.”

Secret Machines
Secret Machines pictured in 2006 CREDIT: Desiree Navarro/FilmMagic/Getty

Benjamin died on December 29, 2013, aged just 35. “I was pretty sure that I was done writing songs,” Brandon told NME. “I still had the Interpol gig and that was going to be more than enough music work in my life.”

Those songs he’d written and recorded with the help of his brother still remained, however, and with the encouragement of family and friends he set up a new band, Cosmicide, to play them live. They in fact released their own version of ‘Talos’ Corpse’ back in 2016.

One night, at a show in New York City, Garza was in the crowd to watch Cosmicide play. The band had been incorporating ‘Alone, Jealous And Stoned’, a track from the second Secret Machines album ‘Ten Silver Drops’. “I thought it would be a hoot if he joined us onstage and played the song for old time’s sake!”

That reunion led to a second blossoming of the duo’s creative partnership. “It was wonderful playing with ‘the beatkeeper’ again and we got to talking,” said Brandon. “We ended up taking some of the songs I had been doing as Cosmicide and several more and reworked them as Secret Machines songs.”

Still living on opposite US coasts, “touring was always going to be difficult,” and the process was slow, but eventually Secret Machines finally re-emerged with their long, long-awaited fourth LP, a record that they say reflects the darkness and grief of their last decade, as well as their reignition.

Secret Machines release ‘Awake In The Brain Chamber’ on August 21. See the artwork and tracklist for the album below.

1. ‘3,4,5, Let’s Stay Alive’
2. ‘Dreaming is Alright’
3. ‘Talos’ Corpse’
4. ‘Everything’s Under’
5. ‘Everything Starts’
6. ‘Angel Come’
7. ‘A New Disaster’
8. ‘So Far Down’