2017 SXSW Showcasing Artist
Artificial Pleasure are a London based three piece formed in early 2016. The band consists of Phil McDonnell (vocals, guitars), Dom Brennan (synths), and Lee Jordan (drums).
Working previously as Night Engine, the band assumed the new name following line-up changes and a renewed focus in their sound. The music has subtly shifted, crystallising into something altogether bolder and tougher.
The tracks find their roots in childhoods spent listening to Atlantic Soul, with an adolescence firmly shaped by the energy of Talking Heads, Iggy Pop, Joy Division, The Velvet Underground and Gary Numan.
Phil and Dom have known each other since primary school, and Phil met Lee through a mutual friend – he didn’t like him at first but needed a drummer so still asked him to join the band.
Phil’s main guitar influences are Wilko Johnson and Gang of Four – his playing is at times frantic, but always simple and melodic. Vocally his style reflects Kevin Rowland’s emotional delivery and the detached vocal sensibilities of David Byrne.
Dom is an electronic music fan inspired by synth legends Bernie Worrell, Jan Hammer, Wendy Carlos and new-wave pioneers Japan and DAF. In recent years he has written scores for theatre productions including ‘The Universal Machine’, a musical about the life of Alan Turing and ‘Down & Out in Paris and London’, both produced by the New Diorama Theatre.
Lee’s drumming is defined by raw energy. Before joining the band, he had only played in jazz, funk and soul groups and it’s this underlying seething power that his playing is based on. He wishes he was a cross between Art Blakey and Pat Mahoney.
The writing tends to start from Phil working in his room on his Zoom MRS-8 8 track. Riffs are played over and over whilst Phil improvises vocal melodies and lines, often these improvised lines stick and become the subject of the song. Other songs are written without any instruments in sight, songs are started and finished in Phil’s head whilst out and about.
There is a strong DIY work ethic – most Artificial Pleasure tracks are self-mixed and self-produced – Phil and Dom generally work together on arrangements, with Dom’s self-taught engineering driving the final sound.
All of the songs are written with live performance in mind – the raw energy they exert is unlike that of other bands around today; no tricks or gimmicks, just pure adrenaline. To fully appreciate Artificial Pleasure they must be seen live.