“We play classic rock brought into the modern age,” says Michael Collins, the drummer of the Salt Lake City–based Spirit Machines. Composed of Dave Crespo (guitar), Sergio Marticorena (bass), Pepper Rose (vocals) and Collins, Spirit Machines crafts its image from the likes of classic rock bands such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. “Our music features a lot of heavy drums, guitar and bass, but the vocals they’re heavy and significant,” says Collins. “[Rose] has a nice voice, and we get a lot of people telling us how they don’t expect our music to make sense, but it all sounds good together.” Apart from reviving the spirit of classic rock, the band also sets itself apart with Collin’s keen eye for marketing and advertising.
Growing up, Collins was very unsure of what life had in store for him. “I didn’t really know what was going on or why I had the life I had,” says Collins. This all changed when he took a visit to his cousin’s house and saw Guns N’ Roses on VH1’s Behind the Music. “I realized that these old, classic-rock bands—that I thought were just old people—at a certain time, were my age and crushing it,” says Collins. Seeing the impact Guns N’ Roses had on their audiences was a huge inspiration. Having played with several groups in high school, Collins discovered that his bands, while playing well, were struggling to captivate an audience. This sparked a 10-year journey where Collins studied around the world, learning from all kinds of business leaders.
Now armed with a plethora of marketing experience, Collins returned to Salt Lake to reform his high-school band.“I basically found myself without a band, and that was pretty much my social circle. I had all this knowledge, but nothing to do with it,” says Collins. Feeling somewhat deflated, Collins began playing open mics at bars around the city. It was at these sessions where he became acquainted with Crespo, who suggested the two should jam.
Finding a shared, electric chemistry, the two eventually joined forces with Rose and Marticorena to fill out the rest of the band. “When we all got in the room, it clicked,” says Collins. “We all like each other’s personalities and we all complement each other musically. It really is a group of four, life-long musicians coming together and doing what they always wanted to do.” Approaching the creation of their music with a vicious appetite, the group churned out their first record, Feel Again, within a couple of months.
Shortly after the album release, the band picked up a huge following when a mashup they did of Tool’s “Sober” and Zeppelin’s “Cashmere” was shared by Tool on Instagram. This new following helped Collins and the rest of the band identify exactly who they were appealing to: “these people that love rock music, but haven’t heard new rock they liked for decades,” says Collins. The story of getting the attention of Tool eventually made its way around several publications, resulting with an article in American Songwriter. “When I was 18 or 19, if you told me I was playing in a rock band that appealed to a bunch of boomers, then I would probably not be super happy about that,” says Collins. “But now, I just care that the music we’re making is having that kind of effect on people who know what good music is.”