TAS In Session: Autolux
Los Angeles' moody post-rockers Autolux took their time recording the followup to their 2004 debut Future Perfect, thwarted by record label issues that set them back several years. Happily, the band finally connected with ATP and TBD Records, returning this year with their long-awaited second album, Transit Transit.
The tenebrous, sensuous release was well worth the six year wait and Autolux, who triumphantly toured the States a couple of months ago, will seduce Europe on a brief tour kicking off November 29 in Oslo and eventually landing at the Amos-curated ATP festival in Minehead, England on December 7.
As The Alternate Side's Alisa Ali discovered, vocalist/bassist Eugene Goreshter, guitarist/pianist/vocalist Greg Edwards and drummer/vocalist Carla Azar have never sounded so good, as they ably demonstrated with a taut quartet of songs they performed for us, including "Supertoys" and "Spots." Eugene did hit a slight hitch as they launched into their first song, "The Science of Imaginary Solutions," dropping a pick into the sound hole of his acoustic guitar.
"A small bird just fell out," Goreshter wryly observed as he finally retrieved his pick off the floor after shaking out his guitar like a maraca:
Alisa Ali: Although this is only your second album, you guys have actually been together for over a decade now.
Eugene Goreshter: You don’t have to rub it in.
Alisa: That’s a good thing! Are you feeling self-conscious because I said “only your second album.”
Carla Azar: We’re always self-conscious.
Eugene: No, that’s just want I thought you were implying. That is was ONLY our second album after ten years.
Alisa: No! I was implying that you guys have been together for ten years strong! Quality, not quantity.
Eugene: Hey, that’s where we’re at.
Alisa: So how did you first get together?
Carla: Eugene and I knew each other. We were friends. The first thing we did together was score music for a play. We were playing five nights a week and we decided that we wanted to play music together.
Alisa: What kind of music did you create [for the play]? What did the score sound like?
Carla: It was everything from classical-based to drum machine/electronic, to drum set. Eugene played violin on some things. He’s a violinist as well.
Greg Edwards: They’d invited me, because I’d met them at this point, and they invited me to come see their play. But I never made it.
Alisa: You didn’t go see the play?
Carla: He didn’t make it.
Eugene: It was in the style of Commedia Dell’Arte, where all of the movements on stage are punctuated by sounds so you’ve constantly got to be on your toes for two hours.
Carla: Greg and I had met earlier and I knew I wanted to play with him, so we all fell together pretty naturally.
Alisa: You were all in other bands, separately.
Carla: Yeah, I quite my band and [Eugene’s] band broke up at the same time and it just worked out. My band never really went anywhere, just a thing I did for a couple of years, and I toured with Greg’s band Failure. That’s how I met him.
Alisa: Greg, what was Failure like?
Greg: It was my first band, I was really young, couldn’t even drink when the band started.
Eugene: He couldn’t even walk. He was three.
Greg: I couldn’t drink; I could barely walk. At that point I was happy with what we did.
Alisa: Do you feel embarrassed about your early songs? Do you ever bust them out?
Greg: No, I never bust them out. There are some things that have longevity for me and other things I never need to listen to again.
Alisa: So the band put out an EP back in 2001 called Demonstration that caught the attention of T-Bone Burnett. Did he see you while you were performing and come up to you after a show?
Carla: I’d known T-Bone. I’d invited him to the show. Actually, he invited himself; I didn’t want him to come.
Alisa: Why not? Carla: I was nervous. But he loved the band. He came to the show. There were about eight people in the audience. He was one of them, but he’s so tall, it’s like having two people.
Eugene: T-Bone is like having eight people in itself. So there were sixteen people there.
Carla: He immediately loved the band.
Alisa: Were you surprised he wanted to work with you?
Carla: No. I was still nervous because he’s very picky. He said, “I’m starting a label, I want to sign you guys.”
Greg: Yeah, he said “I’m starting a label. My first artist is Ralph Stanley.”
Alisa: Ralph Stanley? And yes, I think you guys fit perfectly with Ralph Stanley.
Carla: With T-Bone, the whole thing is just good music.
Alisa: He went into that label with the Coen brothers. Are you Coen brothers fans?
Carla: Yeah, we’re fans. Alisa: What’s your favorite movie of theirs?
Eugene and Carla: “Raising Arizona”
Greg: That’s a hard question.
Alisa: I’m a "The Big Lebowski" fan.
Greg: "The Big Lebowski" just continues to grow.
Alisa: Since you’re from LA, is film a big part of who you are? Are a lot of your friends in film and television? You’re in Silver Lake, right?
Carla: Eugene is.
Eugene: You guys all moved out.
Carla: It’s all about K-town.
Eugene: Koreatown. Carla had enough of Silver Lake.
Carla: I never lived in Silver Lake.
Greg: A lot of people, obviously, work in the industry there. We all love film, but I don’t think that inspires us. If anything, it’s a hurdle because that can turn you off of the idea of film, being around so many people who work in the industry.
Alisa: What’s wrong with Silver Lake?
Eugene: There’s nothing wrong with it.
Carla: It used to be great fifteen years ago.
Eugene: It’s a little touristy now.
Greg: I think it’s the whole idea of the Silver Lake scene that’s in the press for a few years now. At least for us, living there, it seems like a complete fabrication. It creates this alternate identity to the actual place that everybody else believes everywhere else in the country and I think it becomes a little annoying.
Alisa: You recorded the album in your rehearsal space 23? That must have been pretty cool to work in your own space instead of somewhere big and fancy. Unless your studio is big and fancy?
Carla: It’s small and fancy. There’s a postcard of Alfred Hitchcock nailed to the wall by the board.
Greg: With a crow on his shoulder.
Carla: It’s pretty intimate.
Greg: And dark.
Alisa: Feng shui?
Greg: It breaks every rule of feng shui.
Alisa: Are there any drawbacks [to working in your own space]?
Eugene: A lot of drawbacks.
Carla: It’s one room so when you’re getting sound, you’re not in a separate room hearing the sounds; the snare drum is in the same room. And trying to get sounds in headphones as opposed to speakers.
Greg: It’s not an ideal acoustic environment. It’s not a nice-sounding room. A lot of our process has to do with battling the screwed-up acoustics in our rehearsal space. And sometimes in that battle, you end up with something interesting because of it.
Carla: When technical problems happen, we have to fix them and still have to be creative.
Greg: Carla probably has the best natural inclination to figure technical things out.
Carla: I do? Greg: For me, it’s out of necessity. We know what we want to do and what we’d like to get at musically; that just necessitates certain technical things and we figure out how to do it.
Eugene: We’ve done everything the wrong way and somehow it comes out right.
Greg: There’s certain kinds of overdubs and experimentation where it’s great to be in your own space. But there’s also something nice about being in a studio because of the acoustic environment and also, there’s more of a performance aspect.
Eugene: As far as technically live, we use all of gear in all the wrong ways to get the sound we want. If we used them the right way, we probably wouldn’t get the sound that we do.