The lucid and lively Liverpool based four piece; Automation have shared the stage with another mysterious mixed gender band The Fiery Furnaces, and look set to follow them into the limelight. Their proud and by all accounts; inadvertent 70s sound and on stage chemistry makes them a captivating band who seem to have it all; cogent lyrics, catchy tunes and they are altogether bolder than the Tamworth two. Members Chris Ward and Zoe Alex kindly take time out give us all a visa and let us into the world of Automation. Their latest single ‘Automation Hatesound’ is available from the band’s distinctive website; link
You have a raw distorted 70s sound, this is epitomized in your stand out song so far; ‘Automation Hate Sound’. Most modern bands with retro inclinations would sell their favourite denim jack for this. Did it take long to garner such a sound and was producing it a natural instinct for you guys?
CW: It's developed over time, and I suppose is now closer to how we want than ever before. But, whilst I appreciate the compliment, the retro tag isn't one that I'd sit comfortably with. There are bands and artists that have had a real impact on us, of course, but we'd never wish to merely emulate what's been before- what would be the point?!
ZA: Not that it seems to stop so many others… There is little planning or inclination to sound retro, just to sound like Automation, 2004.
Describe for the un-initiated the local Liverpool scene and tell us how well do you think that you fit in with it?
CW: It's little like the mainstream music press describes, in my experience at least. Not everyone is sat around singing sea skiffle with their Uncle Kenny, smoking bad weed, thinking “music ended in 1969, la”. And those that are, the rest of us try and ignore. It's varied, but not enough for us to feel we fit in any way.
ZA: It seems that anyone who isn’t in love with the sixties is lumped in together, regardless of their sound or aspirations. That said, for the most part we are happy to associated with other local bands doing something different.
One of your best gigs so far has been your support slot of The Fiery Furnaces back in February at the Liverpool Barfly. How did you enjoy playing with the quirky and raw, US bluesy rockers and did you learn much from them?
CW: It was a very intense gig for us as a band, for reasons best kept to ourselves for now… The atmosphere was really edgy, so it felt like one of those gigs where you just think, “What the hell…” and it's all the better for it.
You’re are a tight and seemingly close knit, mixed gender quartet. Do you fall out much? How do you resolve any creative differences and has the chemistry always been there for you guys or did you have to work at it?
CW: We were friends first, band mates second, which helps. So, even when the atmosphere gets tense (which at times, it does), we know not to take anything too personally. Most of the time, at least… A fag break at certain key points doesn't hurt as well.
ZA: We don’t fall out. Much.
You seem such balanced and happy people on stage. Who or what makes you angry of it (aside from people firing annoying interview questions at you)?
CW: I'm happily -or resignedly- balanced to being pissed off pretty much all of the time. If we seem happy on stage, I can only assume it's cause we're calling the shots.
ZA: That’s it. I spend the better part of my time off stage sullen & annoyed at life.
You have recently released a single; ‘Automation Hate Sound’. How far are you off from releasing a debut album for the deserving music loving public? What can people expect from your debut album, as and when it materializes?
CW: It will be a ridiculous, adorable, hopelessly over-ambitious failure, as all debut albums should be. It would leave someone who'd bought the band's first singles feeling confused, bitter and disappointed on first listen, but in love on the second.
ZA: Like all great debuts.
What music are you currently listening to?
CW: Leonard Cohen, Cluster, Vitalic and The Wild Swans.
ZA: XTC, Wire, The Faint and Mission Of Burma.
Your lyrics at times depict urban life with the accuracy, poetic nature and hint of cynicism of a Philip Larkin. A prime example of this is the first verse of ‘Cash In The City’;
“Battered cities serve as bait,
Shrouded up in sweet smells of energy and fate.
They aim to bite and bite to maim
Practicing their suction on any wild game’
What are the origins of this song?
CW: Living in London, trying to make decisions about what to do, but being too swept up in things to do anything. Violence, sleaze and humour, with a nod and a wink to Walter Greenwood's “Love On The Dole” novel.
On a related topic, do you read or write much poetry?
CW: Read some, certainly. Haven't written since songs got in the way.
ZA: Read quite a bit, the usual culprits mainly.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
CW: More records, more gigs; and the slow, covert poisoning of the Kings Of Leon.
ZA: And Jet.
CW: Oh, goes without saying…
Who is your favourite all time Liverpudian and why?
CW: Tom Baker and/or Leonard Rossiter- Liverpudlians from another planet.
ZA: I second Mr. Rossiter. What a man. Also, Beryl Bainbridge deserves a mention.