AutoluxInterviewer: Peter Wenker
Autolux formed in Los Angeles in 1999 when founding members Carla Azar and Eugene Goreshter made nice while scoring a Noble Prize winner's play, Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist to be precise. We've never seen the play. Theater is boring. But we soon realized that the end result of this serendipitous exchange, the band's slept on Future Perfect LP, is as fine a shoegazing retroplosion (borrowing without shame from Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine) than a lesson in patience and determination (Azar severely broke her elbow falling off a stage after opening for Elvis Costello. Three years and 8 titanium pins later the band is as strong as ever). Recently we caught up with Sir Goreshter to discuss the band's boss, Blues legend T-Bone Burnett, Silver Lake stylee and the group's bitter feud with The Raveonettes*
* Completely made up by the interviewer and instantly shot down.
twenty/forty: With most bands looking to Gang of Four and new wave bands for material, you guys seem to borrow some of the better elements of the early '90s like Jawbox? Is that accurate at all, I mean, who were you listening to during your formative days?
Eugene Goreshter: I've never thought of our sound as early '90s. I think of Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine as more '80s, than early '90s, but we've never limited ourselves to a time period for influences. They range the entire century, from jazz to blues to German, '70s, Kraftwerk, Beatles and Brian Eno. There's just really tons of stuff. Basically, it's anything that has a timeless quality and transcends an era, that’s our main reference point. We never really wanted to be a part of any genre.
t/f: Do you mind being compared to other bands?
EG: Definitely not, because they're all bands you can't ignore. You can't do guitar music that's that isn't metal and not be compared to these bands. No, it doesn't bother us. But it would bother me if we were compared to bands that make you cringe. Our music is basically a reference point, or an agglomeration of points that we've listened to over the years, but we've never had a conversation of what to sound like. In any band's gestation period or their formative years, the time you’re figuring out your sound, influences are gonna come in naturally. They come from your subconscious.
t/f: Some of my favorite moments on Future Perfect are the "oooo oooo's" on "Blanket," the "sh sheee sheeee's" on "Turnstile Blues," and the "doo doo doo doo's" on "Angry Candy." I'm just wondering how you decide to add the little things like this in a song?
EG: When we were playing live all the time, we made an EP in our rehearsal space 3-4 years ago. We were a live band first, and those songs were fleshed out before the recording. We’d write them or work on them by playing live and they took shape show after show. So for the record we were trying to make it so we wouldn't get bored with the songs. We wanted non-typical songs, so those sounds came from us fucking around with things until we were happy the way they came out.
t/f: How did you end of getting on the Coen Brothers record label DMZ? Is it weird to be on the same label as the Oh Brother Soundtrack and the Buena Vista Social Club?
EG: It's T-Bone Burnett's label as well, the Coen brothers are just partners so they can use it as a vehicle for their soundtracks.
t/f: So how do you fit in?
EG: Well, it's part of Columbia, but it’s not really a label, it's just T-Bone running it, but it gets its resources from the main frame. T-Bone is our buffer that allows us to do whatever we want. It's actually great because we can actually get tour support and get the record in stores along with the luxury to have a record we want. It's been great being the only "band." In fact, that's what stood out about it at first. We're into doing things different, so this is in trajectory with everything we’ve done up to this point.
t/f: So, how much control do you have over your "image"?
EG: We have control over everything. T-Bone's own music is really great. He's a unique legend and from the beginning he wanted a label that defied any sort of categorization. We were surprised as anyone that he wanted to sign us.
t/f: Cool, so why the space theme?
EG: It's not a space thing, unless by space you mean an external or internal space as well. It's any kind of space, but nothing to do with space. The album art is not really anything, it’s just a cluster of light bulbs.
t/f: I can't help but think of 2001: Space Odyssey.
EG: It comes more from the art being abstract. It leads people to interpret it as different things. We're happy about that, that's what we want.
t/f: What are the mini-movies on the website? I watched them late last night after being in the library for 10+ hours and I kinda wanted to smash my computer?
EG: We made those ourselves as part of our press kit.
t/f: You've toured with some big names, The Breeders, Clinic, Broadcast and Blonde Redhead. Any favorites so far, or bands you’d like to tour with?
EG: Those were all actually just single shows. This is our first real big tour. Yeah, we’ve done shows with the White Stripes, Blonde Redhead, but this is our first proper tour. We’ve been blessed to play with those bands it’s been great to play with bands you really respect.
t/f: Have you ever thought about competing with the Raveonettes to see who can create the most feedback?
EG: I haven't heard their records at all, but I heard their new record is mellow stuff.
t/f: Well, it's very pop, but some of their songs are pretty noise intensive.
EG: I don't know, maybe that’ll come. But I guess it’s not about war, but feedback diplomacy.
t/f: I asked this question to a couple of other LA bands, but I think it’s still relevant. Do you feel like you’re working from a deficit at all, being from LA and not say New York?
EG: Absolutely not. Cool or hip, whatever that means, is such a fleeting momentary lapse. I dunno, it’s not something that we even think about. Whatever is hip/trendy is not gonna be that way next year. You know, it’s like it’s decided that now the cool city will be Madison, Wisconsin there’s no rhyme or reason. Those concerns are way more in tune with people who like flowing and not those who want to be pioneers and be different. We’re just trying to do music we love, and there’s no emotional attachment to LA or from any scene. We just want to do whatever we want to do, and if we don’t fit into any scene, there’s no shame or embarrassment in that. People have the most ridiculously twisted versions of what LA is, with Hollywood only really 10% of what the city represents. Personally I think L.A., as far as neighborhoods, out does most other cities in terms of finding a low key place to be. There are more neighborhoods that are geared towards art. Most cities have that, but really New York has that less because the neighborhoods in New York are becoming so gentrified, and the artists are moving from NYC because of the high rent. You can’t have artists with places the size of a toilet. So a lot of people are moving to Brooklyn, or out to East LA, Silver Lake or Echo Park because it’s getting impossible to sustain an art life. LA is pretty artist friendly place to live. People just have to dig past the surface, every city has a surface and there’s stuff that eludes the whole tourist contingent.
t/f: Since you're from California and all, when are you going to play that club on the OC? The Peach Pit or whatever it’s called?
EG: I dunno. People keep talking about that show, I don’t watch T.V. so I don’t have any idea what that show’s about, I don’t know, we’re probably not on the list. But it doesn’t sound like something we’d ever do.
Photo by Dan Monick. Thanks to Jen Appel at Press Here Publicity.