With a small but fiercely loyal following, the Autonomics are a band that rocks out with the best of Portland’s local music scene. Upstream Ideas had the opportunity to ask them a few questions about their songs, their tours, and what inspires them to keep it all going.
1. Where did the name Autonomics originate? What does it represent about the band?
“Evan was taking some medical courses before we all dropped out of college. After a little research, we realized that the autonomic nervous system is a part of the central nervous system in the body that is responsible for all the involuntary functions needed for survival; such as breathing, blinking, digestion, and sexual arousal. It operates below the level of consciousness. For us, our best writing and performing has been natural, and not forced. The name has given us the insight that if we have to force something, it probably isn’t going to be that great.”
2. How have you managed to distinguish yourselves in a town the size of Portland, which has a lot of bands trying to cultivate their own sound?
“We haven’t really. Time to hit the road.”
3. What other local bands do you particularly admire? Have any influenced the way you play now?
“One band we’ve been super influenced by has been A Happy Death, an awesome psych-rock band we’ve shared tours with. Some other bands we dig are Adventure Galley (much Bend love to them), Old Age, Bubble Cats, Noble Firs, Brother Elf and Tango Alpha Tango. Their styles and actions in the Portland scene have really rubbed off on us in a positive way. We like the We Shared Milk too, but we shouldn’t jerk them off very much more than we already do…”
4. Is there a very particular experience that you are trying to create for an audience while on stage, or does it vary? How do you want the people watching and listening to feel both at the show when they get home?
“We try to create kind of a loop or cycle of positive feedback, where we give it out to the crowd with what we’re playing and they deliver it back to us. We want people to feel happy and comfortable, much like you would feel on (insert your favorite drug here).”
5. What was the creative process for making and recording the single ‘Revolver?’
“We recorded that song when we were about 19, and have made changes to it since then that have not since been re-recorded. About 95% of songwriting credit goes to Dan on that one, with myself and Vaughn pretty much making it louder. I have it on good authority that the song is about Dan’s dad and that he wasn’t intending it to be an Autos song at first. Look for a new recording in the future.”
6. Can you name a few things that are particularly challenging about making new music, both creatively and financially?
“From a creative standpoint, the difficult thing about writing new material is that the sky is the limit. That can be a help or a hindrance. When we’re trying to tie something together, or finish a song or project, we know we can do anything we want. When you have that knowledge, it’s hard to settle on something that you’re not 100% positive about. There could be something that we’re just not getting, that’s simple and just outside our heads, which might take weeks or months to figure out together. On the financial side, we live in a box. Please send us money.”
7. Do you have a set creative agenda for your next album?
“Well, it might be best to start by explaining the process of making our first album. When we did that last year, we only took a few days to track everything, then we were finished. We basically had 12 songs that we rehearsed, and we just went in and hit the record button, so to speak. The songs and ideas were good, and they were there, but the album doesn’t flow together, because it’s mostly a collection of random songs we liked to play. This time around, we’ll be going in for a longer period of time, with only around 5 or 6 songs written out, that we will then write other songs around. We’ll be going for something that flows together and still stands out as a whole piece, with parts that everyone will enjoy separately. Expect something like that in late 2014 or early 2015.”
8. What can be expected from the Autonomics in the coming months? Is there a plan to tour?
“Yes, we’ll mostly be on the road for about the next year. At the moment we’re working on a two month cycle where we tour for two months, and come home for two months. The first few months of 2014 will be devoted to Texas and the mid-western part of the states.”
9. Where can people find out more about you if they are interested?
“Facebook, Youtube. We won’t insult your intelligence, you know what the Internet is.”