The Automatic

The Automatic spent 6 months trying to escape that massive single "Monster" so much that it was deleted from a physical release. On the eve of their next single "Raoul" being release "Monster" shot up the charts under new download rules that allowed singles without a physical release to re-enter the Top 40. If the band we're themselves shouting "Damn, if it wasn't for those Pesky Kids" Scooby Doo style then the rest of the nation was. Alex McCann caught up with the Automatic's drummer Iwan Griffiths to discuss fronting up to the Horrors on the NME Tour, that new as untitled secret single and how they may be touring with one of America's biggest emo bands later in the year.

Q: The Automatic were one of the few bands to benefit from the new chart rules to include downloads in the chart without a physical release. Surprised?
A: I suppose you could call it that (laughs). Monster went back in the Top 40 and it's kinda cool, but we've got "Raoul" coming out again this week so its been a case of is this a good thing or a bad thing. Because we've got this new single coming out even though it's a re-release so I thing people are worried that Monster might still overshadow it.

I didn't expect it at all cos I knew these rules were coming in that old songs could get back in the charts, but when people said old songs I immediately thought songs from the 70s getting in the Top 10 and stuff. Its cool but I didn't think Monster would be there as well. The other two were Snow Patrol and Gnarls Barkley so that we got in there is testament to the fact it's a good song. Personally I thought people would be bored of it by now, but obviously not...

Q: Is this Raoul's second or third re-release now?
A: It's the second but it's the record company. It's not something us as a band wanted to do, but the radio were begging for us to re-release it again. Basically we had radio stations begging us saying if you release this song we'll play it. It's really frustrating for a band to be releasing the same things when all you want to do is put out new stuff and get people to listening to your other music.

Q: It is like, what, 12 months since you first started touring and releasing properly
A: Yeah, so people are gonna start thinking we've got 3 songs when in fact we've got a lot more to us than 3 songs when in fact we've got a lot more to us than just these songs. Its frustrating but I guess its worth it because the album has gone back up in the charts.

Q: How hard is it to escape a song like Monster or Raoul if people still want to listen to it
A: Its strange because you think you're safe or you're away from it. You can be at home in your local pub and it will come on the jukebox - its like oh god. I don't hate the song and i'm still really proud of it, but sometimes you just try to get away from it.

Q: The one thing about the Automatic is that the songs are bigger than the band
A: Monster definitely is just this song that's out there and it could have nothing to do with us to be honest. It's just out there doing it's thing. It's frustrating that people may know the song but not know who's done it. I suppose in our own way it's also our own fault because we're not present in the artwork so there's nothing to associate us with it. Our video we dress up as different people and we've drawn ourselves out of it. It's cool though because we can have some kind of success without necessarily being hassled alot.

We did out first cover shoot recently for Play Music and they wanted us to wear leathers so we looked gay. Not to be offensive but we all just look a bit weird. For us we'd rather build a solid fanbase than quickly get some fans that are there for a little while. We want our fans to be with us for the next album and the album after that hopefully.

Q: How do you see the sound moving on for the next album?
A: I think we're getting a bit more of a harder edge. Even though we're quite heavy live I don't think on the last album it came across so much. It got produced and it got pop-ified basically. We thought if we make it heavier again still, even if they try and pop-ify it you can't stop it sounding heavy. So slightly heavier and a slightly sparser sound that sounds like the instruments are meant to sound rather than sounding affected by the studio.

With a lot of bands they'll be just that one person that writes and takes it in and goes we're playing this. But us as a band we just go in a room and play together, just jam and play and play and things come out of that. If something sounds cool we just keep playing it and it comes together randomly. We work better under pressure cos then we feel we need to do something, otherwise we're just left noodling for ages.

Q: Where does that pop influence come from cos you do listen to quite abstract and leftfield bands such as Jarcrew or Mclusky?
A: Those bands are massive influences on us especially Jarcrew. Me, Frost and Rob went to see them when Electric Six were big and Jarcrew were supporting. It was just this an amazing show and it was absolutely intense and the music was incredible. From that moment we really got into them. We didn't know Pennie at that point but we were starting to get really into that before he came along and i've only just started getting into Mclusky recently because they'd split up before we formed. Now they've got Future Of Left which is Kelson from Jarcrew and Falco from Mclusky

It's that scene in Cardiff that still hasn't broken out into the mainstream which I wish it would because a lot of people only know Wales for Bullet For My Valentine, Funeral For A Friend and Lostprophets...and us now I guess. It would be nice if people saw that different indie scene.

Q: I guess one of the big questions is why are you doing the NME tour cos you've sold out all these venues in your own right last year?
A: Its cos its the NME Tour I guess and you can't really say no to it. We did all the venues in October so we know all the venues are going to be cool and with Manchester every tour we've been on we play one of the Academy's. With Academy 1 we're doing two nights there and when we did there last time it was one of the best gigs of our tour. And our very first tour that we did with the Ordinary Boy's it was our first date in Manchester so we've got a lot of memories there in the Academy buildings. I think in Manchester we've done Academy 3 with the Kooks and then the Academy 2 on the other NME tour with Boy Kill Boy.

Q: And how you looking forward to sharing the tour with your verbal sparring partners The Horrors?
A: The whole Horrors thing was built around an interview we did with NME which was forcing us to say something about the Horrors. The music's not any of our things and we'd heard all of these stories about them so we just said what we'd heard. Then it gets translated into this big feud thing of "I Hate The Horrors" but we're not going to slate them as guys yet...

Q: Yet?
A: We'll meet them first and then if they're right arseholes. You know that whole thing they had with the Fratellis as well. We know the Fratellis and they're nice guys so maybe you think maybe the Horrors are just annoying. I really cant imagine though going on tour with a band and not getting on. It would just make the whole thing unbearable. On the last NME tour everyone was getting on and we'd meet up and everyday would just be a party. Personally I want it to be like that.

Mumm-ra supported us last year and we did a gig with the View in Ibiza Rocks in the Summer. They're really cool guys so it would be good to hang out with them as you meet a lot of friends on these tours.  Hopefully it wont end up with the three bands versus the Horrors.

Q: What's gonna be the anthem of the tour - Monster of Waster Little DJs?
A: It'll probably be equal heading level by the never know though it could be something totally unexpected like Sheena Is A Parasite

Q: And plans for the 2007?
A: We've recorded some tracks over Christmas which we're hopefully gonna use for a stand alone single after the NME tour. It's a completely new track that's not on the album and it's so new it hasn't got a title, it hasn't even got a working title yet. At the moment you can see bits of the old stuff in it but you can see where the next albums going with it - this is the transition single.

We've held out on America for a bit so when we go out this year we're gonna go for a while and do it properly. We're gonna do what American bands do which is tour America, not just play New York and LA which is what a lot of British bands have done in the past and they don't succeed. You need to be playing to the people of Oklahoma as well as the trendy people of New York. As a British indie band we're not particularly British sounding and a lot of people have thought we're American before. Arctic Monkeys haven't done particularly well out there and I think it's cos American's don't get British accent and humour but as a band we're influenced a lot more by American bands than we are by British bands. And those British bands like Jarcrew and Mclusky we're influenced by American bands before them.

When we go out to do SXSW are management are getting us booked onto a US tour and our management are looking into us touring with My Chemical Romance.

The Automatic are on the NME tour with most dates sold out
For more info on the band

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Designer Magazine has just managed to lay its hand on a pair of tickets for the sold out Manchester Academy date of the NME Rock tour on Sunday 4th Feb featuring the Automatic, The View, The Horrors and Mumm-ra.

To enter simply sign up to the Designer Magazine Emailing List here (note: only one entry per household and / or email address) and in the body of your email complete the following sentence.

" is better than the NME because....."

The Closing date and time is 1pm GMT on Saturday February 3rd and the best answer that Designer Magazine's Editor Alex McCann picks out of the email wins the pair of the tickets.

NOTE: Because this is last minute winners will need to be able to meet our Editor on the Saturday Night (Feb 3rd) at 7pm outside the Manchester Academy or pick up the tickets on Sunday Daytime from the Designer Magazine offices in Altrincham, South Manchester.

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