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The Comedy of Errors

The Automatic

1 February 07 interview: Michelle Bayton

"During our radio show we were trying to describe what Fugee rock is and we described it as a psychedelic Battenberg cake"

Busy with the second of their re-releases, Cardiff four-piece rock and roll outfit the Automatic are set for another jam packed year. They’re currently being plugged heavily in music magazines, radio and even on prime-time TV. We caught up with lead singer Rob Hawkins and embarked on an insightful journey into real life monsters, psychedelic Battenberg and the bands secret plans for 2007.

What have you been up to today?
Oh just interviews, interviews and more interviews. I think this is my eighth today! They’ve all been good though so I’ve enjoyed them.

No Pressure then... How did it go standing in for Zane Lowe on his Radio One show recently?
Largely it was very enjoyable, it’s good to get out there and do something different for a change. It’s the first one we’ve done but surprisingly we weren’t too nervous although it is daunting to know that it was broadcast to three million people. We subjected our listeners to the likes of Blood Brothers, Moth and Fever Machine plus loads more. It was cool.

Any cock ups?
Yeah there were a few uncomfortable pauses, but luckily there were professionals nearby ready to step in to fill air time, so it was all cool. We only needed them a couple of times, so we weren’t that bad.

You’re most associated with your release of Monster last year. Do you actually believe in monsters?
Umm No not really. Well maybe the Yeti and of course the monsters you find within people!

Who’s your favourite TV monster?
It has to be the Cookie Monster! There is no better.

Any particular horror films you’d like to commend? (It doesn’t have to be with monsters)
I liked 28 Days Later purely for the fact that the zombies were actually fast. It makes a change from the slow ones.

So what’s your favourite of your tracks?
Definitely By my side from the album. It’s the track that’s musically closest to what we listen to and it’s all about regaining self confidence and being reflective. We recorded it in a studio with no phone signal or internet, so it was like we were stranded from the outside world. It gave us all a chance to think properly about what we were doing. Plus I really liked my vocals on it!

Any inspirations which you can pinpoint?
I love Million Dead, although we don’t sound like them. I just admire what they do and I guess you could say that Radiohead have been an inspiration on our work.

Is there anyone who you’d like to collaborate with?
We’ve already collaborated with a band called Your Code Name is Milo and they are awesome! We couldn’t have asked for anyone better. Their lead singer (Paul Mullen) has an incredible voice and actually made me feel embarrassed. We appeared on a contributor’s album they concocted alongside all sorts of other artists like Bloc Party and it was brilliant.

What was the last album you bought?
Jurassic 5’s Quality Control. It’s a great album it just flows and feels really melodic. It’s like old school hiphop!

Is there anyone you think we should look out for in the world of new music?
Mumm-Ra. They’ll make a rise im sure and Visa Machine who have toured with us and are fantastic. They’re like a bombastic mix of Queen and Yes but nothing like them at the same time.

Do you have a desert island disc?
That’s too hard a question. Maybe OK Computer would cover it.

What was the last thing that made you laugh?
During our radio show we were trying to describe what Fugee rock is and we described it as a psychedelic Battenberg cake.

Just keep it as a mystery but trust me it was funny.

So what was the last thing that made you cry?
I can’t remember really. I was touched by a text message I received recently from a fan but it didn’t reduce me to tears.

What did it say?
It was just a genuine and humble show of appreciation. It just said that they really like our music and thought we were doing really well. It’s just nice to be appreciated instead of some frantic fans just saying they love you and want to do things to you.

Do you get that a lot?
No comment.

You’re headlining the NME Indie Rock tour at Rock City. Are you looking forward to it?
Yes it’ll be nice to get back on the road again even if it means living out of a bus, but it sucks leaving my girlfriend behind.

Awww how sweet. Have you been with her long?
About a year now and it’s all good.

Have you been to Nottingham before?
Yes a few times, we’ve played at Rock city before actually. I remember it being run by Hells Angels and having a really sticky floor!

What do you think of the city?
I remember really good record shops. Is it Selectadisc? Well I bought a really good Blood brothers album last time I was there.

What are the bands plans for the next year?
After the NME tour we’re off to America which is going to be really cool. I’m glad we’re starting to take off abroad now. The band is being recognised and that’s a real boost. I’m also looking forward to releasing a track which isn’t from the album, but is in the pipeline. We’re just in the process of tweaking it at the moment but it’ll be nice for the fans to get a release, which isn’t a re-release which is something we’re not overly proud of.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to LeftLion readers?
Erm… hello. No that’s crap isn’t it? I’m looking forward to coming back to Rock City, so come along and see us!

The Automatic headlined the NME Indie Rock Tour Rock City on 14 February 2007. Also playing were The View, The Horrors and Mumm-Ra.

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