3 Dec 2022

LA post punk trio Automatic on 'sound guys' stuck in the past and music that makes people face reality

From Music 101, 4:30 pm on 3 December 2022

Los Angeles post punk trio Automatic are set to bring their unique sound to Aotearoa in January next year.

The band formed in the LA DIY music scene and released their second album earlier this year.

Izzy Glaudini, Halle Saxon and Lola Dompé talk to Charlotte Ryan about how they created their sound, their close family ties to Bauhaus and what life is like for musicians in 2022.

"It (post punk and kraut rock) is our taste ... we wanted to make the kind of music that we liked listening to. There was a lot of repetitive bass lines in kraut (rock) and a driving beat and lots of space and those are things we like to play with, so that's where that comes from."

Dompé, the daughter of Bauhaus' drummer Kevin Haskins, grew up with the genre.

"I was really lucky to be exposed to such great music from a young age.

"My parents would play really cool music - David Bowie, New Order and Bjork and Prodigy so I just grew up with a lot of music that I feel like I would not have been exposed to."

Back to those bass lines - that's where writing a song usually starts for the band.

"We kind of craft things around that but various songs we'll start with drums or a vocal melody. But usually it's the bass line that we build things on.

"There's obviously guitars in post punk but they're minimal and kind of scratchy and for us, we have no guitar so (the bass) is very up front. Because she (Saxon) plays a fretless it can have a little bit of a guitar twang sometimes."

The choice to have no guitars was conscious.

Dompé wanted the band to be centred on drums and bass and be rhythmic.

"It just continued along that that train of thought."

Synths play a big part of the sound and they've been hauled around the world - sometimes at risk.

"One time we had to play a festival opening for Bauhaus and I hadn't checked my synth and it was to 5000 people in Mexico City. I opened it right before sound check and all the keys were broken off and the sound guys had to gaffer the keys on," Glaudini said.

"It's like seeing your child with broken teeth."


LA post punk trio Automatic Photo: Supplied

The trio also spoke about discrimination in the industry.

"I remember early in our band someone asked my boyfriend at the time about my amp instead of me which was super funny. Other than that I feel like it's not as bad as it used to be."

They described "sound guys" as often being stuck behind the times.

"Then after the set they're like 'Oh wow, you guys know how to play your instruments'. Mostly that, not being taken seriously.

"It's also - I think a lot of people watching our show think they can give us critiques in a strange way that they wouldn't give male musicians ... weird little comments that we didn't ask for, things like that."

The band also aimed to inform people through their lyrics.

"I think it's important if you're an artist to address the times you're living in, and we're dealing with some really heavy stuff. It's very easy to make things these days that are just content and a means of distraction. But if you can entertain people and make them face reality, that's the best you can do as an artist, I think."

The band wrote its latest album during lockdowns and it deals with that - and the issue of climate change.

Automatic play Aotearoa:

- Saturday 14th January - Nest Fest, Hawke's Bay New Zealand
- Sunday 15th January - Whammy Bar, Auckland