When Autolux released Future Perfect in 2004, it wasn’t long before people took notice. With its debut, the Silver Lake trio (made up of bassist/frontman Eugene Goreshter, guitarist Greg Edwards, and drummer Carla Anzar) had crafted one of the most daring, smart, and palpably experimental records of the year. The album twisted and combined intense percussion with epic, grinding guitar work, and electronic soundscapes with whisper-thin vocals, making for a collection that stretched listeners’ perceptions and, ultimately, paved the way for an entire generation of indie rockers to follow.
Why, then, was it not until late last year that we finally got our ears on its follow-up? As Anzar explains it, “It was a lot of things.” Things that ranged from post-Perfect exhaustion to a nearly three-year contract tug-of-war with Epic Records. In the end, Autolux came away relatively scot-free (and with enough cash in their pockets to buy Future Perfect back from the label). But the time lapse also set the bar high for what would follow.
Cue Transit, Transit. Released in August 2010, the band’s self-recorded follow-up served to reseal the deal for Autolux and proved, yet again, why these three garnered our attention in the first place. I recently spoke to Anzar about the album, the upcoming tour, and why she’s excited to bring Autolux back to Santa Barbara.
Considering this was your first time self-producing, you came away with a remarkably clean sound. It seems nowadays fuzzy guitars and tape hiss are all the rage. I think there’s a definite trend going on, and we’ve never been a part of trends anyway. But we didn’t make a conscious effort to do anything but to make something that sounded good to us. It wasn’t a matter of, ‘Let’s do this and stay away from this because this is happening.’ We just tried to record everything as well as we could. We had some great equipment and just tried our best, I guess.
Greg has talked openly about the struggles you guys faced in figuring out what this record was going to be. I’m curious to know how you worked past that, and how you think Transit compares to Future Perfect. It was really difficult. We definitely had things working against us, obviously, with recording and just figuring that out. But I think that vocally this record is much stronger just based on the fact that we weren’t in the studio trying to get vocal takes that we thought sounded good. Technically, we went into it trying to get performances that were magical. For example, on “The Bouncing Wall” I wanted to do just one take of drums, no matter what happened. And that’s what I did, and that song kind of came out like that.
It’s an attempt to capture the raw, live vibe. Yeah. It depends on the song, but that song definitely didn’t need perfection. I feel like any musician who has any type of soul doesn’t necessarily want to practice something over and over again looking for the best version. The innocence that comes from approaching something for the first time is something you can never get back again, and in that song I wanted to capture that.
When the first album dropped, Autolux was held up as torch bearers for the Silver Lake music scene. What’s the band’s relationship to the city nowadays? It’s different. It’s much different. When we started playing here, it was a completely different time. We were doing things that nobody was doing, and now everybody’s doing the same thing—bands with pedals and effects and noise and this and that; it’s everywhere. There was really nothing happening in L.A. at that time, in my opinion, and it was time for something unique to be happening.
The last time you were here, you were opening for Thom Yorke at the Santa Barbara Bowl. What was that experience like? It was completely thrilling to get an email from Thom just asking if we were available. He’s been a huge inspiration for all of us for years. The previous October I’d met him, and we have mutual friends so it wasn’t so strange to finally meet. But it was nice that he liked our music enough to ask us to open for him. That was definitely an extra bonus.
Are you excited to be coming back? Absolutely. We miss playing smaller places. The connection to the audience is a little different, and I enjoy that. I actually get more nervous … But we’re really excited about it. We’re going to be really tired; we get back from Japan and get one day off, then launch into these shows, and you guys are the first. We’re going to be really weird.
Autolux plays Velvet Jones this Thursday, March 3, at 9 p.m. Call 965-8676 or visit clubmercy.com for tickets.