The story of Los Angeles’ Autolux is a fascinating one. Drummer Carla Azar and lead vocalist/bassist Eugene Goreshter decided to join forces after working together on a score for a theatrical production, with Azar then pegging guitarist Greg Edwards (whom she had befriended while touring with the group Ednaswap) to be their third member. Soon, the newly formed Autolux would be signed by legendary producer T Bone Burnett, and the group’s first full-length album, 2003’s Future Perfect, would go on to be a critical darling, garnering public kudos from the likes of Trent Reznor, Thom Yorke, and Jack White. In the seven years that followed, Autolux found itself floating in a sort of music-industry purgatory; T Bone’s label went under, and the band was ultimately liberated by their management.
But, in the midst of everything Autolux has achieved (or, at times, endured), Azar, Edwards, and Goreshter have remained active and involved, both as a unit and individually in projects outside of Autolux. They’ve also already finished recording a new record.
We recently chatted with Azar about the impending album and about the group’s creative exploits into new territories.
Now, Carla, you’ve been touring recently, correct? Yes. I’ve been playing drums for Jack White.
Was there any part of that experience that might change the way that you perform with Autolux? No, not really. I mean, to be honest, I think [Jack] wanted to play with me because of the way that I play with Autolux. But I did learn a lot. Playing with Jack was just such a different experience because, on some nights, we’d be playing in front of a hundred thousand people. But, to be honest, it’s the smaller shows that make us more nervous. As a performer, you’re way more vulnerable — it’s more personal. And we’re very excited about playing Santa Barbara. I love it there.
Do you feel like your individual pursuits have enhanced your ability to work within Autoloux? Well, you’re actually the first person that I’ve talked to about this, but after I toured with Jack, I did a film with Michael Fassbender called Frank. It was filmed in Ireland. I’m not an actress, and once I found out it was about a band, I was totally against it. But then I read it, and it was incredible, so I had to audition, and I got the part. So that was a new experience.
In Autolux, we all love music, so we all love doing other things. But it really makes us miss our own band. And I think that’s a healthy thing — after a while, you start taking it for granted, and while you enjoy working with other people, there’s a reason why you’re in your band, and why you formed it in the first place.
The difference between the first record (2003’s Future Perfect) and the second (2010’s Transit Transit) was palpable. Does this next record feel like it’s going to sound as distinct? I mean, it’s really hard to talk about your own music, because my perception of what it’s going to sound like might be completely different from how it’s interpreted. This record is the quickest that we’ve made, by far. One thing we did that we hadn’t done before is record songs that are completely live takes. There are a lot of songs, not every song, but a lot of songs, where what you hear is exactly what happened in the room. We left things broken in the most beautiful way. It’s a little out of tune in a completely musical way, but we didn’t go for that — it’s not like we tried to have it be un-tuned. … Today, music is so put together, but this record is full of moments that are absolutely alive.
Autolux plays SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on Thursday, November 21, at 9 p.m. Call (805) 962-7776 or visit sohosb.com for tickets and info.
Listen to Carla Azar talk in-depth about Autolux and filming Frank on The Santa Barbara Independent Podcast (on iTunes or at independent.com/podcast).