Autoheart... What is that, some kind of cat-man with snake arms?
Published on February 6th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
East London four-piece Autoheart are set to release their new EP Lent and have an album lined up for “soon after”, so Rocksucker winged some questions off to the band’s guitarist Barney JC to find out more…
“Lent” is quite different to your first two singles. Is there more of that kind of thing on the album, or is it a red herring?
We get bored easily; if we feel we’ve done something one way too many times we try and steer newer material in a completely different way. Musically there is all sorts on the album, and Jody runs the gamut of emotions from A to B. But as a whole it has a narrative thread so it works if you listen from start to finish, or you can just pick ‘n’ mix the tracks you like.
What was the thinking behind the video?
The thinking was we had no money and Simon [keyboards] is a demon at Final Cut Pro. He can explain it better. Something to do with being trapped in the shackles of domesticity. I just tell him, stop spending so much time shopping for soft furnishings in Ikea and live a little, but he doesn’t listen. Isn’t it brilliant though? He made two, in fact: one for the original and one for the Bright Light Bright Light remix, which is very Depeche Mode.
How does it feel to be championed by Radcliffe and Maconie? Have you had any direct contact with them?
I was in the toilet having a pee when we visited BBC2 Radio in Manchester, and Mark pulled up at the stall next to me. Mark Radcliffe was peeing next to me! He’s a music hero of mine – I heard PJ Harvey on his show first, and Skunk Anansie, and all sorts of other things. I think we just said something about on-air times while making eye contact with the wall. Stuart is a great guy with an intimidating musical knowledge. I didn’t pee next to him.
What’s Danton Supple like to work with?
Danton was mean mommy. He made us get out of bed and into the studio at 10 am no matter what we’d been drinking the night before. And there was one incident where we found a stash of whippets in all the crazy junk at Eve Studios (where we recorded the album), but we had nothing to crack them with, so it was Danton’s idea to drive a nail into the top of one with a hammer. Thank Christ we were too uncoordinated to actually make a direct hit… we’d probably have taken an eye out or a finger off at least with the force of the gas. He’s also a genius in the studio too. What a guy, I love him.
Where did Charlotte Church come across you guys? Which song caught her attention? Have you done the songwriting session yet? If so, how did it go, and what will come of it?
Charlotte loves “The Sailor Song”. It all happened via Twitter. We did do a session together at her place in Wales. She was very matriarchal and warm and also had this fiercely articulate and passionate side to her. She really pushed us to experiment – she’s into pretty diverse music and hates to repeat herself, which we very much identified with. She’s completely independent now, and self-releasing. The songs we did were recorded on iPhones, and who knows, they may make it onto one of her brilliant EPs…
Are you still doing your monthly Autoheart’s PUNCH night at the Lexington? How’s it going?
We did the PUNCH night for most of 2012 as we really felt we needed to put on our own night rather than be stuck on someone else’s ill-thought-out bill. You can feel a bit like you’re on some conveyor belt, given a 20 minute slot then shoved off so another band who you never meet is shoved on, on a night where the promoters never even turn up. I don’t think anyone comes out of that situation looking good – so PUNCH was the opposite of that. We put a lot of love into the line-ups and made some fantastic friends.
We’ve never been part of a scene so it was great to make connections with people like Black Gold Buffalo who play the East London venues, or The Spiels from Manchester, or Fiona Bevan who is part of that whole Kal Lavelle, Ed Sheeran North London folk thing… We aren’t going to do a regular night for a while, but we do have plans for one-off parties in the same vein.
Do you know yet of any festivals you might be playing this summer?
Fingers crossed, Glastonbury. Not sure otherwise. Completely open to all and any offers. Weddings… funerals… bar mitzvahs.
It might be way too early to be asking, but have you given any thought yet to your next album? If so, what can you tell us about it? Any other projects on the horizon?
We are gagging to get back in the studio and record. We are currently arguing/debating/discussing who to approach to produce it. Suggestions welcome! We have some incredible material – it’s an evolution of our sound rather than a complete transformation. But expect more electronica and a more stripped sound with occasional over-the-top bells and whistles. I’m not going to be playing guitar all the time any more. And maybe Simon will dust off his saxophone.
In the meantime, we’ll be working on more visual stuff – Simon is directing a video to go with “Agoraphobia”, which will coincide with the album release in April/May this year. And we’ll be collaborating with various photographers and artists over the next coming months. Exciting stuff.
Which were your albums of 2012? Are there any that you’re particularly looking forward to in 2013?
I rarely buy new music as I often feel like I’m still trying to get through the last 50 or so years of brilliant stuff but big love has to go to Bright Light Bright Light for “Make Me Believe in Hope”. I shimmy round my living room to “Feel It”… you can do the running man to that track.
One band I am really excited about now is Haim. “Don’t Save Me” is on major repeat at the moment. I want to BE their hair. I’m also really excited about DJ Hannah Holland’s first album of original material released this year – she’s worked with Keziah and Annie Black Gold Buffalo, Mama, and the beautiful Shaun J Wright from Hercules & Love Affair. She also did a Lent remix for our Lent Remixes EP. I’ve heard her LP and it’s breathtakingly brilliant.
What was it like playing at the Olympics?
We were on the band stand at Hyde Park and played twice, once at 3pm and once at 7ish – all the bands did two sets. The first set was odd and there were babies crying and stuff but the second time round there was this big crowd – it was just before Mo Farrah won the 10,000m and the atmosphere was fantastic, mainly because everyone was pretty drunk and sunkissed. It was awesome. Great memories. Our friend director Tomas Mascinkas made a video montage of a few of our live dates over the summer, which we’ll be putting out soon.
Finally, if you had to spend the rest of your days in solitary confinement, with the entire back catalogues of just five different musical artists for company, whose would you choose?
Kate Bush for some wailing… PJ Harvey for the blue days… Fleetwood Mac for some rocking out… Nina Simone for some chilling… and can I get a little Smashing Pumpkins air guitar in there too.
Of course you can. Barney JC, thank you.
Lent EP will be released on 11th February. For more information, please visit www.facebook.com/Autoheart