At this point in Autolux’s career, the band’s fans have learned to be patient. Since forming in 2001, the Los Angeles–based trio has released just three full-length albums, with a six-year gap between 2004’s Future Perfect and 2010’s Transit Transit, and a further six-year wait before this year’s Pussy’s Dead.
Reached at Autolux’s studio/rehearsal space in L.A., singer-guitarist-keyboardist Greg Edwards reveals that the catalyst for finally getting the new record finished was Beyoncé. Well, sort of. Edwards says that he and Autolux drummer Carla Azar were fans of Queen Bey’s self-titled 2013 release, which was dropped on an unsuspecting public without advance promotion.
“I bought the record and listened to it, and with a few songs in particular I was really blown away at how stark, minimal, and deconstructed the arrangements and the production and the sound choices were,” Edwards says. “I immediately came here, to right where I’m sitting, and played it for Carla, and she was blown away too. And then it just so happens that a few weeks later, this guy BOOTS, who was the main producer and writer on those songs in question that we were especially impressed by, got in touch with us.”
As it turned out, Jordan “BOOTS” Asher had long been an Autolux fan, and he knew the band’s material inside and out. It was a match made in audio heaven. “Stark, minimal, and deconstructed” is an apt description of some of the songs on Pussy’s Dead, the record Asher helped Autolux deliver to long-suffering fans. It certainly fits “Soft Scene”, a single that throbs along to spare synths and layers of percussion that build up from a simple drum-machine loop and climax in a clattering finale. Shot through with bomb bursts of ground-shaking guitar, “Listen to the Order” hews closer to rock, albeit rock that’s decidedly head-friendly (as in Portis- and Radio-).
As a whole, the record is by turns alienating and welcoming, wildly boundary-pushing and exquisitely melodic. To achieve such a delicate balance, Edwards says, BOOTS became like a fourth member of the group.
“Nobody else has ever been in the middle of the Autolux world,” he notes. “It’s really just been the three of us, and he just kind of came right in like a whirlwind and just inserted himself in the centre of it, and it was great. It was exactly what we needed at that point. And he made some big changes; there were definitely songs where he was an integral figure in changing the songs and applying a different approach. But mainly what he did was he just listened to everything and he just said, ‘There’s an amazing album right here, let’s just finish it.’
“We’re not the fastest band in the world, for a variety of reasons,” says Edwards, who evidently has a gift for understatement, “and when an album takes that long, it becomes harder and harder to finish the longer it takes, so it was great to have that energy and have his feedback right at that point.”
Thanks, Beyoncé. Without intending to, you’ve done a great service for the world of experimental art rock.
Autolux plays Venue on Saturday (May 28).