All too often, a band's sound takes a back seat to a band's songs. If a band is particularly proud of their writing chops, they tend to want to ensure that those clever lyrics and turns-of-chord aren't eclipsed by sonic density; likewise, effects-rich arrangements tend to mask an inability to write an effective song. With Autolux, the two elements are not only equally important, they're also inseparable.
"It was almost like we didn't know how to write songs for this band until we finally hit on the sound we wanted," says guitarist Greg Edwards. "I just remember when we came up with 'Turnstile Blues' `the first song on the group's debut album, Future Perfect` and that was when I realized we had finally hit on the sound we wanted."
That sound - which Edwards says was "sort of a reaction to what we weren't hearing in music" - is a masterful combination of off-kilter pop hooks and forceful drumming drenched in swampy, gauzy guitar tracks that are deeply reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine's most calamitous moments (a reference that's as lazy as it is accurate ... and in a good way). Some parts - melodies, lyrics, guitar sections - are delivered in a druggy, heavy-lidded style, while other bits like the drums and harmonies are sparklingly clear-eyed. It's a convergence of styles that's unusual, yet refreshingly familiar, but also very much a result of each member's background.
Edwards played bass (and was one-half of the often-contentious songwriting faction) in Failure, a band whose legend grows larger with each passing year. Drummer Carla Azar has been a fixture in Los Angeles for some time, making a mark first with Wendy & Lisa and then later as the sonic linchpin in the criminally underrated Ednaswap. Azar is perhaps one of the most emotionally powerful alt-rock drummers around. Bassist and primary vocalist Eugene Goreshter turned up in the last lineup of psych-rock provocateurs Maids of Gravity. Taken together, Autolux can claim considerable collective experience in mixing sonic experimentation and melodic perfection; one could certainly see some kismet when it comes to the group's formation.
Or, as Edwards puts it, "Our bands broke up around the same time."
The soft-spoken Edwards is calling from his L.A. home between festival dates; Autolux has just returned from a jetlag-inducing trip to All Tomorrows Parties in England and will be heading out for the Coachella festival the day after we talk. From there, the band will be on the road with The Raveonettes for six weeks. Needless to say, Edwards could use a nap, but ironically, that very feeling - the daze of sleepless momentum - is a central element of Autolux's sound, so perhaps his current state isn't such a bad thing.