By Nicholas Jason Lopez
“Relax… Breathe deep… No thinking… Repeat.”
Sometimes, we just forget to “be” in the moment when things seem difficult in the midst of a global pandemic and that’s exactly what Autogramm focused on when they penned the lyrics to the single “Mantra,” which had its imaginative music video created by award-winning director Shayne Ehman (METZ/Asphalt Watches).
Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Jiffy Marx, bassist C.C. Voltage and Chicago-based drummer The Silo, the power-pop trio put out their sophomore LP ‘No Rules’ this past April via Nevado Records, with a synth-happy, 80’s-centric sound that brings acts like The Cars, The Go Go’s and Devo to mind, which brings notable songs like “Mantra,” “No Rules,” “Anxiety” and “I Am A Situation,” to full life.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with the band about ‘No Rules’ and more.
Music Bugle – How did you decide the name “Autogramm”?
C.C. Voltage – There were dozens of names on the table, but for some reason, we wanted to go with a German name. Maybe because of the sound of the band, or maybe because we all spent time together in Berlin at various times over the years. In any case, it means “autograph” in German.
Music Bugle – What were your goals for your sophomore LP ‘No Rules’?
Jiffy Marx – I dunno, maybe we should have called it ‘No Goals!’? Actually, I was really hoping to tour Japan on this record, but at this point, it’s still hard to say when and where we’ll be able to tour.
C.C. Voltage – Unfortunately, the global pandemic struck and all our plans were cancelled, along with everyone else on the planet. Our goals without touring is to focus on radio and press until we can travel again, so thank you for having us!
Silo – My goal with this album, as always, was to take our pile of ideas and make something sleek, immediate and concise. Something you feel, want to sing, want to dance to! As a producer, I’m always looking to up my game in terms of fidelity, but mostly, I want to direct the feeling in the right way. I’m looking to push your buttons.
Music Bugle – What made you want to release “Mantra” as a single?
C.C. Voltage – We sent the songs around to people we thought would be good judges of what were the “singles” on the album. I believe our publicist chose “Mantra” as the focus track for the album. I think it’s a nice message to spread in light of all the troubles in the world right now. “Relax, breathe deep, no thinking, repeat.”
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
C.C. Voltage – It’s my first band that uses synthesizers, so that’s cool for me. I really enjoy the bands and people we meet while we tour too. That, for me, is the best part.
Silo – It’s exciting to me to use the synth as a visceral, muscular part of a rock band – to take power pop and add this abstract, science-fiction element, while still always making it rock.
Music Bugle – What is the biggest challenge in being a musical trio?
Jiffy Marx – Oh man, I’m probably not supposed to say this, but playing two instruments and singing is definitely the biggest challenge for me. The biggest challenge for the other dudes is probably having to hear me bitch about it! It has saved us a lot in plane fares, though so..
Silo – It’s a challenge live, but I think it’s worth it. Being a trio keeps things just spartan enough to rarely cloud the intent of a song. Everyone is stretching to the limits of their musical vocabulary to make it happen and to me, that feels good.
Music Bugle – What makes you the most proud about where you come from?
C.C. Voltage – Interesting question, because we’re such a nomadic band. Between us, we’ve lived in Hong Kong, Chicago, Calgary, Berlin, London, Vancouver, New York City and Toronto. At the moment, the natural beauty of the mountains and ocean in Vancouver make me proud.
Silo – I’m really not sure where I come from! But in terms of the band, the place we came together is Vancouver. Our spirit is snatched from all over, though. The feeling of playing in someone’s yard in Mexico City, jumping in the ocean in California, the decay of Berlin and Chicago. I love all of these things and consider them fuel for our music.
Music Bugle – What inspired the idea for the “Mantra” music video?
Jiffy Marx – I dunno, it wasn’t at all what I was expecting, but I’m fucking stoked on it.
C.C. Voltage – Shayne Ehman, the director, had a vision about skateboarding and how the zen of the sport correlates with the idea of “Mantra.” Smooth, soothing and at one with the universe at times. His films and music videos are amazing. Check them out!
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Jiffy Marx – Been listening to The Boys a lot this year. Not sure how, but they kinda eluded me before and now are one of my favorite bands. As far as new music goes, I really like Michael Beach. He had a record come out on Goner and there’s a song on his last record called “I Never Had Enough Time With You” that’s sheer genius.
C.C. Voltage – I have been listening to the “Echoes Of The City” playlists in Spotify and love all the new stuff they play.
Silo – I discovered a band called The Passions, an early 80s English post punk band. Their first two records are great. Also, The Cleaners From Venus – amazing home-recorded pop music; a sort of quaintly English link between new wave and Guided By Voices.
Music Bugle – Where are some of your favorite places to travel?
Jiffy Marx – Nosotros amamos, Mexico. Germany and California have been good to us as well. Pretty much down to go anywhere, though. South America is on our radar right now and Japan, as mentioned. Australia would be super sick too. Somebody, tell Australia about us, please.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs were the hardest to write?
Jiffy Marx – I would say “Anxiety” was hard to finish. We struggled with it a bit. It almost didn’t make the cut, but in the end, seems to be getting some spins!
*Photo Credit – Chuck Schmidt Staub*