INTERVIEW: Autogramm (Vancouver Power-Pop)

Like most Vancouverites, the members of Autogramm are waiting for the rain to stop. At least, that’s what the band’s bassist, CC Voltage, says when I ask the titular question of Autogramm’s debut LP, What R U Waiting 4? One thing no-one has to wait for is the album, which is out now on Nevado Music (review here).

The Silo, who contributes drums, says he is waiting for the band to tour Mexico — a fitting answer for this self-proclaimed vacation band. That means Autogramm’s members (all scene veterans) aren’t interested in slogging through gruelling tours, but instead, want to have fun while playing in sunny climes.

Although, of course, the band’s stated aim is to escape the Vancouver rain, they are all deeply rooted in the city’s music scene — having been part of bands such as Jerk With a Bomb, The Spitfires, Blood Meridian, Lightning Dust, Hard Drugs, Black Halos, Black Rice and Black Mountain.

Initially dreamt up in Berlin — where Voltage was playing with Dysnea Boys and the reason for its Teutonic name — that emphasis on having a good time is central to Autogramm. The actual sound — a time machine back to 80s new wave — grew out of Voltage, guitarist Jiffy Marx and The Silo’s shared love of proto-punk and power pop.

Understandably for a band that wants to avoid the grind, Autogramm isn’t afraid to lean on its influences. When I ask them to sum up the band, Voltage says. “Welcome to 1980,” and The Silo jokes, “This ain’t your Mom and Dad’s power pop… Oh wait, it probably is.”

Another thing I had to ask Autogramm is who Jessica is, the eponymous figure from What R U Waiting 4?’s lead single. According to that track, ‘Jessica Don’t Like Rock’n’Roll,’ but when I pose the question, it turns out Jessica does, in fact, like rock ‘n’ roll. (You can breathe, again, rock fans!)

“Apparently, she does, actually,” says Marx. “She comes to all our LA shows so now we just gotta write accusatory songs about a few million more people and we’ll be fucking huge!”

“She’s still one of my best pals,” chips in Voltage, “and she really was the spandex queen who went to all the shows. Somehow, it took me 6 months to realize Jeff [Marx] was singing about her.”

Naturally, Autogramm isn’t always touring a sunny destination. So, I ask them which of Vancouver’s music venues have a special place in their hearts. For Marx, it’s the DTES’s SBC. He explains, “Cecil English is the sound person, and it has a 60-foot-wide halfpipe and the dudes who run it are sweethearts!”

Voltage, on the other hand, likes “anywhere with ample seating and food,” while The Silo is more specific with his list, saying: “The Lido for casually freaky shows, The China Cloud for intimate weirdos, The Fox for rock fidelity, and the Vogue for ‘concerts.'”

As always when interviewing, I ask Autogramm to name some of their favourite Vancouver bands. (It never hurts to get new recommendations, right?) In response, I get a whole bunch of names.

Sore Points, Chain Whip, Fashionism, Corner Boys, and Louise Burns among many other excellent bands,” says Voltage, keeping it to the point. “Fines, Ashley Shadow, Rinse Dream, Brutal Poodle, Elastic Stars,” adds The Silo.

“Too many to name,” says Marx. “Hope we didn’t forget anyone, but definitely, Needles//Pins have been my favourite local band for about 10 years now. I was a bit chafed that they bailed on playing my 10-year wedding anniversary, but now that they are playing 3 of our record release shows, I think I can finally forgive them, ha! Also, I wish Nervous Talk would get back together and/but looking forward to checking out Poison Mind!”

The Vancouver record release show for What R U Waiting 4? takes place on November 8, 2018, at Fortune Sound Club.

Click here to read my review of What R U Waiting 4? by Autogramm.

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