The Automatic biography

The Automatic

Last updated: 11 December 2009

The huge hit Monster established The Automatic as a name to watch in indie music in the UK.

Initially known as White Rabbit, they changed their name in February 2005 after 18 months together. A demo attracted the attention of Probation Management, an offshoot of Cardiff label FF Vinyl. "It was all tinny electro drums and then it exploded into this hook line of synths, guitars and drums," Probation's Martin Bowen told Sound Nation magazine.


  • Rob Hawkins: vocals, guitar
  • James Frost: guitar
  • Iwan Griffiths: drums
  • Paul Mullen: guitar, vocals

B-Unique, home to Kaiser Chiefs and The Rakes, were among the labels sent the White Rabbit demo by Probation. According to James, "The label turned up at a Barfly gig and we signed there and then. The next week we went with them to Bristol to record a demo."

That led to a publishing deal worth a reputed half a million quid. Certainly the early recordings, which including live favourites Monster and Rats, suggested a band with enough commercial nous and songwriting talent to make it worth their while.

If all that sounds a bit sudden, that's because it was. The band hadn't even done a tour. Although they'd played a number of gigs, they chose to spend their time writing, rehearsing and tightening their sound instead.

According to former keysman and yelper Pennie, "Because we've got good songs, and rehearsed so much, it doesn't seem to matter that we've not gone about it in the usual way. A lot of bands tour two or three times before they're signed."

Being green around the gills didn't hold them back, and the band's debut album Not Accepted Anywhere was released in June 2006. The singles taken from it - Recover, Raoul and Monster - swiftly became indie anthems.

They were keen to avoid any comparisons with flash in the pan scene-hijackers. "Listen to it," said Rob. "It isn't like that. Come and see us live. We're more exciting than a lot of bands. You've got to have interesting songs."

Sadly, tensions in the band led to Pennie leaving in September 2007. A statement from the band read: "Alex Pennie, who's been in The Automatic since 2003, played his last gigs with the band at the recent Get Loaded In The Park festival (25-26 August) and has left due to finding the last year increasingly unenjoyable and growing apart from the rest of the band.

"The three members of The Automatic will soon be flying to the USA to start recording the follow up to their debut album Not Accepted Anywhere and are looking forward to announcing more news soon."

That follow-up was the album This Is A Fix, released in 2008, which was preceded by another anthemic single, Steve McQueen. It wasn't as successful as their debut, so the band returned to the studio in 2009 to record their third long player.

The first single from the album, Interstate was released in December 2009, with the new album, Tear The Signs Down out in March 2010.

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