The Automatic interview (2005)

The Automatic. Photo: James McLaren

The Automatic were awarded Best New Act in the 2005 Pop Factory Awards. We spoke to Rob and Pennie backstage about their award, indie music and world domination.

Last updated: 23 January 2009

Why do you think indie music has had such a widespread renaissance?

Pennie: It's obviously the best music.
Rob: Indie, well it just means independent really, just that you can do what you want with it.
Pennie: Like with all types of music there are loads of people that would like it but they just don't get to hear about it. If they are hearing about it now, more are discovering they like it.
Rob: Leaving major record companies to set up smaller indie labels, I wouldn't say it's the new cool thing 'cause it's always been there, but it's good to see people letting bands just do what they want to do.

How you finding the pressure of such a big deal at such a young age?

Pennie: It hasn't affected us for the worse. We're doing what we've always done but now we're just working harder.
Rob: I think that things like this awards show, that's how it's different to before we got signed. This tour with the GLC is our second one. We did one before with The Ordinary Boys and Hard-Fi. Everyone we've met so far has been really cool.
Pennie: It's been great as well because we've played to crowds that don't know who we are at all and then we come on stage and get a good reaction, which is like the best thing in the world.
Rob: It's been good to play with GLC as the crowd is really mixed. Some people are there just because they find it really funny and others because they are really into their hip hop. I suppose it's the same with The Ordinary Boys and Hard-Fi as they have a jock-rock chav fan base as well as loads of indie fans.

Have you met your label mates The Kaiser Chiefs yet?

Rob: We met them at the Barfly before we were signed. We roadied for them when they did the Gonzo thing, so we carried their shit for them and now we're on the same label as them, which is great.
Pennie: I didn't really get to see the guys at the Barfly. I just went along for the free beer rather than to go roadying.

Is it important to you to be recognised as a Welsh band?

Pennie: It's nice. Obviously if we have been recognised we've found it has been because we're from Wales, because there's not been a great deal going on in the area apart from the emo-metal scene in Bridgend and Cardiff.
Rob: It's good but it's been around for a while now and we're trying to bring something new out of Wales.
Pennie: Being a Welsh band has helped us because we stand out with other Welsh bands. It's not a gimmick that we push, but where we're from is important to us.

Are The Automatic aiming for world domination?

Rob: Yeah, all the way.
Pennie: Eventually, yeah. I'd settle for the stage before that, or even the stage before that! Any success and recognition is rewarding.

You used to be called White Rabbit. Why did you change your name?

Rob: There are about 20 million other bands in the world called White Rabbit and we thought that it wasn't really a name that means anything.

So where did the name The Automatic come from?

Rob: We all came up with the name. It's sort of about the way that a lot of our friends and people we know have got it programmed into them that they go to college, they go to university, they get a degree, they get a job. The Automatic is the opposite of that, I suppose, because it's nice to be doing something that all our friends aren't doing.

So it's ironic because you didn't make the automatic choice?

Rob: Yes, exactly, that's what the name is based on. But it's also a name that a lot of people can read into a different way I guess.

What are you going to do with your very phallic award?

Pennie: You don't want to know... No, we're going to buy a house together in January. We all live with our parents at the moment, so it's going to have to go on the mantelpiece there.

Interview: Nat Davies and Susie Wild


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