By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
“They called it Pill Hill because a lot of retired doctors lived around us,” says Mike, sneakers casually up on the table. “Working with Beck, I could definitely feel a connection to Nirvana, spiritually, musically in terms of that thrift-store aesthetic.”
“When we did Beck’s album there, Odelay, he was probably a real part of this community here and he was living in the area as well,” soft-spoken John remembers.
The A-train the Dust Brothers engineered through Silver Lake went a long way toward putting the once-sleepy hood on the music map. They globalized a local aesthetic. Went wide. Beckified it, if you will, and they did it at a time when a still pre-prepubescent ?Silver Lake music scenes nuts were just ?about to drop.
Their shit-hole rehearsal space in a defunct strip mall on the outskirts of Silver Lake doesn’t make Autolux an anomaly in these parts. The nondescript studio is the usual dungeon: gray industrial carpeting, egg-crate soundproofing stuff on the walls of the 15-by-25-foot room with lots of gear, mad-scientist wiring, drum kit, amps, keyboard, outboard gear in racks, mikes, mixer. Sparkly red, white and green Christmas-tree lights from the 99-cent store are spontaneously draped about. A paperback copy of Notes From the Underground is on the snare drum. A rendering of Alfred Hitchcock is on the wall. Once inside, we could be anywhere in rock America, or the world, for that matter.
What sets Autolux apart, though, is sophistication and track record. Members Carla Azar and Eugene Goreshter scored Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo’s play Accidental Death of an Anarchist. Eugene is also a violin virtuoso in addition to his role as bassist and singer in the band. Carla is a world-class drummer who soft-pedals her impressive résumé. She’ll be doing the new P.J. Harvey record. Add Greg Edwards on guitar (and some vocals) and you’ve got the band that outgrew Silver Lake while operating frow within its parameters.
Born in 2000, Autolux has played and/or toured with Elvis Costello, Nine Inch Nails, Beck and the White Stripes. Currently they are taking a break from a year-and-a-half on the road promoting their record, Future Perfect (DMZ/Columbia), to record their second album.
“We don’t play in Silver Lake anymore. Our last L.A. gig was at the Hollywood Bowl with NIN,” says coquettishly thin and artsy Russian-born Eugene, who appears to have commandeered Edith Piaf’s hair for our meeting. We’re at a Denny’s somewhere near Glassell Park, a situation that has me contemplating the possibility of actually ingesting something from a place that has faux-Warhol prints on the walls.
“My first exposure to this side of town was back when the G Sun studio was at Grand Royal [Beastie Boys’ label and headquarters] over in Atwater,” he says. Eugene wrote and played on, yes, “Eugene’s Lament” from the Beastie Boys’ Ill Communication.
Soon, Carla shows up, working a sort of foxy, “East Village by way of Berlin” Euro thing. She, too, it seems, has commandeered Piaf’s hair. In the contemporary vernacular, one might describe her as “tight.” Greg shows up last, cute with scruffy brown hair and a slightly disaffected manner, which I think means he just woke up and needs some coffee. “We don’t want to be a local band. We wanted to move beyond being artistically associated with where you live,” Greg says.
“DMZ is an imprint of Columbia. That’s [producer] T Bone Burnett’s and [filmmakers] the Cohen brothers’ label,” Eugene informs me as Carla orders pancakes. “We were the only band on that label. We were sort of assimilated halfway through that record, and now we’re primarily on Epic. We started at Silverlake Lounge and Spaceland, back in 2000.”
“We moved into this area when it was really cheap,” adds Carla. “People talk about the Silver Lake thing. I know it as a region. I don’t know it as a sound.”
“I’ve been playing since I was 5 years old,” Eugene interrupts. The chemistry between the two reads as almost sibling. “This is all I’ve ever known. I grew up in this city. I didn’t move here to become famous or start a band or try to weasel my way into some trendy music magazine. It’s unfortunate the way that bands are marketed.”
It would be easy to misread Autolux’s denial of Silver Lake as arrogance, but the fact is, they have a lot of street cred and critical respect, and the chops to back it up. Nobody has anything but much love for A-Lux.
I press them for connections to Silver Lake bands, and Carla finally relents after the sugar from her syrupy pancakes hits the bloodstream.
“Greg’s sister’s in a really trippy band called the Pity Party,” she says. “One day she was knitting, now she’s doing a million things onstage at once.”
“I like 400 Blows. True punk band,” Greg adds, now fully awake. “They rehearse next to us. I don’t really have friends.”
The Silversun Pickups have a gang of friends. Everybody loves those Silversun Pickups. Their triumphant return from a recent tour was a jam-packed Friday night at the Troubadour and their performance at Fuck Yeah was the money shot of the weekend.