After 10 tours in six years and their second full-length album on the cusp of release, Autonomics just might be ready to kill each other. Besides their anticipated Doug Fir party on Saturday, September 2 to celebrate the raucous Debt Sounds, and maybe, yet another, jaunt across the pond to tour Europe, the punky three-piece have "distant plans for another record and grandiose plans of killing each other on stage with machetes while 'Dancing in the Dark' plays on the PA. Who knows?" bassist Vaughn Leikam says.
The murderous rampage would find his twin brother (and drummer) Evan Leikam as well as childhood friend Dan Pantenburg (the Autos' vocalist and guitar player) all meeting their maker. Then again, these boys don't really seem like the religious type—unless that faith involves ritualistically blacking out on absinthe in Prague or rocking a tequila-soaked Alberta Street Pub on Cinco de Mayo in honor of Vortex's third birthday. If it does, then yes, we too are looking forward to the afterlife.
But Autonomics' days are not numbered—they're just starting. And a good way to do so is with your most expensive record to date—the aptly titled Debt Sounds—featuring 11 expertly crafted, exuberant pop punk cuts, aided in the process by ROLA Studios producer and engineer Dominik Lukas Schmidt (Thanks, Giantree), mixing by Jeremy Sherrer (Modest Mouse, Gossip) at Ice Cream Party Studios, and mastering by Pete Lyman (Weezer, Matt and Kim, Wavves, Best Coast) at Infrasonic Sound. With reference points in Dookie, Siamese Dream and Nevermind, in the end, all minds came together to create a modern-day version of your favorite fast-paced, fuzz-filled '90s classic.
Plain and simple, Autonomics' resolve to live may not be read in album tracks "Bad Blood," "Southern Funeral" or "She's Into Death," but then, there they are living it up on "Never Gonna Die."
"Originally titled 'Vaughn's Bloody Shin,'" Leikam begins, "I tripped over a chair in Evan and Dan's apartment and cut my leg pretty bad the day I showed them the demo. The song was written at the tail end of our tracking sessions for Debt Sounds. I originally tracked an acoustic demo of the chord structure and vocal melody along with some self-shattering lyrics aimed at a recent breakup/mental episode. I showed Dan and Evan the track and we all kinda knew it was going on the record. Dan rewrote a lot of the lyrics with my full permission and urging to do so.
"It was the last song that we actually tracked with Dominik Schmidt, our producer and manager. The record seemed to need another beer-spiller; 'NGD' was perfect and it's become a standout track in our live set ever since."
Truly, plenty of beer met its demise down gullets and on floors back in May when Autonomics closed out the Alberta Street Pub affair. Unfortunately, "The era of Autonomics playing every weekend in any bar or basement we can stumble into has sadly come to a close," Leikam says. "We are much more focused on singled out, bigger shows every few months and that means seeing us is starting to become a rare spectacle of sorts. The DF release will be our biggest and most anticipated show we've put together in Portland—maybe not the right gig for a machete battle but this is a tough industry: Gotta keep the people on their toes."