Tuesday, May 02, 2006


They’ve survived everything from also-ran bands to a shattered elbow to become one of the biggest (and most name-checked) bands in Los Angeles...

LA’s intimate (and by intimate, I mean about the size of the rec room in your parents’ basement) Silverlake Lounge is bursting at its’ tattered edges. There are hipsters of countless persuasions jockeying for position around the tiny makeshift stage at the end of the bar. It gets so thick that actor Giovanni Ribisi (tonight hanging with fellow thespian Tim Roth) gets busted by a bartender for hopping atop the bar in hopes of a better view in the cramped space.

On the stage, clumps of red Christmas lights hang precariously from the rafters, while behind the drum set glows an oversized origami star. When the house lights dim and three slight figures take the stage, the boisterous crowd grows hushed in anticipation. A warped wash of spacey guitars loop into a hypnotic blur, which eventually explodes in a rush of sound somewhere between mid-period Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and 3am on the best college radio station ever. The Christmas lights twinkle in time with the music as the trio – bassist/ethereal voice Eugene Goresther, guitarist Greg Edwards and drummer Carla Azar – set about proving exactly why they’re one of the most hotly tipped bands in LA, fresh from a stint opening for Nine Inch Nails on their 2005-06 tour.

I meet up with the band a few weeks after the Silverlake Lounge show in Goreshter’s nearby loft apartment, where I find them frazzled at the tail end of a day spent entertaining a steady stream of journalists. They exude a collective cool most likely gleaned from each member having been on the verge of breakout status with previous outfits (Edwards in Failure, Goreshter in Maids of Gravity and Azur in Ednaswap, best known as the band that originally wrote and recorded “Torn,” the song infamously covered into a worldwide hit for former Aussie soap star/current make-up shill Natalie Imbruglia).

Autolux’s debut album Future/Perfect (DMZ/Sony), has already garnered reams of praise, and one spin bears out the accolades. A lyrically androgynous swirl of guitar melodies and Azur’s massive drum style (think a cross between John Bonham and Mo Tucker), theirs is a sound that’s completely unique, yet comfortably familiar. The legendary T-Bone Burnett (who co-owns the DMZ label with filmmaking siblings the Cohen Brothers) produced the album.

“T-Bone just created a relaxed environment so we could make the album we wanted,” recalls Goreshter. “He didn’t mess with the songs at all. The best way I can sum up the experience is by talking about ‘the buzz.’” The band all exchange knowing glances. “When we first got to the studio, there was this awful buzz that just wouldn’t go away, no matter what the engineers did. From the moment T-Bone walked into the studio, the buzzing stopped and never came back.”

The band is especially appreciative of their lofty position due to a freak accident that nearly cost Azur the ability to play drums. After opening for Elvis Costello at LA’s Kodak Theater, she was crouched at the edge of the stage talking to friends when the worst happened.

“The stage lights went down for Elvis to start his show, and I didn’t realize my feet were tangled in cables. When I stood up, I tripped and fell from the stage onto the concrete floor ten feet below. I landed directly on my elbow.” Her elbow shattered, requiring nine metal pins and lengthy physical rehab to repair. She produces a wince-inducing x-ray. According to her band mates, she’s playing better than ever.

“She’s got something to prove,” laughs Edwards. “I was afraid she’d never be able to play again.” Azure gives him a pissed-off look.

“You never told me that,” she retorts. “Way to be supportive.”

As Goreshter jumps into to diffuse the situation, I take the internal tensions as my cue to hit the door. It sounds like the band is already working on the second album…

(Originally published in the Oct 04 issue of Urb Magazine).