We meet Automotion, the rock band made up of Lennon Gallagher, Jesse Hitchman, drummer Otis Eatwell-Hurst and bassist Luke Chin-Joseph, to mark the release of their new EP, Ecstatic Oscillations.
The London-four piece released their debut EP, In Motion, in June last year. It followed singles Mind And Motion, View From The Precipice and Flight Of The Screaming Baboon. Now, they’re back. Ecstatic Oscillations is their latest project. It arrived September 23 and is more “varied and experimental” than their releases to date.
Half of Automotion are currently studying Fine Art and it’s clear in their influences. They’re eclectic, ranging from music to fine art to literature. Speaking to Lennon and Jesse, it’s clear they’re a thoughtful outfit, and this thought dictates their ambition as much, if not more, than the typical metrics of success.
We met up with the guys in King’s Cross, between performances supporting Spector at Scala, as they talked us through Automotion’s journey thus far.
How did you guys form the band?
Lennon: Well, me and Jesse went to school together back in the day. We both just kept to ourselves, under the radar, I suppose. Then I left and we actually linked up one weekend to go skateboarding. From there we just stayed in touch.
When we were around 16, I started getting back into guitar and had lessons. I talked with Jesse and he picked up a guitar, and from there we started jamming together. We started playing some shows, got Luke and Otis on board and [Automotion] went from there.
How hard was it developing your sound initially?
Lennon: Jesse and I had the same music taste. We locked on to what music we liked, chatted about what we wanted to do with the band, the kind of music we wanted to make, and it was a pretty fluid process from there.
The bands that we’re into are Black Midi, Slim; back in the day, it was My Bloody Valentine and Kevin Shields. The Beatles and the whole psychedelic scene as well.
Jesse: Starting off, for me, I asked the question – how do you create something new? Originally, the idea was to revolutionise music. Obviously, that was a bit naive, but I don’t fall for the contemporary view that innovation is not possible. Innovation still is, and that’s remained a key and current theme throughout.
Conceptually, it’s changed over the years. For a while I started becoming reactionary, towards innovation. I started thinking about self-expression as a reaction to innovation. But that self-expression became a form of cultural expression, and now, for us, being innovative has come back with a serious thrust in creating something new with this EP.
How would you describe your music and what to expect in your new EP ’Ecstatic Oscillations’?
Jesse: It’s always so difficult to describe one’s music, but it is rock focused. I think we’ve been successful in having a more diverse sonic field this time around. The debut EP, In Motion, was more us finding our feet and style. Ecstatic Oscillations is definitely more varied and experimental. With the first EP, we tracked the drums and bass whereas this one has much more of a live feel to it.
How do songs come to you?
Jesse: In terms of the creative process, when you get into a jam with each other, you’re not necessarily thinking too much about it. With all of this stuff you can definitely overthink and get yourself into a headache. We believe in thinking methodically, rather than dwelling on the meanings of what we’re trying to get across, we’re interested in actually doing things and being productive in that sense.
You need to find the best way to innovate, and to do that you need to put yourself in a scenario where it’s more likely to happen. When it works, it’s auto-cohesive and we bounce off each other. We will start jamming, [Lennon] will react to me or someone else will react and we go from there. It works by cycling round in a back-and-forth motion. And then the music transcends us. But when it works badly, it’s like we’re all trying to maintain our own identity, trying to maintain ourselves and be stubborn as opposed to working together, cohesively.
Lennon: Some tracks we can make in an hour, some tracks take a couple of months. It can be hard to wrap your head around certain sections. Sometimes we get there immediately, sometimes we don’t.
You guys just at Scala, supporting Spector. How was it?
Lennon: It was really well received from the crowd, it was a really solid night. Scala is such a big venue and it was very cool to be on that stage. I guess the preference of performing and writing is different for each person.
Jesse: I prefer recording, as it’s a chance to get immersed into that world and I love all the creative aspects that come with it. When you’re playing live, the self becomes immersed in the work and there is this immediacy to playing live and then the factor of chance comes in. It’s more dangerous playing live. So there is that thrill.
What are some of your favourite venues?
Lennon: Definitely The Windmill. We’ve been going for years, just two quiet kids going up to the front of the stage. We played End of the Road Festival at a packed-out tent a few weeks ago, and that was such a fucking good experience. That was the biggest show we’ve done, and it was seriously ‘wow!’.
Jesse: We also had people queuing around to see us at Visions. It’s different though on the larger stages, it is more thrilling. But with small venues like The Windmill it’s incredible playing there. We feel we were educated and raised there. When we were first starting out we’d just go there to see what was going on in the scene. Windmill is home.
In terms of your next steps, what are you looking to do?
Lennon: I think we’re taking it step-by-step.
Jesse: Being in a band, there’s a lot of aspiration and desire to be in a certain place. But if you attach desire to an idea it can become disappointing. If you free desire and let it become you instead of being productive and being in the moment I feel more interesting things will happen. Our first desire was to play The Windmill, we wanted it so bad.
Now, everything’s a bonus.
You can listen to the new EP, Ecstatic Oscillations, here.