The Automatic are a rock band which formed in 2005 in Cowbridge, Wales, United Kingdom. The group is also known as The Automatic Automatic in the U.S. and Canada after the band were faced with legal action from another act under the name of Automatic, although a large majority of fans in those countries commonly refer to the band by their actual name. The three remaining original members James Frost, Robin Hawkins, and Iwan Griffiths are from Wales; new addition Paul Mullen (originally of YOURCODENAMEIS:MILO) is from Sunderland.
The band originally formed in Cowbridge, Glamorgan, Wales but are currently based in a studio in Cardiff. Jarcrew, Muse, Blur and The Blood Brothers are among the band’s influences. The band released their debut album, Not Accepted Anywhere (2006) through B-Unique Records and Polydor Records, the album featured the prior to LP release single “Recover”, “Raoul” and “Monster”. The band as of 1 March 2008 finished their second album with new member Paul Mullen, after keyboardist/backing vocalist Alex Pennie left in September 2007, going on to form the rock band Decimals. The band’s sixth single Steve McQueen was released on 18 August 2008, followed by the release of the album, This Is a Fix, on 25 August 2008.
The members first met at primary school, in the early nineties, and formed a band at the age of 13. Alex Pennie was asked to join five years later. Originally known as White Rabbit, up until February 2005 when they renamed themselves The Automatic because they believe that music is the antidote to “the automatic life”. After recording their two-track demo featuring rough versions of “Monster” and “Rats”. in 2005 they signed a five-album record deal with B-Unique Records in their gap year, going on to be managed by Martin Bowen of Probation Management.
After signing their record deal with B-Unique the band began the writing and recording of their first record, the first release from which came in the form of “Recover” which on 7 November 2005 saw its release along with b-side “Jack Daniels”. for the next 2 months the band were in studio, put under strain to write their record for a January deadline set by their record label, because of this the band believe the end result came out sounding quite similar. Whilst début single “Recover” did not chart, it had still gained them publicity, NME put the band on their new music tour, also calling them “The sound of 2006”, the band quickly had further success, being awarded Best New Band in the Pop Factory Awards 2005.
After touring with The Kooks in early 2006 the band began the release of second single “Raoul” which came on 27 March 2006, being the first chart eligible release, reaching a peak in the UK Singles Chart of #35, album track “On The Campaign Trail” was also released on the CD single, whilst “Trophy Wives” was released on the vinyl, the single received as a large amount of airplay on MTV Two amongst other channels, as well as further exposure. the band went around the country between touring promoting the single and the forthcoming album with instore signings.
On 27 April 2006 Not Accepted Anywhere was announced; the début 12 track long album, which would see release on B-Unique Records on 19 June 2006, with a new single “Monster”, as well as further tour dates. When the album then arrived it received fairly mixed reactions, many reviewers pointing out the high pitched backing screams from Alex Pennie, which whilst some pointed out it gives the band an identity and a level of individuality, whilst others just found it annoying Dom Gourlay of Drowned In Sound wrote “the unnecessary screeching of the keyboard player just a tad irritating - bordering on the side of wanting to commit homicide - at the best of times” whilst NME wrote “screeching backing vocals, have made him sound like a new instrument all of its own” regarding the notorious vocalist. The album however remained very popular as far as sales went, reaching number #3 in the UK Album Chart, and remaining in the chart for over half a year, new single “Monster” also proved to be a huge success, reaching #4 in the single chart, oddly the band were then accused of being a one hit wonder, despite “Monster” being their second top 40 hit, the band also said since its release that there was no pressure, nor was it an objective to come up with something as popular as “Monster”. The Raoul EP, a collection of b-sides and songs which didn’t make the final album was released on 17 July 2006.
Following the release of the album the band went on tour with Cat The Dog and Welsh friends Viva Machine, and played a 13 date tour across the United Kingdom, which also included their hugely publicised appearance on GMTV as well as a UK festival circuit, included Reading and Leeds festival, T4 on the Beach and T In The Park, all leading up to their fourth single a re-release of “Recover”, which had been re-recorded for a larger release than its original limited release the year before. The single peaked at #32 in the UK after its release on 18 September 2006, surrounding this the band played various dates around Europe and Japan.
Over Christmas 2006 the band wrote and recorded two new songs which would begin play next year on the NME Rock Tour 2007, these songs titled “Steve McQueen” and “Revolution” (now known as “Secret Police”) would be accompanied by a cover of Life During Wartime by Talking Heads, as well as the fifth and final single from Not Accepted Anywhere, another re-release, despite many fans wanting another album track to be used, “Raoul” was chosen by the band’s record label, with the band saying they were not into the idea of releasing Raoul again. The single charted slightly higher than previously (originally at #36) instead the single charted at #32 in the UK single chart.
After extensive UK touring the band released Not Accepted Anywhere in the United States and Canada in June. This preceded their attendance at the Warped Tour, 2007 and was opened with their first U.S. single, “Monster” which was released on 14 May 2007. after the Warped Tour and release of the album embarked on their first USA Tour, before returning to the United Kingdom for their final show of the Not Accepted Anywhere era, Get Load In The Park.
On 18 September 2007 it was announced by The Automatic that Alex Pennie had left The Automatic. Alex performed for the final time with band mates at Get Loaded In The Park 2007, however had been active for some time with the band assisting with the writing process of their second album, This Is A Fix. It was announced through the band’s website and through the band’s MySpace that Pennie had been finding playing with his band mates “increasingly unenjoyable” and that he had been growing apart from them.
In November NME reported that the band have had no direct contact with Pennie since the split, which also took place earlier than the official split according to his former band mates. Hawkins has exchanged MySpace messages with Pennie however, reporting that he is doing ok, and that he now has a new punk band. Alex Pennie has more recently stated that he is returning to the UK to start work on “a new project”. This was later announced by Pennie through his myspace profile to be Decimals, in which he performs lead vocals.
Robin Hawkins commented on the situation of Pennie’s departure in an interview with Xfm in August 2008 stating;“It was never going to spell the end of the band. Him staying would have spelt the end of it”, said the singer. “He didn’t want to be in the band anymore and what he did on the first album, the screaming thing, there’s only so far you can take that, really. We couldn’t have progressed… There’s no regrets on either side as far as I know.”
After the departure of Alex Pennie the band was quick to make a new recruitment, Paul Mullen of Yourcodenameis:Milo was brought in after his band went on hiatus, taking on the position of guitarist, vocalist and synth player, so he would not be a direct replacement for Alex Pennie. The band had already been at work before Pennie’s departure and had around 10 songs already done, two of which were “Steve McQueen” and “Secret Police”, which both had been performed throughout 2007 on various tours.
After working in Cardiff in their studio, the band flew out to Los Angeles, California were they began working with Don Gilmore, who has worked with the likes of Linkin Park and Dashboard Confessional, however were not happy with the results, thus switched to working with Butch Walker (Fall Out Boy, The All American Rejects, Simple Plan) where they worked for some time, until having to return to the United Kingdom where they finished up much of the record back in Cardiff working with Richard Jackson, who worked with the band on Not Accepted Anywhere.
After the recording process was complete, in March, the band began a club tour, playing at smaller venues to “get up close” with the fans, supported by friends Viva Machine with the likes of Canterbury and Attack Attack also performing at select dates. The band’s first single from This Is a Fix was soon announced, “Steve McQueen”, first played on the NME 2007 Tour, would arrive on 18 August 2008, a further number of tour dates were also announced for August and September, the band were also announced to be play at Reading and Leeds Festivals, as well as performing at the UK release of the Rock Band video game, Glastonbury, and a number of other festivals and gigs around Europe.
Single “Steve McQueen” was premièred on the Zane Lowe show on BBC Radio 1 on 7 July 2008, the following day NME.com broadcast the music video for the first time, following this track “This Is A Fix” was released as a free gift on 30 July 2008 via download. On 18 August, the release day of Steve McQueen, the entire album became available on the band’s myspace page, the band also days later performed an all new cover, “Love In This Club” by Usher on the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge.
After the albums release the band completed two UK album tours in the remaining months of 2008, before heading back into studio to work on new tracks. At The Asylum in Birmingham, the band confirmed “Magazines” to be the second single of This Is A Fix originally stating a release would happen in February 2009, however this date was scrapped. The Automatic along with Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly., Frank Turner and My Vitriol were announced in early 2009 to be part of the final show at the London Astoria on Wednesday 14 January, a charity show for Love Music Hate Racism and Jail Guitar Doors.
Since the start of 2009 the band began working in studio on new tracks, and by March had around 10 songs in various stages of development, some being demoed and some not. The band fully recorded 4 of the new tracks in early April, and on April 18 it was confirmed that the new tracks are towards the bands third studio album and have said there will be news as of May 1st 2009.