The new Monsters of rock or a bunch of sweet young men in need of a balanced meal and an on-tour foster mum?!
Jordan E interviewed Frost (guitars/vocals) before
their gig at The Corn Exchange Cambridge on October 27th 2006 to promote
their first album 'Not Accepted Anywhere' in an attempt to find the
J: What would you ask The Automatic if you were me?
F: I'd ask them err I wouldn't ask them where their band name came from or anything like that, I'd ask them something like, I dunno what's their favourite song to play live which might be "that's what she said", the first track on the album .
J: How's the tour going?
F: Really well It's the biggest kind of tour we've ever done and we've got a full 19 week kinda thing and a lot of crew with us, like there's 4 of us in the band but 10 people doing all the other work around us so, it's kind of a big gang of people and yeh the crowds are really good and we're enjoying playing and everything.
F: We're playing an hour each night so you get your moneys worth, so it's good!
J: What's the best things about touring?
F : Just being able to live; I mean playing live is probably the bit when we're most The Automatic - if you want to define it you'd have to go to a show rather than listen to it on records. Just being able to play and do shows to this many people every night is really good and life around the shows is just kind of when we're quite relaxed, and it's drinks and snacks all day , seeing new cities every time , just waking up in a new city and going to check it out . And then we get a rider, which means we get David Hasslehoff pictures put up in our dressing room - we worship The Hoff!
J: Sounds fun!
F: Yeh there's places before we started touring I'd never been any further north than London and Cardiff which is quite southern and then suddenly I was going to Aberdeen, Glasgow and Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle, Ireland we went to Japan a few months ago and stuff so I guess the travelling kind of thing and seeing all those places, that's a massive part of the band.
J: You're going to Europe as well aren't you?
F: Yeh we've done a few gigs, we did Top of the Pops in Italy and we also did a show in Ibiza and one in Barcelona but we never toured anywhere so we're going over in November just after this tour and we're going to do France and Germany and all that sort of stuff.
J: Do you have any consoles on the tour bus?
F: Any what?
J: Like PS2's and stuff?
F: Oh right, we've got a PS2 in one of the lounges but we don't really play it and we've got those PSP things (gets one out of a bag) this thing here and I guess it's a lot more personal, you don't have to all share around the TV. I've got "Tiger Woods Golf" on there at the moment which I'm kind of addicted to [I try to look impressed! he mumbles something incoherently] it's quite hard and I just ended up in the trees!!(Laughter) Yeh but things like that you can find your own space and get away from everything if you want to that's quite good.
J: How many loos have you got on your bus? That's my mum's question!
F: Just one and only err (chooses word carefully) urine can be passed on the bus ha!!
J's Mum: So it's the No Solids Loo then?!!
F: Yeh!! That's an interesting fact that on almost every tour bus in the world, you can't do anything but urinate, they just can't take it, ha-ha!!!
J: (moving swiftly on )Who was the best band you toured with or supported?
F: We did an NME tour in May I think it was and a band called !Forward Russia! who played alongside us , I think half the nights they were on after us and half we were on after them and they're just an amazing band , their album's really good .There's some great bands like Hard Fi and The Ordinary Boys we toured with but if you were looking for a band we enjoyed most live then !Forward Russia! are definitely the best.
J: If you could choose any band past or present, who would you most like to tour with?
F : Probably Blur cos they were my favourite band when I was your age and still are, so Graham Coxon was a massive influence on my guitar playing and stuff , him and my step dad were the two people who made me want to get into playing guitar. I was always learning their songs so if I could tour with them that would be the best .We got to play actually before them at a festival in Northampton or something and that was kinda weird playing on the same stage as them (nervous chuckle) so Blur!!
J: Have you got any celebrity friends?
F: Err no; Pennie's the more smoozy kind of person, he kind of gets in with all the celebrities and stuff. He kind of knows Alex Zane, the Popworld presenter, and a few people like that. I don't really know anyone famous at all actually. You bump into bands like Super Furry Animals , Goldie Lookin Chain and we did a TV show and the Manic Street Preachers were on that so we got to see them but as far as mates go, no, quite disappointing ! (Laughter)
J: Do you get recognised?
F: Rarely like the last few times I've been out in Cardiff there's been one or two people or sitting in a club or something one or two people saying "are you that guy from The Automatic" but generally walking down the street no one really notices me at all, and it's only outside shows like tonight- the queue a few people asking "will you sign this", but it's only when there's a show really. Yeh I think Pennie and Rob are a little bit more recognisable than I am, I could just go anywhere pretty much but that's good I wouldn't like to be hassled.
J: So that's good then?
F : Yeh really good; yeh I think Pennie's a big fan of the attention he gets and I like the fact that I'm more of a background kind of member so that's nice yeh .
J: How much money have you earned?
F: It's kinda weird you get given some money at the start and we set up a Company, basically like if we were starting a shop selling cakes and it's the same kind of thing, so we pay ourselves a wage which isn't much cos we're on tour so much and we don't need money for living cos we all still live at home and stuff .So yeh it's all for the future really and keeping the band going for as long as possible. So we don't think of the money as personal, it's more owned by the 4 of us in a Company but there's no real figure on it. If the band was to end now we could probably go on without jobs for about 6 months or something and then we'd be like (grimaces)
J: When did you decide to form a band?
F : I started playing guitar when I was 8 and I was already mates with Rob then and he played the flute, [as witnessed when the band perform they're own special twist on Kanye West's "Golddigger " ; Rob on flute , Pennie getting a serious chance to show off / strut /rap while Frost and Iwan play it fast and furious and well good], I kind of got him to play bass guitar and Iwan was playing drums .It was about when we were 11 that we started playing together us 3 and we had a few different mates then in the band, but never really stayed, and about 3 or 4 years ago Pennie joined and we started really taking it seriously and since then we've been writing all our own stuff and being The Automatic .
J: Did your family support you or try to make you do homework?
F : No they really were firmly behind me and it was really good to have that support , I think everyone's parents were really up for it and that .We were just finishing school and as we finished school we were still quite into our school work I guess and we didn't really have many gigs going on .So we got to finish school and when we did that we all got jobs or were on the dole and just living at home and then we had more time to rehearse and stuff like that .We took a gap year which is a year off education and yeh our parents just let us live at home and carry on with the band at the same time as having jobs. A lot of people obviously get chucked out of their house when they're 18 and told to get their own place and get a job and stuff - we were lucky the only thing we had to worry about was doing our jobs in the daytime like in a shop or something and then doing band practise cos the rest of the time we'd just go home for our dinner you know ? We were quite lucky to have that kind of support there, just to be able to concentrate on the band and have no other money worries or house worries so yeh the support was really there.
J: What's your favourite song on the album?
F: Probably 'By My Side', I still like playing it live as well. It's the oldest song we've got, but the newest at the same time, we wrote it years ago and we changed it .It's the last song we recorded on the album and we brought in a different verse and stuff .It sounds really big and I like that a lot .
J: What do you think is "trash on the radio" (C/F you shout, you shout from the album)?
F : Yeh it's just kind of dance , we like dance music but there's just some dance music that isn't very good and there's also some rock music that isn't very good .It's just a taste thing , radio are quite good at playing the same songs 5 times a day, do you know what I mean ? But we're just as guilty with our stuff so it's the repetition and no kind of new music, really focussed on only a few bands and then they just get hammered on the radio and no one else gets a chance to do anything .It's that kind of idea of the public having a narrowed down kind of music thing .
J: Yeh, so what's it like when you hear your songs on the radio?
F : I remember the first few times on radio 1, on Thursday night they go into the regions of their catchment so you'll have like Zane Lowe for half and hour and if you're in Wales you get one DJ and if you're in Scotland you get another one and if you're in England you still have Zane Lowe . Then it'll focus more on local bands and Welsh bands if you're in Wales. So I remember the first time they played Monster or something like that a year and a half ago, we were all crowding round the hifi like "oh my God "!!!It was really exciting and nowadays it's more like " turn it off " I can't bare listening to it, do you know what I mean? So it's one of those annoying things we kinda got used to it more but yeh. It's nice .
J: Do you argue?
F:Yeh ha-ha every day about everything! Err dunno really, like anyone else would argue with their parents or their brother or sister or mates sort of thing just petty little arguments constantly from certain members of the band and that! Yeh.
J: What's your favourite monster?
F :( thinks) Pennie probably ha ha! I dunno really err Cookie Monster cos he's just wicked!
J: I play guitar and stuff and want to form a band - have you got any advice?
F: How old are you?
F: Right ok that's when I started, that's when we first joined together. Do you write music?
F: We used to play Green Day I don't know if you've heard of them?
F : Yeh and kind of simple punk songs and things like that , try and play together as much as possible and also have a good time not make it like work - if you're not enjoying it change it .I dunno just keep on playing I guess .At your age it's kinda difficult to get gigs obviously you should probably just concentrate on playing together as a band and then telling all your mates .As more and more people hear about you it's kinda good that way - just do little gigs at Youth centres and schools .Play in school as much as you can, that's a good idea in front of the whole year that's always good .We did that every single Christmas , Easter concert anything like that it would always be ( impersonation ) " Do the boys want to do a song we've got this little Easter concert , you guys can play a little song at the end of it " It was always a big thing for us to be able to play one or two tracks by other bands normally .Yeh getting some live experience is always good .
J: What was the 1st song you learnt to play together?
F : ( thinks ) I remember we did Minority by Green Day but that might be quite a more recent one .Yeh various Green Day songs , Ash , Kung Fu by Ash . Even with Blur one of my favourite bands I think they were a little too complex I couldn't work our how to play the guitar so we didn't do any by Blur really but we did Paranoid Android by Radiohead for our GCSE music performance piece
J's mum: Would you recommend that - GCSE music?
F: Yeh I'd recommend doing it, yeh it was the best bit of the week really. You get to play and write but also you've got to do the history bit which kinda gets a bit annoying, but yeh definitely do that it's the only fun you get to have all week [ I like this answer]. No really my school time was amazing , the best time [he doesn't look or sound convincing]. I was bullied as a kid but still really good years of my life .
J : What song would you have at your funeral?
F : ( taken aback ) huh ??
J: Sorry, that's my Mum's question.
F: Okayy! Something fun, nice and upbeat [my mum explains she wants Decades by Joy Division cos it's dark and depressing]. Oh right, maybe Thunderstruck by AC/DC. I KNOW This is a Low by Blur , 3 guitar solos it's like the guitars are crying (dramatic air guitar solo with sounds , needs to be seen to be believed but gets us all laughing )
J: What makes you laugh on TV?
F: Alan Partridge and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
J: Do you watch That Mitchell and Webb Look? It's well funny.
F: I saw one before the tour and thought it was really good, I like Peep Show and watched The Fast Show when I was younger.
J: What was your most embarrassing band moment?
F: Embarrassing? Ooh dunno I can't think of anything at the moment we'll have to come back to that one . Sorry GOT ONE It was in Liverpool I went to the hairdressers and hadn't washed my hair for 3 weeks and the woman washed it for me and you know how they lift your hair up to cut it (demonstrates hairdressing skills) and there was dandruff dotted all over it urghh! The woman asked me what shampoo did I use and I said anything to hand, she offered me a "nice anti dandruff shampoo"; that was quite embarrassing! I explained I was on tour with the band and she understood.
J: So what happened on GMTV?
F: Oh we were told about it a few days before and didn't want to do it .We decided to do it drunk, the plan was to stay up drinking all night - I was the last man standing at 5 am. We had to be at GMTV at 7am and planned to make it look mad and have fun .I tried to do that thing when you fling the guitar round your body like this (more acting, could this be a hidden talent?) but it went wrong and I fell and landed on the floor and into the drums and the mic sort of crashed into the drum kit! It was really embarrassing and I wish I hadn't done it now.
J: Wish I'd seen it! Did you have to mime to your song?
F : Yeh but we knew that , most TV don't have the equipment to be able to play live like morning and kids shows you play to a backing track and mime .That's ok we just hated the fact it was GMTV and wanted to mess it up !
J: Finally the R*E*P*E*A*T fanzine must ask the question
What do you prefer, chips or cream buns?
F: What cream bums? [This is hilarious and I have to explain and ask the question again]
Oh Id says chips then, yeh chips!!
I think Frost was right about the band being "most The Automatic "when they're playing live, I really like the album especially 'Recover' cos of the guitar sounds but they really come to life on stage and it sort of makes more sense. My Mum thinks 'Not Accepted Anywhere' is the perfect driving soundtrack and likes 'Lost At Home' best, but I know what Frost means about repetition, my 3 year old brother has to have Monster on a loop in the car and it gets well annoying!!
Frost was cool and it was great to meet him (and Rob briefly) but I still think my Mum should have let me go to the after show party.
Thanks to Asa ("Jordan's mum") for the pix and for typing this up, Warren for sorting the interview out and Frost for being such a S*T*A*R!!!