The Automatics were one of my many favorites on Mutant Pop Records. I connected with singer/bass player Jesse K and did this interview. The details are foggy but I remember Jesse visited a girl he knew in Michigan. We hung out in Ann Arbor and Jesse took me to the University Cafe to score some Bibimbap, which we took to the quad on University of Michigan campus and ate. I am pretty sure we were pounding beers the entire time (which explains the foggy memory), but we did somehow end up in Detroit later that night at a bar, hanging out with Detroit punk band Ruth’s Hat. Jesse was a blast to hang out with. I wish I could remember more of the story, but it was 20 years ago! Still love the music and if there ever is a reunion, I’ll totally be there.
Your names and the tools that you play?
I’m Jesse K and I sing and play bass. Jesse S plays guitar and sings and we write all of the songs. Ryan plays drums.
How did you get your start in punk rock?
My first band was in 8th grade in 1986 and it was called the Bodacious Tatas. I played the same Mosrite bass I play now. Our first song was a cover of Peter Gunn. We should’ve learned “Secret Agent Man,” but we never did. We mostly did covers of Sex Pistols and Ramones. We also did 96 Tears, For Your Love, Wild Thing, Louie Louie, those songs. The band transformed into a couple different bands during high school but a lot of it was doing drugs and drinking and getting laid. Not too much music really but lots of fun. My high school band, Boring Crime, played a prom at my high school and the music teacher went off about how horrible we were the next day in class. It hurt my feelings because I really respected him. But we were pretty fucking bad. Ryan and Jesse S. had a band together in high school in the late 80s. They were called StompChicken. I know that they played at their school as well as some now defunct punk clubs in town. I know they played a show with Asprin Feast once. I think Mutant Pop may put out a CD of our stupid high school bands, along with the Automatics original demo tape. That would be a fucking smile!
How did you come up with the name of the band?
We were out in the country firing off some rounds, just blasting away my collection of antique beer canes. We said, “Let’s call the band The Beer Cans” but then we kept shooting and figured that The Automatics would be a better name.
Tell me how the band formed, and the history of it?
Jesse and Ryan had written a bunch of songs and were looking for a bass player, so I moved here (Oregon) from Massachusetts to do the job. This was in May 1994. We played our first show on Halloween and we all dressed in Santa suits. Since then I have dressed as Santa many times and recently was on the BBC dressed as Santa and partying in Las Vegas on Halloween. After our Halloween debut, we recorded our demo and got shows at local bars and colleges. I don’t know the rest is just putting out records and touring and getting drunk I guess.
Is this the sort of band you envisioned when you first started thinking about forming a band?
We’ve grown and evolved together, so, I guess the band became better than I had hoped for, which is satisfying. I don’t know if any of us thought it would last this long.
Does your moms like the band?
Jesse S’s mom heard a preview of the new album and she said how good it was and that we should consider switching styles of music. Don’t expect our next record to be country or anything though.
Are the lyrics all “life” experiences?
If you want real life experiences wait’ll you hear the new album “Murder/Suicide” it is full of our souls and our life.
Is EJs a real bar?
Yeah, we played there last night in fact. It used to be that we would all sit around EJs and get totally wasted but in Oregon a lot of bars, like EJs only have beer, so the wastoids moved across the street to the liquor bar and are usually too fucked up to make it over to see the bands they lie. I should write a follow up song called “Hanging out at Club 21.”
Are you guys huge Godzilla fans?
I like slasher movies myself and will see the third Scream movie tomorrow, which is opening night. Because I see all the horror movies on opening night. When Scream 2 opened, we had a show in Spokane and I made the guys wait in lie for an hour to see the flick before we had to play. They love Godzilla. I dig it but not as much as Ryan and I saw the advanced opening of the new Godzilla in Beaumont, TX while the van was broken down on tour. We got collector stills from the movie and CD-Roms.
What’s in the future for the Automatics?
New album “Murder/Suicide” in March on Just Add Water Records PO Box 420661, SF, CA 94142. Followed by touring and drinking.. Maybe suicide.
How ddi you first hook up on Mutant Pop?
I wrote for a music weekly and got his press release. I sent him a demo tape and we became his 5th record.
Name your albums in order from first to last
SElf-titled, Go Bananas both on Mutant Pop. Go Bananas was licenced in Italy by Mad Driver on vinyl.
How was your first album, describe the recording process, distro adn all of that?
We recorded 40 songs in 4 days with Mike Lastra, who was in the 80s noise band Smegma. It was a chaotic pain in the ass and none of us knew what we were doing. The new record we recorded at Stout Studio with Andy Burk who is a genius and has helped us create a masterpiece.
Where are you guys going as a band?
To the bar.
Do you guys tour and will you be coming to Ohio or Michigan?
We’ll be there this year, yeah.
What do you all do outside of the band?
Drink beer and work.
You guys all have chicks?
When we can get them.
When is the next CD due out and what can we expect?
Expect to die by a stray bullet fired from a helpless romantic plagued by emotional turmoil.
Where do you record at?
We’ve been in many studios. Stout is the best.
How’s the scene in Oregon?
The shows now are at EJs or this strip bar called Union Jacks. A lot of spilled beer, loose women and fights.
What’s the big picture for the Automatics? Where do you want to take this band?
I want to spread love and beauty throughout the world with my songs and meet new and interesting people and have a lot of fun.
Favorite beer (so we can score you some when you come to town)?
Why don’t you buy a couple cases of Becks, Spaten or anything German, expect that Heineken crap.
How did you begin BeerCan Fanzine?
I lost my backpack in Italy and there were some cool photos of an italian punk band called the Grabbies. I swore if I got the bag back, I would publish the photo in a fanzine and call it Beer Can Fanzine.
How’s the response been to the Automatics?
I think someone’s bought us a beer or two..
Any other labels besides Mutant Pop wanting you fellas?
We’re on Just Add Water now. But Mutant Pop will release a 22 song CD of the first 4 years we’ve spent on his label. Pretty much everything he hasn’t put on CD yet.