Interview: Automagik Is Kindred Spirits with Diarrhea Planet: They Entertain with Magic Powder and Ninja Turtles
When they played SXSW in March, the band was dissatisfied with the low turnout at the venue they were playing at, so they took matters into their own hands. First, a generator was rented. Then, they took their act to the streets. They tried performing a few times, but the cops kept shutting them down. “The last time we did, we had the biggest crowd there and everyone was loving it, and that’s when the cops came and turned our generator off,” Zachary Evans, the band’s lead singer, says. “Right in the middle of my guitar solo,” guitarist Devin Williams chimes in.
Automagik performed at Cincinnati’s MidPoint Fest in September and once again were faced with some irate organizers, when they surreptitiously integrated a colored cornmeal powder called Hippie Powder into their outdoor set. Without giving the organizers a heads up, the band threw the powder around the stage and on the ground, creating a mess. “With our live shows, we like to bring an added spectacle to everything,” Evans says. “We grew up in this music scene in Cincinnati where just playing your music isn’t enough. We’re all natural born showmen, so we just want every show to be a celebration kind of thing. So we try and bring new things to every show and that powder thing was something new that we tried.”
In hindsight the powder wasn’t a great idea—the powder seeped into the amplifiers’ fans—but the band went back the next day and helped clean up. “It was very responsible of us,” drummer Andy Cluxton says (modestly).
“We learned that you can destroy anybody’s equipment as long as you come back and un-destroy their equipment,” Williams says. Some other show shenanigans include projecting “Teenage Mutants Ninja Turtles III” on a screen while the band played wearing ridiculous H&M swim trunks and tanks, and playing a show at Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, where fans brought an inflatable water slide (they have a song called “Waterslide”), coated it with K-Y Jelly and slid down it into the crowd. “Indianapolis just gets us,” Evans says. “They’re like our soul mates.”
Everybody in the band works day jobs, so they unleash all of that bottled up energy during their shows. “I think it builds within all of us throughout the week of just being normal people, and at practice we don’t rehearse the way we perform—we just play the songs,” Evans says. “When it comes to show time, we all just freak out because I guess we need to, to take a load off.”
“It definitely comes from having a job that you don’t want to have in a few years,” Cluxton says. “It’s just being totally comfortable and feeling like you’re doing what you were put on this earth to do.”
The band, who formed in 2010, have self-released two records, including 2013’s “Black Sundae,” which is filled with funk and psychedelic jams. After some lineup changes, the guys are content with the current group. “We finally have five dudes who are in it to win it, so we’re just ready to put out a new record,” Evans says. Their musical influences range from classic rock (T.Rex) to indie rock (The Strokes) and funk (Kool and the Gang, Curtis Mayfield), but they say next year’s new album will see them venturing into a new direction. “I’d say it sounds like a new version of this band,” Evans says. “Like, if we were trapped on a tropical island with synthesizers and the only way to get off the island was to go through a love gauntlet.”
The guys only have a handful of tour dates lined up (including a December 12th show in Nashville), as they’re busy with the new record. But they’ve found kindred spirits in Nashville group Diarrhea Planet, whom they’ve played a few shows with. “I would love to get in a room and just try to out-guitar those guys,” Williams says. (For reference, Diarrhea Planet have four guitarists.)
Their goals don’t end there, though. “Our immediate dream is to get a booking agent and hit the road and just tour,” Evans says. “And if a record label comes along the way, then that’s cool, too.” But what do they want people to know most about them? “Everyone should know that we’re broke.”
Photo courtesy of Brian Bruemmer, Rubatophoto.com