Everything is hunky-dory for AUTOMAT: gigs are being booked by the dozen and their audience is growing ever larger. In the wake of the release of Pandora, their second album, the four young lads couldn’t be happier! Singer and author Mathieu Bouchard feels good: “We’re really happy with the final result! We’re four guys who are happy together. Everything is so simple when we’re playing.”
And that’s also the case for the writing of AUTOMAT’s songs. When the guys go to their Québec City studio, songs just flow out effortlessly. “Some of them were born without any kind of preparation, right there during a recording session,” Mathieu explains. “That was the case for our first single, Mea Culpa, which was written in an hour! And it’s one of our favourites on Pandora.”
As Bouchard explains, that’s made possible thanks to the excellent camaraderie between all of the band members — which is fertile ground for creativity. “A lot of times, everything just comes out at once,” he says. “Melodies, music and lyrics. I start by throwing words out there that sound good with the music the guys are playing, and it all gets fine-tuned as we work on the pieces.” But he’s quick to point out that not all of their songs come out so easily. Some, such as Lumière, which opens the album, were tested, arranged, and transformed before they were recorded under the direction of producer and composer Connor Seidel.
It should be noted that the AUTOMAT guys are not beginners at this game. They’ve been playing for nearly 15 years and have over a thousand concerts on their track record. “We’Re really proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. Initially, we were more of a punk rock band, but over time, we evolved, but kept the positive energy that comes to us naturally when we are together. When we started, we played in shopping malls, and now we unite all the members of any given family during our shows on the summer festival circuit.”
The influence of their new producer, who is younger than the band members are more attuned to more indie bands also helped refocus things. “Connor took us somewhere else while fully respecting who we are as a band. It was a natural evolution that we felt on Pandora, a deep evolution.” Seidel is the man behind Evermoor Audio, a place where the talent of Idie & the Mirrors, Mathieu Holubowski, Nova, Palm City and Stefanie Parnell, to name but a few, emerged from.
When one compares AUTOMAT’s new material with their older songs, such as Le Destin, one is struck by the slightly less festive and slightly more introspective vibe that inhabit the compositions of Mathieu Bouchard and his partners in crime, which is not to say that pop hooks have been entirely evacuated. “I wouldn’t say it’s a question of maturity. I think it has more to do with the fact that we worked with a producer that pushed us to step out of our comfort zone. We want to keep an open mind and collaborate with different people in the future.”
Apart from Bouchard who sings and plays guitars, the band is composed of Samuel Paquin on guitars, Maxime Chouinard on bass and Dave Vézina on drums. They’re all high-school friends who never lost touch with each other. After a few years in a band named Pressure, Bouchard turned to Francophone pop and gathered his friends in the AUTOMAT project. Right from the release of their first four-track EP, they started doing the festival circuit, notably Envol et Macadam and the Festivent, and before long, radios (NRJ and CKOI, notably) started playing their single Le jour se lève. Their energy came through in all its might on their first big hit, Parfait, which came out in 2012 and was selected by the Canadian Olympic Committee for the 2012 London Olympics.
But their ultimate goal is conquering Europe. “That would definitely be our Stanley Cup!” they’ve said in a 2011 interview with Québec City’s Le Soleil daily newspaper. But in the meantime, AUTOMAT has invited their fans to Iceland where they filmed the magnificent video for “Mea Culpa.” The video has attracted a lot of attention thanks to its aesthetics while the song itself has topped the Correspondants charts in Québec (just as the previous single, Mémoire) and was also included in iTunes’s “Hot Tracks” in December 2016, “the only Francophone song on that list!” as the band proudly claimed on its Facebook page.