You wouldn’t think a conversation with one-third of the artistic, provocative and elusive Autolux would drift to an idea partly gleaned from a television series, but in this case, it makes sense. While talking about the band’s latest album, guitarist/vocalist Greg Edwards recalls something said by Mad Men‘s Don Draper: “He says that to come up with ideas, you just think about it really hard for a long time, and then you forget it, and then it just comes to you.” It’s something that happens to most of us. A vivid idea or a solution to a problem that’s been plaguing us for a long time just appears out of the blue, even after we’ve stopped obsessing about it.  Could it be that time and distance, or even a few key dreams, helps us sort out certain issues when we least expect it?

Such is the case for the work that went into Autolux’s second album, Transit Transit, a departure from their debut, with its subtler build up and a more melodic approach to creating the band’s trademark, vivid intensity.

Autolux - Transit Transit

Apart from constant discussions the band had during their 2005 Future Perfect tour on how this next album should sound, there was a delay in release because of the usual writer’s block and issues with their former label, Epic Records. Much of the long process of making this album was also due to the beginning stages.  Edwards was experimenting with making “a lot of noise and random loops” and admits it was “completely getting away from any song format.  I think that fragmented the band a bit.  But in the end, it came together exactly like all the ideas we’d talked about initially.” Luckily, they overcame most minor setbacks by giving the process some room to breathe. Edwards says, “All the talking and conceptualizing we did about how we wanted the album to sound is all kind of the fuel for the ultimate solution, but you have no control when it comes.  You can’t really force it. If you try to force it, what you end up with is something not very authentic or compelling.  We’ve certainly done that before–trying to force an idea out, but we always end up abandoning it.”

This time, the band (made up of Edwards, Carla Azar and Eugene Goreshter), chose to write and record simultaneously in their own studio, working as three collaborators insulated from the rest of the world. Edwards says, “The fact that we recorded the album ourselves was a necessity and it also became part of the process.  There was no real, clear line between a demo or a sketch idea and the actual process of recording this as a song.  It was all one, continuous line towards the finished product.”  It was a challenge, yet also in some ways, a luxury, since the band was working at their own pace, which they couldn’t have done in a studio they were paying for.  Working in an independent way was quite different from the way they created their debut, Future Perfect, (which had the backing of a major label). For that release, the band had written and demoed songs themselves beforehand, yet those were songs they had already played live many times before going into the studio to record them.

Transit Transit, then, is the result of a delicate balance, the art of being creative and technical at once, especially perhaps, on the part of Edwards, who acted as engineer. “We’re each a perfectionist in a different way.  When you put it all together, it’s like a perfect storm of perfectionism,” he says. “In the end, it’s everything, but throughout the process it can be difficult, especially when you have to worry about recording sounds, and all the technical sides of things.”  He adds, laughing, “As well as staying engaged in the emotional side of the music, you also have to worry about details like why is there no sound coming out of the speaker…”–Madeline Virbasius/band photos by Drew Reynolds