Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack: Lithuania’s AUTISM

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Friday, June 21st, 2013

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 Because every day another band records another song. Because 83% of those songs are unlistenable and you can’t be bothered to sift through the dreck. Because metal is about not giving a shit and waking your own personal storm. Because music is universal, expression is boundless, and even indie labels (whatever that means these days) don’t know everything, Decibel brings you Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack.

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 Long before extreme metal bent my ear, that ear heard the guitar ‘n’ synth wonder that was the Top Gun theme song. Steve Stevens dished up some leftover Van Halen solos with an extra helping of melted cheese, and I ate it up like so much cheesy Van Halen knock-off leftovers. At that moment, I wished for music where the guitars could define the emotional heart of an entire album without making room for a human voice peddling preordained prefrontal content. At that moment, I probably would have embraced the Kenny G equivalent of guitar music. When I finally found out that such instrumental music existed, I plowed through Dysrhythmia and Red Sparowes, and more locally Tone and Trephine, looking for the spiritual highs I was sure that lead guitars could provide.

I think Autism might have been the band I was looking for. The shimmery, torrential post-metal v. spoken word performance strikes an uncanny balance between meaty, anchoring narrative and amorphous, imaginative free-flight. Guitars take the lead role in the development of the music’s voice and the readings from Lovecraft augment the supernatural unease provided by the instruments. The album is a wide-eyed journey – not black, death, or thrash enough for some of you, but surely some are open to the light and shade offered by Autism.

Decibel caught up with the mind behind the project, and he graciously answered every invasive question. While you get caught up in The Crawling Chaos, read up on where the project came from and where its mastermind hopes to be headed.

 What got you started playing this kind of music? How did you decide when you had a cohesive album of material to record?

Since the age of 11 I was very into heavy metal music – all the traditional power, black, death metal stuff, but I was getting bored from all the same sounds that I was hearing. And approximately five years ago I rediscovered progressive metal / rock which led me to my experimental music journey. I was digging it all – 60s psychedelic rock bands, experimental jazz, later all the post metal and post rock stuff. At that time I’ve already had some musical projects and played in a local Lithuanian band, but as you know if the musical poison contaminates you – there is no limits for creativity. And that’s how AUTISM was born, a project under which title I could create and record music that I am very interested at the moment.

The Crawling Chaos, debut full AUTISM album came very naturally. I had some obscure ideas about a spoken vocal album, which came to me long time ago, when I heard THE DOORS “An American Prayer” and ENABLERS “End note” albums. I really loved how the combination of music and spoken vocal sounds, so that idea somehow turned into making a soundtrack for a H.P. LOVECRAFT’S “The Crawling Chaos” novel. I had some tracks already written before I decided to try the “soundtrack for a book” idea, but after few tries, it fit very well. So I decided to stick with it and just go with the flow. After a few weeks of trials and errors I finished the album, which I am really proud of. Each track for me has a perfect atmosphere and emphasizes the tension of the actual book.

To what extent do you think your surroundings in Lithuania play a role in the way you make music?

To be honest I have never received any inspiration from my surroundings. Maybe that’s because of the fact that I don’t really pay attention to what is going around me, or maybe I simply don’t really believe in the idea of nature’s influence in creativity. I still remember how black metal was heavily influenced by forests, mountains and stuff, which is a really cute story and the visual impact is quite nice, but I don’t buy it anymore. The only thing that comes to my mind while being somewhere in the Lithuanian forest – is to get the hell out of here, because mosquitoes will eat me alive hehe. The only surrounding that influences my creation process is my “room studio” where I record music. But it would not make any difference for me if I would be in Holland, South Africa or Lithuania.

What’s with the band name? Autism is kind of a hot button these days…

Hehe, I get asked this question quite a lot, and I received some quite negative comments about the title I’ve chosen. Anyhow, I’ve named this project because of pure fascination, excitement and admiration of autistic people. Since I saw Rain Man I was very fascinated by the human mind, and what little we know about it. People like Kim Peek, Derek Paravicini, Stephen Wiltshire or Daniel Tammet are only few of all the autistic people with incredible “powers”. And yes, I know that for the majority of people autism is a very scary and unpleasant disorder to talk or think about. But I find it quite inspirational, because I somehow feel, that each autist has something extraordinary and magical going on their mind that we cannot understand. To me , it somehow relates to the real life people with superpowers, which comes from the fantasy stories, movies or comics, although I know it sounds a bit strange.

 Is there any music, or non-music beyond the Lovecraft writing, that inspires the songs that rose out of you for The Crawling Chaos?

Since I discovered 60s psychedelic / progressive rock, I really enjoyed that strange, psychedelic atmosphere happening the music which was created because of drugs. And I did find the same feeling in The Crawling Chaos. It somehow fit my vision of what mood I want my album to have. Also, the mystical aura surrounding H.P. LOVECRAFT was always very tempting.

How intense was the recording process? Were you focused on getting certain movements perfect or was the recording itself an exploration?

As you say, it was more or less an exploration. The whole album came out very naturally and was recorded in quite a short period of time. Of course, there were some moments of frustration and lack of musical ideas, but a good rest was I all needed to get back on track. Yeah, I was trying to polish some parts to have the right atmosphere, but by polish I mean finding the right harmonies and moods, but not trying to perfect every note. That’s not how I record, if there is a little mistake – I leave it. I am kinda bored of all those perfect Pro Tools records, that sound like robots. So for me, these mistakes adds some human elements.

Is it true that Autism is a solo project? How do you write/record the material? In what order do you put the parts together?

Yes, AUTISM is a solo, or a studio project. There is nothing special about my recording sessions. I just sit by my laptop, where I have all the software, I take my guitars and start jamming. Some ideas are worth keeping, some are just pure rubbish. If I’m in good mood I can write and record a track in one day. Sometimes it takes a week or even more to finish a track. It also depends on how much free time I have to sit and play. As most of my music is more or less an improvisation, so it takes some time deciding which part to keep and which to throw away.

Is there any of your own catharsis/closure associated with the completion of this record?

I think I’ve accomplished my main goal with AUTISM when I’ve finished this album. It was to show myself that I can create that kind of music, and create it well. And I was very pleased that it got such positive reactions all over the “post” community in different places of the globe. Even doing this interview is a big thing for me, as it shows that the music I created is getting some attention, which means I did a decent job.

What other musical/artistic endeavors would you like to explore?

I would really love to create a soundtrack for a movie. And it would not matter, if it had to be somehow related to AUTISM project, as long as I had all the musical freedom. I really love how sounds and visualisations makes such a huge impact when combined together. Making a soundtrack for a whole movie would probably be my musical catharsis. And I really hope that this my dream will someday come true.

Check out the AUTISM Bandcamp site at http://autism.bandcamp.com/.