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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Exclusive Interview: Autograph- Still 'Turning Up' Fans with Old Classics and Brand New Music



ICYMI:

I recently spent a jam-packed weekend at the M3 Rock Festival in Columbia, MD. rocking out to a lineup that easily took me back to 1980-something over and over again. It really was heaven for this only occasionally reformed  head banger and if my sixteen-year-old self only had half a clue of where she would eventually find herself many moons later... yeah, not in a million years. Along the way I had an opportunity to interview Autograph, thirty-some odd years after winning their first album by being the tenth caller on a radio request line. The lyrics and melodies from  Sign In Please will forever be imprinted in my brain but absolutely nothing prepared me for the four guys that came through the door.

Steve Lynch, Randy Rand, Simon Daniels and Marc Wieland had left the stage just minutes earlier and within a minute or two of meeting became one of my highlights of this whole festival. They are talented, tight, connected enough to finish each others' sentences and they are really hilarious. Positive energy, gratitude and a connection to the fans is what keeps Autograph playing nearly thirty-five years after first finding (turn up the) radio success. Check out my chat with the band below!

(Photo: Cate Meighan)

Cate Meighan: You guys sounded great out there. How did it feel?

Steve Lynch: It felt fantastic! The energy was good and the crew really had everything together for us. It was nice to be able to flip ourselves around out there and just be able to enjoy it.

Simon Daniels: It's nice in a show when you see the audience's energy grow and they start participating. It's then pretty obvious from our perspective that they're feeling comfortable and that helps to fuel our performance. The way that we look at it is that it's like a big party and we're a big family. I've never understood why people say good luck instead of have a good time.

SL: We should change that (laughing). Let's put out a memo- good time, not good luck. Because honestly, luck has nothing to do with it.

CM: How is performing now different from when you first started out thirty-plus years ago?

SL: We're older (laughing)! I think it's more relaxed now and it is different because our fans are older, but they're bringing their kids along. Seeing their kids getting into the music is a really big bonus. It says a lot when people are still coming out to see you three decades later. We actually wrote a song about it, “You Are Us We Are You”.


It's about the audience being involved and every generation represented because part of every generation loves this type of music. It's happy, up music that you can sing along to. This thing called grunge came along and everyone wanted to do heroin and commit suicide. That wasn't nearly as much fun (laughing). The 80's really were just the best.



SD: It feels awesome because we get to travel and a lot of stuff goes in to when we play- whether it's for fifteen minutes or for fifty minutes. It really does pay off because there is no better feeling than hosting this kind of party.

SL: We play 60-100 dates a year now and it's so much easier than it was years ago. Now we're flying in and we make sure that our backstage riders have the venues supplying the amplifiers. This way we don't need a big crew. It's just the four of us and maybe some guests that we fly with us into the shows. It's much less hassle and it costs a lot less because we don't have to hire a tour bus, pay a driver, then pay for fuel and insurance. It's much easier for us now. There was one year when we toured for eleven months straight. We went from touring with Motley Crue, to Heart and then back to Motley Crue again. Plus, we were doing club dates in between the tour. If they had us playing three or four nights on tour then we would play at clubs on our off nights. We would play eleven nights in a row, then take one off. We did that for almost a year and in the end we were really burnt out, but we were also really tight.

CM: How do you feel that your newer music differs from the classic Autograph tunes that we all know so well?


SD: We're working on bridging the two. We're heavier but it's because we're more organic and the music is raw and polished. The songs are very much the same, uplifting with pretty positive energy. Memorable melodies and harmonies.

SL: We still love choruses that make people sing along. That was a big part of the 80's niche.

SD: The lyrics may sound a little more modern in the way that people talk now but it's still the same theme. Always up, we don't need to the darkness of life. The old stuff the fans know but I'm also surprised by the reaction we're getting with the newer stuff. All the generations that are listening seem to really respond to it. It is very difficult to come and play a new song. We're slowly transitioning while keeping the familiar elements. We've got to be creative. I think that we still have a lot to offer and we're young spirits so we've got to do this, for us.

CM: What is your song-writing process like now?

SD: We table all of our ideas. We know what we sound like and we know how we play. I write a lot of lyrics and ideas.

SL: We then all kind of join in.

SD: Everyone arranges the song and it sort of creates the sound that we have. We all talk often so everyone is really in touch with the ideas. It really is a whole band effort.


CM: What's next for Autograph?

SL: We take it one step at a time. The next thing is releasing our new album. Then keeping ourselves out there touring and writing more.

SD: We know what we want to do and we have the spirit of a new band. It's a unique situation because there are fans that might have been attached to a different lead singer. There are barriers to break through and in time, we're doing that. At the end of the day, we feel like we're conquering those barriers.

CM: Do the fans play a big part in why you're still taking the stage like the one at the M3 Rockfest?

SL: That's why we came back to play in the first place! We were out of the game for a quarter of a century. I mean we were really (laughing) out of it. It took us maybe four rehearsals to find our comfort zone when we first got back together. It was like riding a bicycle with flat tires at first but by that third rehearsal there was air in those tires. By playing with so many different people throughout your lifetime, you know what your job is before you even go into rehearsal. You know your part and so by the time we go in we each already know our parts. We know our vocals and our instruments. There are times when the first time that we've played a song as a group is onstage. We each have a recording, we learn our part and experience makes it all work.

SD: Getting the band together was effortless and when things are effortless you know to just go with the flow. There was friendship, mutual respect and a clear vision. I've been in bands before but I've never felt like I've had real friends. We all look out for each other and I've never had that in a band before. A lot of our success now has to do with our state of mind. Because we're older and we realize that what's good for the band is actually now good for each one of us.

SL: We have a good camaraderie. We drove eleven hours yesterday and most of the time we were either laughing or sleeping.

SD: Not one single fistfight (laughing).


CM: So since it's the fans that lit a fire under you to get Autograph back together in the first place, what do you most want them to know?

SD: During the show we feel like we're in a big living room together. People seem to feel more comfortable when they see others feeling comfortable. No darkness, no drama .We want them to have a good time and a good life. They're on this journey with us.

SL: We want the fans to keep coming to see us play. It feels like it's getting better each time we play. We just want them to walk away just knowing that they have shared the show with us. We see them as our friends and they are on stage with us. We are also right beside them in the audience with them. We will always go out and take photos, give autographs and anything like that. We really want them to feel like they are a big part of the whole experience, because for us, they are.

Check out Autograph's official site here

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