Progressive rock 5-piece band from Seattle, Autumn Electric have released their fifth studio album “Star Being Earth Child” in July. A rock opera album, “Star Being Earth Child” tells the story of an alien visitor whose friendship awakens a young child’s environmental awareness. Partially inspired by visiting petroglyphs in Albuquerque during the Live Feed tour, “Star Being Earth Child” is Autumn Electric‘s most musically ambitious project to date. Progarchy talked with guitarist, singer and flutist Michael Trew.
Autumn Electric released a new album “Star Being Earth Child” this summer. Tell us something about the creative process of this new record.
After the “Flowers For Ambrosia” tour in 2014, I was gathering up whatever song ideas the others had, and just started throwing paint at the wall. One of the ideas our guitarist Max Steiner had sent me, I wanted to write lyrics about the Petroglyphs we had visited in New Mexico. One of the figures was called the Star Being, people here on earth that were once from a celestial place and have forgotten who and what they are. I could sympathize with this idea, and began to write several songs, with a story and characters forming within them.
Much of the album was co-written with major sections by our drummer Chris Barrios, as well as Steiner, which I eventually weaved into an hour long musical story. Then of course Steiner moved to Germany early on in the writing, leaving the rest of us to put it together and add his parts as the final layer.
After 5 releases, it’s evident that Autumn Electric has become definitely more experienced and more mature. And with every album your sound gets more “progressive”. Is it your conscious decision to go more progressive or is it just the natural development of your sound?
I would say it has been very natural. I was in a couple of bands around 2001-2003 that were doing something similar to our recent stuff. The end result has a lot to do with who is in the band. Going prog can scare some off as well attract others.
Autumn Electric is a band that remains truthful to what progressive rock sounded in its early stages. How do you see the modern progressive music considering that during the years the genre developed taking influences from metal and its extreme subgenres?
I love the rock/jazz/folk/classical approach as well as early manifestations of orchestral synths and guitar not sounding like a guitar. I see the genre expand from several different nuclei, all of which I think are vital.
Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected or is it an organic outgrowth of performing them together?
A lot of both.
Tell me about the themes this album captures.
Preservation of the Earth, purpose of life, rights of humans and animals, questioning authority, science fiction… all the good stuff.
Explain the concept of the album art.
There are two characters in the story: The Mother and her son Leif. The Mother is a Star Being living as a human, and the son is only human.
What are your plans in terms of touring and promoting the new album live?
We completed a 2 month tour of the United States this Spring, presenting “Star Being Earth Child” as a live rock opera. It was captured in a full film at the tour finale in Seattle, which can be seen on YouTube. Since returning home we have been focusing mainly on college/public radio.
Which bands or artists influenced your work on the new album?
This was the first time I really let me intense love for Genesis run wild. There are a lot of idiosyncratic, highly composed passages. I drew of some of the structural ideas of The Lamb, The Wall, Tommy, and Days of Future Passed. People get a laugh out of the reference to Close Encounters of the Third Kind at the very end of the album, and some may notice it’s woven into some of the other songs. Of course the use of the 1970 song “Who’s Garden Was This?” by John Paxton, whose version by John Denver caught my attention, to which we included in two places on the album.
Do you see the band s music as serving a purpose beyond music?
Yes, in many ways. We hope through the music as well as our interactions with people and community as one that pushes the boundaries, stimulates the mind and heart, and can lead to real change or exploration.
As an animal lover, and defender of the animal rights I would love to thank you personally for your help to PAWS by giving the part of your Bandcamp incomings. Is there anything you want to share with your listeners about this?
PAWS and other groups that we have worked with or are around are doing great things. I want to shed some light on them as I can, as well as encourage the act of charity within the independent music scene.