Interview with Michael Trew of Autumn Electric

In the interview below guitarist, flutist and singer Michael Trew introduces us to the world of Seattle based progressive rock band Autumn Electric, who recently released their fifth studio album titled "Star Being Earth Child." It is an interesting release full of twists both musically and story-wise.

So what is the story behind Autumn Electric? How did you all meet and how did this band come to be?

I met Naomi Smith at an open mic in a chai lounge in Seattle, and after a different short lived group (Undercover Llamas) we started Autumn Electric. Our previous band's "logo", was a llama hand gesture. Round about 2010, we met Johnny Unicorn singing a John Denver song at an Indian restaurant, and he seemed to know the chords to every song ever written. I initially invited Max Steiner in on bass in 2012, and he was really into how much we talked about LOTR. In 2013, we were joined by our drummer Chris Barrios, who missed most of the LOTR talk, but got his fair dose of Genesis babble, once Johnny finally officially joined that year.

You released your fifth studio album “Star Being Earth Child” this year, which I think is your most successful album to date. At this point of time, did the new album change or assist who you are as a band?

We had really hit our stride on "Flowers For Ambrosia" the year before, so we had some momentum from that. Support flooded in for the making and touring of the album, which was great. It was a big leap for us in terms of merchandise, stage show and getting more into the prog scene on tour. I think the music and the show was a milestone for the group, but it took a lot out of us all. I think we are all still reflecting on that.

Tell me about the creative flow of the new album.

This was the first album that I worked off a lot of the other member's ideas. I went through many phases of what the album would be about. The decision to make it a linear story format made it more challenging, but I think that was a good creative pressure. There was a lot of trial and error, and the end product relied on the feeling it out over the months.

How was the producing process?

We recorded the basic tracks at London Bridge in one day (!!!). We then spent some time at home on the acoustic tracks, all of the vocals and some keyboard overdubs. ALL of Max's guitar parts, he wrote and recorded alone in an apartment in Germany and were pigeon-ed back to us. There was a huge amount of trust going on.

This new album seems to distance itself from the folk motives that were present largely on your previous works, but there are still folk influences in your music. Where do these influences come from?

I'm laughing, because I think I am the only one in the group that really likes folk music. I always kinda write the music for who I am playing with, so you could see the result on the last two records. I really love the pop folk of the mid 20th century, as well as old story songs.

What do you believe makes “Star Being Earth Child” stand out from other records?

Tell me any record out today that it sounds like? It's not hip, or flashy, but I think the music is demanding without sounding too impressive.

Would you say that 2015 is going to be your best year yet?

Last year was particularly good. I have seen a lot more reception internationally, so in that way it has.

I want to know how does it feel to have traveled this Autumn Electric journey so far?

It has been a lot of ups and downs. Anyone who has heard our first songs to our latest could easily see where we have been.

What is your opinion to the current progressive rock scene and what are your favorite artists?

I would say it is alive and well. I wish that some of the current artists could break into the mainstream like back in the day. I actually feel like a lot of indie bands are taking on bits of prog to make their songs more interesting, you can see it in a lot of unexpected places.

What big plan do you have next?

Some rest for now. Johnny Unicorn is recording again, which involves a lot of the AE members. I am working in a few groups around Seattle, so who knows what interesting things might happen next.