The COVID-19 quarantine has not hindered Zach Evans and Devin Williams, Automagik’s songwriting brain trust. In fact, except for the lack of toilet paper and restaurant seating, the last six weeks could have been just another incredibly productive period for the duo, who are currently working remotely — Evans from his Newport home and Williams from his parents’ Florida residence.
“Honestly, I feel like I’ve never been more creative. I don’t know if it’s partial insanity inspiring that or what,” Williams says. “We’re going into overdrive with the lockdown.”
Automagik’s new album, Fluorescent Nights, drops May 15. The band initially planned to preview it when they opened for of Montreal at the Woodward Theater just prior to the original April album release date; the show was an early pandemic casualty and has been postponed until September.
Evans actually began work on material for Fluorescent Nights just days after Automagik’s stunning December 2018 headlining release show at the Woodward for their last album, Goldmine. Still buzzing from the overwhelmingly positive response, Evans began building new tracks, first at his parents’ home, where the album had been conceived; then at a noisy apartment in Covington (a slamming car door was captured for the song “Buick”); then at the studio he constructed in the Northern Kentucky home he and his fiance purchased.
“We were riding the high of that show, and I think that was reflected in the next few songs,” Evans says.
Oddly enough, Fluorescent Nights and Goldmine both began with tracks that Automagik had shelved. Goldmine’s Glam-meets-Indie-Rock dance-off was inspired by the death of Prince, but the band had doubts about translating the instrumentation and arrangements live.
Similarly, Fluorescent Nights was seeded by the tracks “Buick” and “I Hope It Works,” which Evans and Williams had written for a karaoke spoof idea they intended as the Goldmine show’s opening act. When the clock ran out to develop the concept, they set the tracks aside.
“We don’t ever want to box ourselves into a particular sound or approach to making songs,” Evans says. “We always do these one-offs, then time passes and we keep bringing that song back up and we realize that we found our springboard into a new batch of songs.”
After their post-Goldmine success, Automagik is completely confident in their ability to play Fluorescent Nights live, due in large part to the chemistry Evans and Williams have with their stellar rhythm section, bassist Jamie Rasmussen and drummer Andy Cluxton. Although Rasmussen and Cluxton aren’t involved in the writing or recording of the songs, they’re absolutely essential in translating them live.
“In the live setting, our songs become more bombastic,” Evans says. “The band chemistry is just as strong as the chemistry that Devin and I have on the writing side. The live side is the most important — well, not now since everybody can’t leave their damn house — but we have the most fun when we’re onstage. That’s where the magic happens.”
As with Goldmine, Fluorescent Nights’ only physical release will be its vinyl pressing on the local Soul Step label; the digital release will be promoted via a vanilla-scented car freshener featuring a printed link to the album.
Throughout the band’s studio and stage evolution, Evans’ and Williams’ bond has remained a consistent quality.
“Apart from the scenery changing, ever since we initially found our groove, the partnership has operated the same way,” Williams says.
“We always have fun and I think that shines through,” Evans adds. “We’re having fun as we’re making it therefore the record is fun to listen to.”
Automagik’s new Fluorescent Nights, drops May 15. More info: facebook.com/automagik.