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A Dirty Dozen with MARLON HARDER of AUTOPILOT – May 2019


According to a recent press release: “Canadian Alternative Rock Band AUTOPILOT has released the official music video for their single, “Undisguised.” Directed by Kevin Van Witt, “Undisguised” is off of the band’s latest album, Afterglow. Over the last few years, Canadian alternative rock band Autopilot has become a staple in the Saskatoon indie music scene. Known for their thoughtful lyrics, powerful hooks, dynamic stage show, and obsessive hard work, they somehow seem to effortlessly walk the line between passionate art and massive appeal. Over the course of 3 full-length records, and one EP, they’ve become road warriors, touring relentlessly across Canada and the US. They’ve been praised for their tireless work ethic by publications like Canadian Musician Magazine, who called them “quite possibly one of the hardest working bands in the country.” We get Marlon to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Our latest album was produced by SJ Kardash. We spent a couple of years writing and recording it while still touring on a few singles during that time. We put a lot into this record and I think it shows in the final result. There are a few things people could catch if they look hard enough, but we can’t give that away.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

My brother put out an EP when I was growing up. I saw his process of writing and wanted to do it. Once I started writing songs, I watched an interview with musician Dave Bidini from the Rheostatics.  In the interview he said there are the musicians that want to play music and ones that have to. I later read his book On A Cold Road and knew this was something I have to do.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Yeah there are a lot of songs but to name a few I’d say: “Trailer Trash” and “Polar Opposites” by Modest Mouse and “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys.  As far as albums, here are a few that I didn’t hear until a while after they came out but they had a big influence in developing as a songwriter: Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Beach Boys – Pet Sounds, Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West, Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.  As far as songwriting and live performance, Modest Mouse/Isaac Brock is definitely a favourite and a big influence.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Modest Mouse, The Killers, War on Drugs, Sonic Youth, and Matt Mays.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Rob Schnapf is one of a hundred people we’d like to work with. He’s produced some really interesting music like Fidlar, Tokyo Police Club, and Elliott Smith.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I’d say we are an alt-rock band with indie driven hooks with a focus on the songwriting. We once had someone at a US college give us a great review, but compared us to Ozzy. In my opinion, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

I live to play and write music. Hearing the personal impact some of our songs have had on fans makes some of the sacrifice of living a normal life worth it. I also get to tour the world with my best friends. I guess that’s living the dream. Although, I didn’t think the dream would be this tough some days.

8. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Most of the time we are hanging out it’s in the hotel before or after the show. Jose is the food guy. He tells us what’s around to eat and what’s good.  We all crack that beer at the same time, and the acoustic is always around but we are so busy on the road.  It makes it out for some seaside jams after all night hangs for the most part.

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

I hung out with Isaac Brock from Modest Mouse a couple times. He’s someone I really look up to as a songwriter, but I don’t get star struck. We are all just people.

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

That’s a tough one.  Maybe a professional cat caretaker, if that’s a thing – just hang out with cats all day. I’d do that.  Or maybe owning a record store. I love to collect records and search out new music.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

We all make mistakes, but I wouldn’t say I have regrets. That’s how you learn in the early days and still even now. There are probably a few things I could mention but it’s a little too personal – you have to buy a few rounds before you get that kind of dirt.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Pet Sounds. It’s so ahead of its time. I would have liked to have been there with Brian Wilson seeing it all come out of his head. I’d say “God Only Knows” is the best song ever written, and Paul McCartney agrees with me.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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