Autograph have been creating a killer new identity for themselves. With the release of the Louder E.P., their first collection of new music since 2003, they have re-established themselves. Shockwave sat down with the guys at M3 to discuss the completion of their full-length record, upcoming tour dates and the recent death of original drummer Keni Richards.
I’m sitting with Autograph who just got done playing at M3. How was the set?
Collectively: It was great. Amazing. Fantastic. It was cool.
So, it’s actually been a couple of years since you’ve played M3. What can you tell us about this set, with this crowd at M3 versus when you played here a few years ago?
Steve Lynch: Yeah, we played in the forest before and now we played the main stage on the pavilion. But, each show was really great. We were still really new at the first show.
Simon Daniels: That was three years ago.
Steve: Three years ago, actually, it was 2014.
Randy Rand: We’ve played a few shows in between then and now.
Simon: It was our first show to a larger audience at M3 so we got some video and stuff which is nice. It’s been a nice continuation and just feels like we’ve been family for a long time.
Definitely. The last time I saw you guys was, I think, about two years ago now at Fish Head Cantina.
Collectively: Yeah, at Fish Head!
Steve: I think we had to finish the interview, right?
Totally. It’s not that it got split, it just got pushed. So, we just had it afterwards right by the bus.
Steve: That’s right.
So, it’s been a little while now since you put out the Louder record. which is the first release with the new lineup and new songs for the fans. Talk about putting that together, putting together the songs, putting them out, and the fan’s reaction.
Steve: Yes, the EP. Well, since we’re a new band, we wanted to put out what we sound like now and give them a taste of that. But, we’ve finished a full LP now and that is going to be released soon. But, we’re waiting for the right deal and so we’re shopping right now.
Simon: The Louder EP, we did it all ourselves and we want to attempt to go to the next level. We’re not in a hurry or anything, we’re just trying to do something that projects the songs in a higher way and to more people. So, you need a little help from other things and getting people interested. So, we’re talking to people.
How is everything for you, Marc? Besides drumming and laying everything down, what do you think about the record?
Marc Wieland: Well, the record is going to be the five songs from the EP plus five new songs. I recorded and mixed everything.
Randy: He recorded them in his studio. Marc was the engineer of the whole thing.
Marc: I put everything together. It turned out amazing, it really did. It’s a big variety of songs. We have an amazing, killer ballad on there as well as a new single, which is called “Get Off Your Ass” which will get people to get off their ass. I’m really, really excited about it. It turned out really good.
How do you, as a group, working together now for quite a while, how do you feel that all the new songs now and your chemistry meshes with the older music?
Randy: A little bit of the old because we have the big choruses and stuff but it’s just new.
Simon: It’s melodic, the lyrics are uplifting, we’re not going dark but we’re incrementing a little more timeless rock and roll vibe, guitar oriented. So, it’s new but certain elements are similar.
Marc: The formula stayed the same, basically.
Do you have a title for the new record that you’re able to announce?
Steve: It is going to be called Get Off Your Ass.
This question is aimed more at Steve and Randy but Marc and Simon, please, you are more then welcome to chime in with any relationship stories. I’d love for you to talk about Keni (Richards,) who we unfortunately lost, as a band mate, as a friend. For the people who don’t know, we lost him very recently and there’s only so much, very little, but so much that has been announced as a cause. But, talk about him as a person and as a band mate.
Steve: He was crazy as hell but he was a good guy at heart, really good guy at heart and he was great on those first three albums (Sign In Please, That’s The Stuff, Loud And Clear) and then he actually left the latter part of the original Autograph to play with Dirty White Boy, then we got a different drummer, Eddie Cross, and we continued to record because our RCA deal was up and we were getting ready to record a three album deal with Epic Records but then the grunge-thing came along and happened and everything went from happy to depression and suicide and heroin. [Laughs] We weren’t ready to commit suicide yet and so, we decided to bail out of the business for a while. But, Keni had lived out in the desert for a while and went through a lot of different problems with different substance abuse and everything and that was unfortunate. He got mixed up with the wrong kind of people and something happened there, it’s a homicide investigation actually.
Oh, is it really?
Steve: All I can say is it’s a homicide investigation and I really don’t know much more then that. But, of course, when you’re dealing with that kind of people and people are doing heroin and meth and all that, they’re not saints. Let’s put it that way.
Absolutely. Randy, do you want to add anything?
Randy: He said everything.
Simon, Marc did either of you have a relationship or get to meet Keni?
Simon: I did because, for a couple of months, he recruited me and we talked and he was a person and then all of a sudden, from night to day, he just switched to a person I didn’t quite recognize any more and just started making no sense. It was sad because, to me, nothing made any sense but we went from really good friends to enemies. Then, I just stayed away from it.
Steve: There’s one word that can sum that whole thing up and that’s “drugs.”
Simon: God bless him, ya know and we hadn’t had any contact with him, at all, for four years. So, we don’t know.
Randy: We really don’t know what happened. We’ve heard.
Just to close out the topic, how did you guys hear about him?
Steve: It was actually through someone I knew, through Facebook.
Randy: One of his friends.
Simon: One of his best friends and unfortunately, this was put out before his own family knew.
Damn it. I’ve heard stories like that a few times before and it happened in my personal life too.
Steve: Because with social media right now, it’s hard to keep it quite for any length of time at all.
Simon: Yeah, you can’t say anything. So, you have to be very careful with what you say and have respect for people you know.
That’s really unfortunate to hear that the family found out that way.
Simon: I found out because I saw it written on Facebook and someone was talking about it and one of his family members, that had his last name, said, “Wait, wait! I haven’t heard this. What are you guys talking about?! What!” It was like that. I think Keni was not very in touch with his family and was more in touch with these kinds of friends.
To bring things back around to a happy place and back to the current Autograph world, M3 has always been an earlier in the year festival so what do you have planned for the rest of the year? Do you have tours that you can announce?
Steve: We’re going to Virginia tomorrow and then we have a day off and then we’re going to Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. Then we have a little bit of time off and then we go to Mohegan Sun, that big casino in Connecticut which is great. This will be our third time back there and then we play Salt Lake City and Denver for a festival in Littleton.
Simon: The Freedom Festival.
Steve: Then the fun just keeps going. We have some Mid-West dates up to North Dakota and Wisconsin during the summer time which is really nice up there, rather then hitting it like we did earlier this year in the winter time which is no fun at all.
That’s great! Guys, thank you so much. I appreciate your time, it was great as always. Please, come right back around as soon as you can.
Collectively: Thank you!
Steve: It was great. Always happy to do an interview with you.
Catch Autograph on tour until the beginning of August. They will also be participating on 2018’s Monsters Of Rock cruise and keep an eye out for news of the upcoming record, Get Off Your Ass.