What Is Automatic Pilot?
Automatic Pilot has been through many incarnations, and band members have come and gone over the years. Automatic Pilot was conceived shortly after the breakup of the band Friend of a Friend, as a whole new solo endeavor that cultivates every musical genre from a predilection of all kinds of different styles of indie rock with influences as varying as Wilco, Jeff Buckley, Matthew Sweet, Fiona Apple, Nick Drake and Bright Eyes. Automatic Pilot consists of James Eric Laczkowski, who composes experimental, ambient pop soundscapes, spliced with distorted noise rock, in a singer/songwriter acoustic environment. Automatic Pilot's records are available through ITunes and CDBaby. Although the line-up has fluctuated over the years, contributing members include Miriam Williams (who has played alongside Willie Nelson), Art Mayes, and Corey Rongers. James has gone on to make three impeccable records including the self-titled AP debut in 2003, New Clear Vision in 2004, and now Deathless in 2005 which he plans to promote with a short summer tour across the country. James has an undeniable knack for a catchy hook along with a love of experimental instrumentation, all saturated around emotionally naked lyrics and refined chord structure. There is simply no denying the breadth of this twentysomething's incredibly prolific talent. You'll Wake The Neighbors is a 15-track CD-R of recently uncovered B-sides and covers recorded from 2000-2005.
What Inspired The Recording Of Deathless?
After losing his father in 2002, James fell into a serious downward spiral and sought counseling as a result. Two years later, his fiancée left him and James lost the town home he was living in for the past seven years. While the house was on the market in the summer of 2004, waiting to be sold, James decided to utilize the basement space one last time before moving into a confined one-bedroom apartment. The outcome of those four months is now beautifully documented here on Deathless. James sequestered himself to get better both physically and mentally after recurring illness, and decided to become his own producer and engineer. His part-time studio drummer, Miriam Williams, left her drum set there, so he decided to play all instruments on this record including drums for the first time. James' goal was to cathartically record a backdrop to the tumultuous two years he endured through unrefined, organic methodology, which felt genuine to him and would emotionally resonate with the listeners. "It may be a cliché to say that music saved me, but in this case, it couldn't be truer. I really had no choice but to save myself because I was all alone for the first time in my life," says James. "I wanted the listener to be engaged on a different level than before. I wasn't too concerned with melody and pop rock conventions. A couple songs were written on-the-spot without any prior conception in my mind of what they would become. I would just set up, sit in front of the mic, and let whatever happen happen. If a song wanted to be seven minutes long, then so be it. I wanted the guitars to convey what I was feeling for me instead of letting the lyrics have jurisdiction."
What Does The Press Say About James?
Splendid Magazine proclaims "Arriving like a breath of fresh air after a long trek through the dank, oil-saturated air of a Ford assembly line, New Clear Vision delivers ten strong, well-intentioned tracks that address 2004's key social issues without pretension, without poison, without pompous attitude, without weird costumes or stage personalities. It's all about the songs. Automatic Pilot singer James Laczkowski's poignant, reverb-soaked performance evokes My Morning Jacket. From the effort he puts into his songs -- he sometimes tries too hard, straining his voice and strangling the notes -- you'd expect him to be a poor singer, but the reality is quite the opposite. He has plenty of vocal muscle, and his voice can be really gorgeous (refer to "Exhausted Memory's" chorus). He comes across as a kind of transcendent everyman -- one who succeeds against all odds. " (6/11/2004)
One Kind Radio "Taking on the singer/song writer skills of Grant Lee Phillips & Elliot Smith... James Laczkowski has the lyrical mastery to place together a well written song with a backdrop of emo-sub pop. I love a LP that can touch on such subjects as our government's super charged power from a witless leader, societies blind eye to unneeded deaths over seas, and the over spun marketing propaganda machine our media has since become. Ahh, yes... one great LP that touches on politics, society, and "The Man" --- John Bowles (3/1/04)
Greg Kot of The Chicago Tribune & Sound Opinions. "Automatic Pilot tucks introspective lyrics inside grand washes of shoegazer guitar." (February 2003)
Columbia College of Chicago. "With a potent combination of early Talking Heads, early Radiohead and early R.E.M., this band should have no trouble branching off and trying new sounds. Laczkowski's vocal mannerisms continue throughout their debut CD, alternating between nervous insecurity and reckless abandon." --- Collin Souter, (March 2002)
The Illinois Entertainer of Chicago. "[They] reach into and outside the realms of pop music to come up with something clever and unique..." --- (Dec, 2001).
The Muse Cafe, in Lansing, IL. "These guys get better every single time they play, both musically and in terms of the number of people they bring in. They're definitely on my 'A' list." --- Chris, (October 2001)
The Beat Magazine of NW Indiana & Chicago. "They are by far the most alternative band in the region. I mean this in the original sense of the word before alternative became an 'in-thing' to call any music. This is a band to follow, watch, and keep your eye on!" --- Dave Buco, (August 2001)
The Times of NW Indiana. "[James] is in a bit of a sonic flux... but has recently forged the new harder-edged sound akin to the Foo Fighters with a touch of Radiohead." --- Tom Lounges, (June 2001)
09/23/2004 - Front Porch Music, Valparaiso, IN (open mic)
09/17/2004 - The Muse Cafe, Lansing, IL (Download a video excerpt)
09/08/2004 - Crush, Chicago, IL
06/13/2004 - The Muse Cafe, Lansing, IL
05/13/2004 - Borders Books & Music, Highland, IN
03/30/2004 - Borders Books & Music, Highland, IN
12/13/2003 - The Muse Cafe, Lansing, IL
08/17/2003 - Coffee Creek Festival, Chesterton, IN (cancelled)
07/13/2003 - Rock N Roll Hall of Fame (Jeff Buckley Tribute) (cancelled)
10/15/2002 - The Muse Cafe, Lansing, IL
08/23/2002 - Sluggers - Orland Park, IL
08/09/2002 - The Muse Cafe - Lansing, IL
08/03/2002 - Uncommon Ground - Chicago, IL
10/05/2001 - Purdue University, Hammond, IN
09/27/2001 - The Muse Cafe, Lansing, IL
07/21/2001 - Soprano's, Griffith, IN
06/07/2001 - The Lake County Fairgrounds, Crown Point, IN
06/02/2001 - Cross-Town Voices Songwriter Showcase - Lansing, IL
01/25/2001 - Tower Records - Chicago, IL
12/15/2000 - Unicorn Cafe - Evanston, IL