WHO: Dan Pantenburg (guitar, vocals), Evan Leikam (drums), Vaughn Leikam (bass).
FOR FANS OF: Japandroids, the Thermals, Titus Andronicus, Wavves.
SOUNDS LIKE: Spending your last few bucks on a six-pack and not feeling one damn bit bad about it.
Autonomics' louder-than-life noise-pop songs are perfect for putting off the mundanities of the everyday in favor of partying all night and sleeping till 2 pm. But don't let the tongues-out, fingers-in-ears irreverence fool you—when it comes to music, Autonomics are dead serious. At least, they have been since arriving in Portland from Bend seven years ago.
"Bend was cool to us, and we were getting good reception, so we thought, 'Hey, maybe this will work,'" says drummer Evan Leikam, whose twin brother, Vaughn, plays bass. The transition from Bend wasn't without its hiccups—when they arrived here, the band didn't know anybody, and most nights were spent playing video games, practicing and getting stoned. "We sort of toiled for five years," Leikam says. "We had to start at the bottom. It was an intimidating thing, moving to a town with like 2,000 active bands."
Still, those early years weren't all for naught.
"We've been a band for nine years," says singer-guitarist Dan Pantenburg, "but that first half we spent getting good and learning how to be a band."
Those formative years saw a lot of mistakes, and taught them the humble sting of performing poorly in front of a crowd. The band now abides by a strict two-drink rule before they play, and thanks to a rather awkward show a few years back, they don't get stoned before their sets, either.
"[Now] we try be as frosty as we can be," Evan Leikam says, "because…if people pay money to see a show, it's kind of a 'fuck you' to the people who came if we can't perform well."
The years booking two shows per week and an almost religious devotion to their music yielded a strong local following and has made Autonomics a mainstay in their music community here in Portland. Their local reputation helped land Modest Mouse producer Jeremy Sherrer on Debt Sounds, and the opportunity to record at Isaac Brock's Ice Cream Party Studios. ("We got to smoke weed with Isaac Brock out of a tomahawk," Evan adds, beaming with pride.)
With the world boiling over with mayhem in every direction, Autonomics' upcoming Debt Sounds—a tongue-in-cheek wink to the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds—is one long bong rip that will mute the world's ridiculous horrors long enough to share with you the band's sweet combination of surf, punk and pop. Filled with fuzzy guitars and intoxicating hooks, it is a testament to the revelation Pantenburg had after listening to Wavves' stoner-punk classic King of the Beach: "After hearing that, I learned we can be shitty and still make pop music that's pleasing to the ear."
SEE IT: Autonomics play Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., with Ice Queens and Devy Metal, on Saturday, Sept. 2. 9 pm. $7 advance, $12 day of show. 21+.