Remain Clean 

Warning, Memphis: Automusik is the future. Automusik is now.

Everything you are about to read is true and unvarnished. It was Thursday, October 11th, an uncomfortably moist and sticky night, like the universe had wet its pants, and the air was full of thick smoke that billowed from the charred remains of the Public Eye.

It was exactly 8 in the p.m. when I pulled into the parking lot of Applebee's on Union, and I spotted her right away. She was waiting for me. Just like a robot. I wasn't expecting to see a sweet little brunette of a "female rock unit" holding up a dry erase board with my name written on it, but, then again, I wasn't exactly not expecting it either. I knew I was interviewing Automusik, a band of alleged cybernetic organisms collectively responsible for what have been without a doubt the most entertaining performances I've witnessed in my 16 years of watching Memphis music. Oh, there may have been better bands and better songs, but in terms of the total package nothing can compare to Automusik. From their brilliant deadpan choreography with its decidedly Soviet imagery to the digital animation that punctuates the show, Automusik is unlike anything that ever cropped up in the clubs of this city that rock built. I expected to be surprised.

"That would be me," I told the female rock unit who silently turned and sashayed into Applebee's. I sashayed right behind her. She sat down next to her bandmates in a booth near the back. Automusik himself was in the center dressed in his white lab coat, impenetrable black goggles, black latex gloves, and blank affect. He had a keyboard of sorts strapped to his forearm and it was connected to a set of computer speakers. A blond female rock unit sat to the right of Automusik looking almost as grim.

Flyer: Are you in the employ of Applebee's International?

Automusik (presses a button on his arm and a digitized female voice replies): Automusik replies "no."

Are you planning on entering into the employ of Applebee's International?

(digitized female voice): Automusik replies "no." One moment, please.

(Automusik whispers to Female Rock Unit #1)

Female Rock Unit #1: Automusik says we will someday all be in the employ of Applebee's.

(Automusik takes up a purple toy keyboard and plays a little melody. The Rock Units read from a prepared script.)

FRU#1: I am Female Rock Unit #1.

FRU#2: I am Female Rock Unit #2.

FRU#1 and #2 (alternating): We are Automusik. Remember to speak loudly and in a clear voice. Remember that you are representing the world of music journalism. Please listen intently to all responses. Keep your hands and fingers away from Automusik. All verbalization must be in the form of an interrogative. Please refrain from any and all displays of emotion. Remind yourself comfortably and quietly that you are in the presence of automated celebrities and act accordingly. The female units are not for sale or rent or lease, please do not ask. Address all queries to the conglomerate known as Automusik, individualism does not exist.

Does Automusik have a "prime directive"?

(Automusik presses a button on his arm and the digitized female voice replies) Automusik replies "no."

Is Automusik autonomous?

(Automusik presses a button on his arm and the digitized female voice replies)

Automusik replies "yes."

What is the function of Automusik?

(Automusik whispers to Female Rock Unit #2)

FRU#2: The purpose of Automusik is to seek out and destroy all inferior, all unclean, and all literally sub-par forms of music under light.

That's its purpose. What's its function?

(Automusik whispers to Female Rock Unit #1)

FRU#1: The function of Automusik is to entertain and to stimulate and to have sex and to procreate and to spawn upon the world a new generation who understands real music.

Is being a celebrity an important thing to Automusik?

(Automusik whispers to Female Rock Unit #2)

FRU#2: Celebrity is the most important thing in the entire world because to be a celebrity is to be a king or a queen. Celebrity is more important than a president. Julia Roberts runs our country. You should listen to everything Julia Roberts has to say.

What are the origins of Automusik?

(Automusik whispers to Female Rock Unit #1)

FRU#1: Automusik was born at an unknown time in an unknown place for an unknown reason.

Why is Automusik in Memphis?

(Automusik whispers to Female Rock Unit #2)

FRU#2: Memphis is the birthplace of ridiculous music, silly people, and general stupidity. Automusik is here because it is time for the people in this village to learn what real rock-and-roll is about.

Automusik plays rock-and-roll?

(Automusik whispers to Female Rock Unit #1)

FRU#1: You cannot come by rock-and-roll. You are born with it. In our case it is our destiny.

How has Automusik's, uh, "rock-and- roll" been received by Memphis?

(Automusik whispers to Female Rock Unit #1)

FRU#1: In many cases we have been received well. Automusik has had many pairs of female undergarments tossed upon the stage like dead babies. In other cases Automusik has met the shame and the scorn of the lowlife, low-brained mainstream music community of Memphis. Many people have told Automusik to leave town. Many people have criticized Automusik because we do not have stringed instruments that plug into an electrical source.

Is Automusik against stringed instruments that plug into an electrical source?

(Automusik whispers to Female Rock Unit #2)

FRU#2: Automusik has grown weary of little boys flailing their arms with guitars. Automusik has grown weary and tired of the tiresome soul-searching and whining of complaining little boys in dirty T-shirts and ratty hair and funny faces complaining about their girlfriends, about their spouses, and their unrequited love.

What are the things that concern Automusik?

(Automusik whispers to Female Rock Unit #1)

FRU#1: Automusik is concerned that Aerosmith is still alive. That people purchase products. Automusik is concerned about nothing.

Are there any products Automusik would like to promote?

(Automusik whispers to Female Rock Unit #2)

FRU#2: Automusik would like to manufacture a happy carbonated beverage.

(The noise in Applebee's becomes unbearably loud.)

You'll have to forgive me, Automusik, but all the crazy crap and the loud soft pop here at Applebee's is making me insane. I can't concentrate.

(Automusik whispers to Female Rock Unit #1)

FRU#1: Automusik believes that what you call the soft pop is in actuality the most important thing in people's lives and that is why Automusik is here.

And not the chicken fingers?

(Automusik whispers to Female Rock Unit #2)

FRU#2: Fuck chicken fingers.


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