Road warriors Electromatic like it loud and fast

by Ryan Snyder

They don’t actually consider themselves a punk band, but Electromatic is truly thankful for the alternative music scene that supports other bands of that nature. It has, after all, given them assurance of not just places to make a name for themselves, but a place to crash while on the road. You could really say that it is that perspective that defines punk rock moreso than the music. Though their music definitely has a punk aesthetic to it, it is only one genre from which the band draws inspiration. It could be more accurately described as a highly inspired brand of surf rock, with its fast guitar, thrashing drums and shouted vocals. Their playing packs a ton of energy and fits the oftenimprovised underground venues well. Singer and guitarist Mike Fowle, also known as Captain Mike, likes to refer to Electromatic as simply a rock band. “We just like to play rock n’ roll,” Fowle stated. “Sometimes the crowds at those places yell and say that we aren’t punk enough, but that’s alright.” The band formed about three years ago when Fowle, his brother and bassist Nate Lightning got together on occasion to play casually. As the trio gradually got more and more serious about their jam sessions, they decided to throw a show in their apartment to get a feel for live performance ability. “I thought we did pretty well our first show, even if we weren’t very tight,” Fowle said. “Of course, it was mainly our friends there, so they were going to be supportive.” Drum duties were handed to Bill Torkowitz and guitarist Kenneth Saunders joined the band to turn the trio into a foursome. Saunders would

often jam with Fowle and Lightning, but never showed an interest in performing until accepting an invitation earlier in the year. His musical background differs greatly from the other members, drawing on the moodier sounds of ’90s grunge for inspiration. “Kenneth’s playing and songwriting has definitely added something that wasn’t there before,” said Lightning. “You can really tell the difference in stuff we played before he came on and now.” The band also looks heavily to the Pixies and early Beatles to shape their sound — especially Lightning, who relied on the simple bass lines of both to quickly learn his instrument. “I picked it up about ten years ago and started playing, but joined the Army and had to put it down for a while,” Lightning noted. Since becoming more serious about their music, they’ve played all over the Piedmont and eastern North Carolina and hope to book shows in the mountains soon, particularly Asheville. Fowle says that Electromatic’s best shows have come three hours away in Greenville, at an obscure venue called the Spazzatorium Galleria. “That place is awesome,” Fowle stated. “We showed up and weren’t even sure if it was the right place since it didn’t have a sign outside.” As a place that would make a hole in the wall look like the Fillmore, the Spazzatorium exudes counter-culture charm like few clubs can. It’s the kind of place that would make you wonder if a group of squatters had just broken into a condemned office space. “There were a bunch of dirty mattresses upstairs,” Lightning added. “They had a lot of weird stuff going on.” Of course, it’s the underground scene that has allowed Electromatic to thrive. The band crashes with hardcore punk band Princess & the Criminals whenever they play in Eastern NC, which is crucial when they expect to earn very little from their shows to begin with. “We meet a lot of really cool people whenever we go on the road to play,” Lightning said. “That’s important to us because it’d be really tough to expand beyond this area otherwise.” The band is not afraid to jump out of that scene in attempts to nail down their sound. Fowle says that Electromatic is constantly experimenting with new styles and is currently work on radically different rhythmic qualities. “Our new stuff is coming out soon and it has a lot of jazz and samba incorporated, so it’s not so much punk anymore,” Fowle said. “We still like to play loud and fast, though.”