Autism’s new album Have you found peace? is out now.
Whatever happened to the concept album? There doesn’t seem to be as many around these days. From Ziggy Stardust to The Wall to Illinois, there have been some absolutely stellar concept records over the years. Happily, Lithuanian post-rock/post-metal outfit Autism seem to agree with me as their latest album, Have you found peace? is a seven track concept album that follows the story of a 16-year-old boy and aims to be a musical gesamtkunstwerk. I admire the ambition.
We sat down with Tomas (guitar) who detailed the concept for us, discussed the myriad of collaborations on the new record, and the beautiful design of the art on the new album.
Overblown: There’s quite a detailed concept story behind your new album ‘Have you found peace?’. What is the concept and how did it originate?
Tomas: The initial inspiration for the Have you found peace? concept accumulated while watching movies, documentaries and tv series like Twin Peaks, Hannibal, Mindhunter etc. The idea was to recreate the same dark, mysterious and detective-like cinematic atmosphere via music. So we decided to create a twisted short story about Nolan and his friend and in order to do that we had to create fake identities which had to look and feel very real. The story is being told in 6 letters that have been written to Nolan by his old friend, who is feeling guilty for causing a car accident which left Nolan with a lot of scars, both physical and mental. It was really a very interesting and hard project to work on.
Overblown: There are a number of guest appearances on the album. What did they add to the music and experience?
Tomas: The idea of working with guest musicians was growing for some time. We knew that in order to create the right atmosphere for the album, we needed to add some ambient / drone textures. That’s how we collaborated with Povilas from OORCHACH and Laurynas from GIRNŲ GIESMĖS. They are very good friends of ours and have been in the industrial electronics scene for decades, so this was a very natural process for us.
Also, in 2017 we played a few gigs with ROSK, a brilliant post-metal band from Poland, and we became very close friends. During one of the gigs, we asked if their vocalist Krzysztof would like to join us on stage and improvise some vocals for one of our new tracks. The result was so mind-blowing that we had to have him in our new album. So one thing led to the other and Krzysztof ended up doing vocals in one of the tracks and he became the voice of Nolan’s friend, who was writing all the letters.
And of course, we managed to fulfil our old dream of having saxophone on one of our tracks. Thanks to Valdas, who is also a drummer in a blackened hardcore band ERDVE, “Haunting Recollections” has a stunning saxophone solo. I am sure, that all these collaborations helped to elevate our music to the next level.
Overblown: The intro on the album is called ‘Rememorari’. According to Google that is Latin for ‘remember again’. How did you come across that word? How does it relate to the song and the album?
Tomas: You are very right. As I mentioned before, “Have you found peace?” story is about a man, who is being haunted by his memories and a sense of guilt. He believes, that if he will start writing those memories in letter form to his old friend Nolan, it will work as some sort of self-therapy. So I believe that “Rememorari” or “remember again” embraces the whole concept of the album perfectly.
Overblown: In terms of music, did you approach writing and recording this album in a different manner than your previous albums?
Tomas: The whole collaboration thing was a new experience for us this time. We had to compose a bit differently in order to leave space for guest musicians to add their magic. So this was probably the most different thing musically comparing to previous releases. But this time we already had a vision for a certain sound that we wanted to achieve, so at least the recording process was a bit easier than before.
Overblown: As always, your album artwork is quite arresting and evocative. Who created the album artwork? What is the concept behind it?
Tomas: My daily job is working as a graphic designer, so I’m always very picky when talking about visuals. It is always a challenge to do artwork for your own album because you are never happy with the result but this time I had a very clear vision how the artwork should look like and I am very happy that my good friends – photographer Laima and her boyfriend Anton agreed to help with that. Anton had to become the real face of Nolan – the fake identity that we created – and he is the main subject of the whole artwork. Because Nolan has been burned during the car accident in our story it was quite tricky to create realistic burnt marks on Anton, but I am happy with the final result.
Overblown: There is quite an expansive deluxe version of the new album. What does it include?
Tomas: The idea to do a deluxe collector edition of this album appeared in very early stages of the creative process. We wanted to do something special, something personal and handmade, so a decision was made to reveal all the details of our concept story in the deluxe edition. In order to do that, we had to create and write all 6 letters to Nolan (all of them were individually written via old typewriter). We also added some newspaper articles about the car accident, the report of Nolan missing and the end of missing person investigation. Also, we added some real photos of Nolan and his friend. The idea was to make our made-up story and fake identities feel as real as possible.
Overblown: Your music is quite cinematic. Do you use visuals when you play live?
Tomas: During our live shows we try to use visuals as often as we can. It’s not always possible, because each venue is different and some do not have the conditions needed, but using visuals is really important for us.
Overblown: What is your plan for the rest of 2019?
Tomas: Right now we are working hard on promoting the new album and getting ready to play some gigs in Lithuania, Poland and the Czech Republic. Also, we really hope to go on a small European tour in October, but nothing is confirmed yet.