HEAD AUTOMATICA Feel-good hit feels fine to band
One band member used to be in a hard-core act.
By JOHN BENSON
For many music fans, certain songs will always be attached to a moment in time.
For example, baby boomers may often relate The Doors' "Light my Fire" with the summer of 1967. Or Gen Xers may remember how Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me" ruled the summer of 1988.
As for a song to define the summer of 2006, there's a good argument to give Head Automatica the nomination with its alternative-rock hit "Graduation Day." Band visionary Daryl Palumbo accepted the faux designation with aplomb.
"It wasn't our intention but obviously when you're a pop band, it's just the nature of the beast," said Palumbo, calling from Florida. "I think it's pretty great. I'm glad we made a feel-good song for the summer of 2006."
For Palumbo, the jump into the mainstream has been relatively painless. As a member of hard-core act Glassjaw for over a decade, the singer decided to form Head Automatica as an alt-rock side project a few years ago.
While its 2004 debut album "Decadence" attracted a small audience, the band's latest album "Propaganda," which features lead single "Graduation Day," was released at a seemingly perfect time where alt radio was once again looking for hooky melodies.
The New York City native said he had an epiphany during the recording of "Decadence," on songs such as "Beating Heart Baby" and "The Razor," that Head Automatica would eschew the electronic meanderings of its first album for more of a power-pop approach on its follow-up.
"I was really moving towards doing ridiculously melodic and catchy three-minute pop songs," Palumbo said. "I could have told you what direction it was going to go in two and a half years ago."
Already looking ahead, Palumbo said the band's next project shifts gears with a darker approach in both style and substance, while still maintaining an emphasis on melodies. In the meantime, Head Automatica will remain on the road promoting "Propaganda" for as long as possible.
With a second single "Lying Through Your Teeth" already planned, the band is on the road, including a Taste of Cleveland appearance Monday at the Tower City Amphitheater.
It appears as though lightning has struck twice for the gifted Palumbo, with Glassjaw accepted within the hardcore scene and Head Automatica making inroads in alternative circles. Even though there's quite an expanse in styles between the bands, the singer doesn't see it that way.
"It makes a lot of sense," Palumbo said. "There's always a lot of melody behind Glassjaw and a lot of weird tongue-in-cheek sarcasm. So I think I brought a lot of sarcasm with me, also some melody and expanded on that. My favorite part of Glassjaw was the melody and that's the biggest emphasis with Head Automatica."
He added, "As much melody as possible. More melody than is even needed."