C.M. French talks about Annie Automatic
The Rock Band Annie Automatic’s limited edition comic-book “Killer in Disguise.” was a premium Give Away at the San Diego Comic-Con. The band gave away 10,000 copies. “Killer in Disguise” gives fans a unique opportunity to see another side to Annie Automatic and the story behind their music. Annie’s C.M. French was nice enough to stop by First Comics News and catch our readers up on all things Annie Automatic before “Killer in Disguise” is released August 23rd.
First Comics News: It’s an interesting idea to promote an album with a comic book. Who’s idea was this?
C.M. French: It was mine, actually.
I was in Hawaii with my girl last year, just before Comic-Con (2010), and I was thinking about how much I loved the art of comic books growing up and what an awesome chance it would be to dive head-first into the myth of “Annie Automatic”. She loved the idea, and I immediately called Joey Feldman about it, and off we went.
1st: “Fighting Chances” didn’t have a comic, what makes “Don’t Look Down” the perfect album for a comic?
French: With “The Fighting Chances EP”, I was really just seizing the opportunity to make something fun and different real fast, with a collection of super-talented friends. I think that EP was written, produced and made available within a matter of weeks, actually. But with “Don’t Look Down” I spent a lot more time really making a record. We got to focus on each song, spend some quality time crafting it and expanding on the sound and concepts behind “Annie Automatic”. It became obvious that there’s so much story behind it all, it just started to make sense to back it up with something like this comic. The stars lined up right, and it was born!
French: We’re working on setting it up as a digital download through an independent Comic Distribution app – which I’m excited about, cause it looks really cool on the iPad – and it’s already processing through our online store, so physical copies will be purchasable from there as well. Plus, I like to give things away free whenever possible, so we’ll continue to give free PDF copies as prizes for contests online, too.1st: How do Annie Automatic fans who didn’t go to the San Diego Comic Con get a copy of the comic?
1st: The giveaway was the zero issue, how many issues are planned?
French: Yes, well “Issue #0″ is something we’ve seen done by all the greats. It’s a teaser.
With our concepts, matched with the shockingly expansive story, mapped out by our friend and writer Sam Scott, there is the potential for many more issues. It all depends on what happens from here, based on the response we get from this first one. If someone wants to help us continue to get these done, at better and better quality, we definitely will. We were just happy to be able to do this one ourselves, avoiding all the corporate red tape and just have fun, and get it directly to the readers.
French: We do have a limited remaining supply, strictly for sale and giveaways, and for family and friends (it was tough to hang onto any copies from Comic-Con), but if someone were to write to firstname.lastname@example.org we could work it out.1st: If a comic shop owner wants to carry the comic, how do they arrange that?
1st: How does the comic tie in with the music?
French: Well, the story of the Annie character dives into our musical inspiration, and answers the question “Who is Annie Automatic?”. The story itself, as well as the dialogue, also ties into song lyrics and titles, to broaden the ideas from the songs. “Killer In Disguise” is a reference to the song “K.I.D.”, for example, and there’s an awesome tear-out page in the book itself with “DON’T LOOK DOWN” highlighting the team diving from a skyscraper in Downtown LA, referencing the album – makes an awesome poster! It’s sort of a parallel representation. As artists, I believe we could be considered Time-Travelers, in a way, as we create and re-create moments and experiences, and make them available in the present moment (which is represented by us being Time-Travelers in the comic form).
From the Beatles and The Beach Boys to Bowie and Iggy to Deftones, Bjork and Nine Inch Nails, we’re fairly musically schizophrenic.
I’d also say some of our more current influences are Muse, Foo Fighters, Silversun Pickups, We Were Promised Jetpacks, and lots of little unknown Indie bands, of course.
Speaking for myself, my main influence as an artist is John Lennon.
1st: A few single have already been released, what type of reaction have you received so far?
French: The response we got in the winter, with the 3 singles we released then, was great!
People seem to really love the acoustic version of Something Sacred, which is nice cause I love that song. And people seem to be really digging the new stuff, “Burn This Prison”, which we released a couple weeks ago, and “Miss McKenzie” which came out yesterday. These new ones, off the upcoming album, are definitely on a different level, so we’re really excited to see what people think of them. I just love hearing that the music is hitting people’s lives, that they’re having fun with it, and it’s affecting them. That’s the goal.
French: We have a crazy listening party planned for the next couple weeks, at Nightbird Studios, underneath the Sunset Marquis Hotel – which should be a blast – and we’re just gearing up for a big launch and a record release show at Club Moscow in Hollywood on August 24th, the day after the release. We’ve been in the studio for so long, so excited to get back to the stage.1st: The comic is a fun promotion, but you’re a serious rock band releasing it’s first full-length studio album, what are your plans for the August 23rd release?
1st: Where are you going for the “Don’t Look Down” tour?
French: We’ll be everywhere we can.
Unfortunately, without label support at the moment, it’s tough to be able to get all that far out of California on our own, but we hope to get out to see everyone as soon as possible.
We’ll be in Orange County, San Diego, and San Francisco through the fall, dates are still confirming. We’ll be doing lots of college stops. AnnieAutomatic.com for all updates.
1st: Any other surprises the fans should be looking out for?
French: Yes! Beginning work on a really beautiful little acoustic collection of songs, which will probably be out in the fall of this year. That’s going to be great, and perfect for reading comic books by candlelight…