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'Louder' EP
Out now

Johnny Main

johnny main


US Metal band Autograph hail from Pasadena, California where they were formed by Steve Plunkett in late 1983.

Plunkett had recently left the band Silver Condor after appearing on their 'Trouble at Home' opus and Autograph (the name having been inspired by the Def Leppard song 'Photograph'), was originally envisaged as a solo vehicle for him.

Plunkett enlisted the help of guitarist Steve Lynch (with whom Plunkett had worked with in the band Looker) and bass player Randy Rand (who Plunkett had crossed paths with in the Pasadena club scene) to fill out Autograph's debut line up.

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Over the next couple of years, Autograph would have mixed fortunes. On the upside, they recorded some demos that were heard by Andy Johns, a mutual friend of the band who had been involved in albums by acts including Led Zeppelin, Blind Faith, Free as well as West, Bruce and Laing.

Johns invited the band to Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles to re-record their demos in a professional environment and the bonus was that they would be able to do it free of charge.

The band's good fortune continued when these tapes were played to (then) Van Halen front man David Lee Roth who invited the band to open for Van Halen, the only unsigned band to do so, on their hugely successful1984 tour which consisted of over one hundred dates in North America.

These Van Halen live dates ensured that Autograph were noticed by the fans and the record companies, and the band soon put pen to paper when they signed a contract with RCA Records in late 1984.

The band's debut album, 'Sign In Please', was released in October 1984 with the track 'Turn Up the Radio' being the first hit single for the band. Further singles were released from the album, but none hit the heights that 'Turn Up the Radio' did.

A second album, 'That's the Stuff' followed in 1985, and sold well almost achieving Gold status in the US, even though the two singles released from it failed to set the charts alight.

After a protracted absence, their third album 1987's 'Loud and Clear', saw the light of day, which saw Ozzy Osbourne appear in the music video of the title track.

A cameo appearance for the whole band in the Dudley Moore film 'Like Father, Like Son' followed, as did several appearances on MTV's 'Headbangers Ball' but the album was deemed not to be a big success, and saw the band eventually leaving RCA in early 1988. With their best years behind them, the band struggled on before eventually splitting up in December 1989.

In 2002, Plunkett resurrected the name with a new line up (under the Autograph v2.02 moniker), and the band released a brand new album 'Buzz' the following spring. This new band was destined not to last long, however, and imploded in 2005.

Fast forward to 2013, and the idea for a reunion of the original line up was mooted, but Plunkett advised Lynch and Rand that he wasn't interested so he was subsequently replaced in the new line up by Simon Daniels, who already had a successful solo career as well as stints in bands such as with Jailhouse and Flood.

The new line up was completed in 2014 when drummer Marc Wieland signed up. Since their reformation, the band have been busy touring the world including appearances at Monsters of Rock Cruise, M3 Rock Festival, The Halfway Jam and Firefest UK, but the 'Louder' EP is their first release since 2003 and their first without Plunkett.

This new EP serves simply as a taster of where the band are now, and the inclusion of a version of arguably their biggest hit is an obvious choice. 'Turn Up The Radio' is not only their signature song but it's also a bonafide rock classic too, that has been played thousands of times on radio and adorned a huge number of rock compilation albums all over the world. This live version not only serves the song itself well, but it also shows you how good the band still sound live on stage.

As far as the rest of the tracks go, there's a good selection of solid rock songs. Kicking things off is the anthemic 'You Are Us, We Are You' where the title is repeated time and again but it's fine in a gleeful way so doesn't get tiresome. The catchy chorus is backed up by the chunky guitar riff and the guitar solo from Steve Lynch is nothing short of exceptional.

On the other hand, you have a darker (or should that be more serious) sounding number in 'I Lost My Mind In America' which is led by the guitar before the harmony vocals on the chorus courtesy of Lynch and Rand which are delightful, and a definite plus point in the band's favour.

These harmonies are notoriously difficult to get right, but these guys seem to have it down to a fine art. Lynch's guitar bides its time in the background but when it eventually comes into its own, it does so in spectacular fashion in a well thought out and expertly played solo section.

Drummer Marc Wieland keeps the solid beat going during 'Every Generation' while Daniels gives what could be one of his finest performances here and only strengthens his position of vocalist and front man.

'Watch In Now' has Rand getting his moment in the spotlight during the intro laying down a thunderous rhythm before the vocals come in. It's another slow and steady number and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that as it enables the band to show their talent pool off.

Of course the catchy chorus is there with some theatrical vocal expressions from Daniels enlivening it a bit but all in all, like the EP as a whole, it's all good stuff.

You can see Autograph live here:
Saturday 27th February – Kansas Pavilions, Park City
Sunday 3rd April – Rockfest 80's, Markham Park, Sunrise
Saturday 1st October – Monsters of Rock Cruise (West), Los Angeles

'Louder' EP Track Listing:
You Are Us, We are You
I Lost My Mind in America
Every Generation
Watch It Now
Turn Up the Radio (Live)

Autograph are:
Simon Daniels – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar
Steve Lynch – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Randy Rand – Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals
Marc Wieland – Drums

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