Were they punk ? The answer is probably not, though reading the excerpts below and our interview you would be forgiven for thinking they were one of the main innovators. The single you have to judge them by is When The Tanks Roll Over Poland Again / Watch Her Now (Island 1978). Famous for its metallic sleeve, this single has been known to reach a price of up to £40 from collectors. In effect its a weak powerpoppy single in the vein of bands like The Jags or Tonight. That said they were reputed to be quite a lively live act. Signed to Island Records, who like a lot of other labels must have been looking to increase its punk portfolio, they were quickly dropped. Strangely though The Automatics released an album this year(2002) that redid the song and surprise surprise turned it into an absolute belter.
It has been 40 years since the release of an Automatics single from its English label, Island Records. The Automatics were a seminal punk group who, despite considerable ground swell popularity, broke up after the release of just one single. That single went to number one on the English Alternative Charts in 1978.
.Like most punk groups we didn’t last long. We played too fast, stayed up too late, and burned out quick We came up through a time when you were more likely to get beaten up than paid every time you played. We played on the circuit with X-ray Specs, the Members and Eddie and the Hot Rods. We hung with Johnnie Thunders (who sometimes played with the group). We thought the Sex Pistols were wimps and I still meet critics and fans who swear we were the best group they ever saw. We never played more than a half hour (even when we were headlining at the Marquee as we did every Thursday night, or playing the Reading Festival) and nobody ever complained!
This record was many months in the making and when Island called me up to the office to explain why the entertainment expenses were twice the recording expenses, I looked them right in the eye and told them that it took a lot of very expensive drugs to make the kind of music we were making. The single was released and went straight to #1 in the Alternative charts (unseating the Pistols) , but there were accusations that we were Nazis and racist (despite playing with a West Indian keyboard player) which our liberal bosses at Island were quick to get P.C. on. The Jewish League attended one of our gigs and cleared us, but Island canned the recording and gave our studio time, producer, and equipment to bunch of kids from Ireland who didn’t drink, smoke, or misbehave…..called U2. Its too late to correct the wrong. Its too late to bring it all back to life, but let this recording at least stand to mark the grave.” Modest eh !!!