When Glassjaw frontman Daryl Palumbo needed a name for his new group, he found inspiration from an obscure freestyle rapper he knows in New Jersey. "The guy had used the word 'automatica' in a rhyme, and I kind of liked it, so I took it," Palumbo said.
It might seem unusual for a hardcore punk singer to pilfer from a freestyle rapper, but then again, Palumbo's Head Automatica, whose debut album, Decadence, comes out in late July, is anything but hardcore punk. The disc is filled with electronic-embellished rock and pop songs that pay homage to Nick Lowe, Squeeze, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine and Joe Jackson.
"This is the music I've really been inspired by," he said. "With Glassjaw I've done heavy, angry music, and now I'm not hating on anyone and I'm not mad. I just want to hop around and dance a little bit."
Palumbo chose the title Decadence because he wanted to play up the kind of glamour and self-indulgence he has thus far avoided in his career. "A decadent lifestyle feels good," he said. "It takes its toll on you, but it's nice sometimes to have everything feel flashy and larger than life."
Joining Palumbo on his quest are master producer and Gorillaz member Dan "The Automator" Nakamura, who programmed the computers, and Glassjaw drummer Larry Gorman, who laid down the beats.
"When I told Larry I wanted to do something different, he was totally into it," Palumbo said. "And then I met Dan the Automator through some mutual friends, and he was anxious to hop on board as well. How lucky can you get? I can't think of anybody who makes better beats than Automator."
The trio recorded most of the disc in three months at Nakamura's studio in San Francisco. Then, since Palumbo had some heavier material left over, he went back in with rock producer Howard Benson (Cold, P.O.D.) to record "Beating Heart Baby" and "The Razor."
"That guy's a god," Palumbo said of Benson. "He's amazing. It was really funny, though, because he's used to doing this heavier rock stuff, and I was telling him, 'I want this part to sound like Squeeze, then the next passage should be more like Nick Lowe.' He grew up on all that music, so he was stoked, but he laughed. He couldn't believe he was talking to a 24-year-old kid."
Hardcore loyalists needn't worry that Glassjaw have shattered. As much as Palumbo is excited about continuing to tour and record with Head Automatica, he's equally excited about returning to Glassjaw when the time is right.
"We're just on hiatus right now," Palumbo said. "I have unfinished business here, and then when I'm done, I'll jump back in and get angry again with Glassjaw."