(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #383: Autobahn

By on Tuesday, 8th March 2016 at 12:00 pm

Editor’s note: we’re making some exciting changes in the way we cover SXSW 2016 this year, especially in the way we preview all the bands that we want to introduce you to before the big event in Austin in March. Read all about our big plans here.

Autobahn are a spirited post-punk five-piece from Leeds. They will be taking their brand of haunting melancholy from the post-industrial North to SXSW 2016 in Austin next week. Fronted by Craig Johnson on vocals, with guitarists Gavin Cobb, Michael Pedel, bassist Daniel Sleight (bass) and Liam Hilton on drums, the band released their debut LP ‘Dissemble’ back in August 2015 on Tough Love Records. They kicked off this year with a winter tour across Europe, which wrapped up in February.

If you haven’t heard of the band before, don’t let the name ‘Autobahn’ fool you into thinking they have anything to do with the German highway system or the famous fourth studio album by the electronic band Kraftwerk. The band, who have been together since 2013, have created a confident and ballsy debut LP that positively oozes a raw, feral and unforgiving attitude. There is a dark intensity to ‘Dissemble’ that demands to be paid attention to.

It’s the dark intensity that draws comparisons between the band with the likes of Joy Division and the Chameleons. Like Ian Curtis and Mark Burgess before him, Autobahn lead singer Johnson has an intense depth to his vocals that border on gloomy. Similar also musically, a number of Autobahn’s tracks, such a ‘Society’ and ‘Beautiful Place to Die’, open with the biting bass or guitar sounds reminiscent of those in Joy Division and Chameleons songs.

‘Dissemble’ is a powerhouse of an album, bursting with confidence and atmosphere. When listening to the album, it’s easy to believe that you’ve somehow managed to tune into a radio station that has tapped into a frequency sent directly from the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. It was recorded in a disused church over a 6-week period, and it’s almost as though the desolate and eerie gloom of such a setting has seeped into the fabric of the record.


‘Society’, Autobahn’s most played track on Spotify, is a stand-out favourite from the album, from the jarring bass guitar introducing the track, to the dense drawl of Johnson’s vocals. The song builds into a solid track that pulsates with the energy of controlled chaos. The lyrics, whilst not wholly decipherable, challenge the warped version of reality that is imagined throughout the LP. ‘Immaterial Man’ is another standout, and like ‘Society’, opens with a firm and ominous bass line. The trippy bass continues throughout, layered over with intense drumbeats and resonant guitars, with Johnson’s melancholy voice moving through the song. They’ve started out their career with such a fearless and intense record that it’s going to be exciting to see where they go next.

Autobahn are set to appear at SXSW 2016 in Austin, as well as the London Calling Festival in Amsterdam, both in March.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

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