Who: Auto Switch
Where: Buffalo Bill’s July 23, 24
Where: Kokanee Crankworx, July 25
Auto Switch may juggle through music genres rooted in rock and roll, but the big switch really came when collaborators Scott Rocker and Dr. Ramsey decided to give up their day jobs as CTV technical director and medical genetics researcher to devote themselves to making what they call “buzzy rock and roll” full time.
“I never really left music,” said Rocker, who was the original singer for Village Idiot, the band that later became Nickelback. “When I played with them, it was just a cover band; more about blues jams. I was in it for the party back then. It was an easy life. Fancy free. I had a duffle bag for belongings for three years. I never saw it much as a career — more like drifting.”
Auto Switch will drift into Kokanee Crankworx festivities July 23 and 24 at 11 p.m. at Buffalo Bill’s then July 25 at 7 p.m. on the festival outdoor Monster Mainstage in Skier’s Plaza.
Rocker isn’t afraid to name drop Nickelback to catch people’s attention. He’s confident that once all ears are on the Vancouver newcomers, the trio of Rocker, Ramsey and Scotty Sexx — former drummer for Bif Naked — will win over fans on music merits alone.
Despite occupations that might seemingly have no connection to the music scene, making music has always steered Rocker in one direction or another.
After graduating from a broadcast television technical program in Alberta, Rocker moved west almost a decade ago to live what he calls the good life. Within a year, he was hired by CTV. The joy was not in working for B.C.’s new digital station, but instead at the prospects of meeting all the music acts that came through The Vicki Gabereau show.
He stayed in tune with his Nickelback buddies, demo-ing two songs, which he still includes in the Auto Switch sets.
As the name suggests, the threesome switches through everything from hard to soft rock and indie to metal. Rocker and Ramsey switch up as frontmen and even Sexx steps out from the drum kit to wank out a huge guitar solo in the final hour.
“We go from a Beatles style of fun melancholy to a Sabbath stoner rock and back into something that sounds like the Killers,” he said. “It comes from more of the writing process. We didn’t write as a band. We wrote individual songs and whatever those individual songs needed is where we took it… It goes back and forth. That is what I really like about our sound. We do switch it up a lot. You don’t have to leave with your ear’s bleeding, but at the same time we are a pretty big rock show.”
Listening to Don’t Look Down found on myspace.com/autoswitch, easy radio listening is cranked out with hooky solid vocals. But Rocker said don’t let the demos fool you; a live Auto Switch show carries a lot more grit.
“To have a live act to play those songs, it’s a lot tougher and rougher sound than the records,” he said.
After producing A New Rock Reality television show for the Novus channel, you would think that following the lives of the average struggling indie band in Vancouver would detour Rocker from giving up a steady profession for more duffel bag living — he wouldn’t have it any other way and Auto Switch sets out on a three month tour of B.C., Alberta and Manitoba this month to promote the upcoming release of the band’s demo album.
“My last day at CTV is Aug. 18,” Rocker said. “You have to make a go of it. We will ride on Nickelback’s coat tails to get our name out there. We may not get enough money to pay for the tour, but we are doing it at a fairly pro level. We’ve got one roadie, good live sound and a tour manager. We are taking the approach of making our record and pushing the band as an indie label would do. We are taking a pretty big chance, but it’s for rock and roll. Use the force Luke.”