Stu Bost and Chris Alden are quintessentially of their time. Both grew up in the age of cell phones, the Internet and easy accessibility to multitudes of technology. The Brewer High School seniors, who together form the duo Autopirate, are a band that could only exist in 2009.
After all, two bands that also could only exist today inspired them: The Postal Service and PlayRadioPlay. The Postal Service’s 2003 album “Give Up” was written by songwriter Ben Gibbard of the band Death Cab for Cutie and electronic musician Jimmy Tamborello, while both were in different parts of the country. They sent tracks and lyrics to one another through the mail, eventually putting together the vastly popular indie pop classic. Autopirate’s Bost and Alden identified with that, big time.
“We were both pretty much obsessed with The Postal Service,” said Alden. “We had been messing around with synths and electronic beats and stuff, I’ve always listened to electronic music, and I also used to play in kind of a power-pop emo band with Stu, so it grew pretty naturally out of that.”
The other band, PlayRadioPlay, aka Texas musician Dan Hunter, is less well-known, but just as influential to Bost and Alden.
“We were pretty inspired by this band PlayRadioPlay, who was successful basically because of MySpace,” said Alden. “He did it all by himself, with no label or money or anything. If he could do it, so can we.”
About a year ago Alden and Bost came together to write the songs that make up Autopirate’s self-titled EP, available for download on iTunes. It’s sweet, intensely catchy, slightly hyperactive pop music — with supersized techno beats made by Alden, emo-licious melodies, and modulated vocal lines by Bost. Autopirate uses Auto-Tune for that, the voice modulation technology employed by hip-hop acts like T-Pain and Kanye West, as well as by pop starlets who can’t actually sing (cough cough, Britney Spears, cough cough).
“Yeah, we get the T-Pain, Kanye West thing all the time. Believe me, if we wanted to be T-Pain, we’d probably have a lot more money,” said Alden. “We just like the sound of [Auto-Tune]. It’s another instrument. That’s the thing about electronic music — anything can be an instrument.”
The two musicians understand one another very well — from the early years of working together in the band Hat Trick Avenue, to the present day, as power pop electro mavens.
“We work really well together,” said Bost. “I’ll come up with a chord progression, and then he’ll come up with a symphony around it. He’ll come up with a word or phrase, and I’ll write a whole page around it. He’s a great songwriting partner.”
Autopirate is gearing up for a still-in-the-works East Coast tour with the popular Maine band the Bay State this July, after both graduate from Brewer High School. Bost will attend College of William and Mary in Virginia, while Alden will attend the New England School of Communications. Will they continue to make music, despite being a couple thousand miles away from one another?
“Well, we can ship it back and forth, like the guys in The Postal Service did,” said Bost. “With the way technology is, there’s no stopping us. You can do pretty much anything.”
In 2009, the definition of a rock star is whatever you want it to be.
“To me, a rock star isn’t someone who makes millions and is super famous. I just want to be able to eke out a living making music and touring,” said Alden. “No one can get rich now, the way you used to. Unless you’re, like, T-Pain. And like I said — we’re not T-Pain.”
Autopirate will play at the Bangor Skate Park on Main Street 3-8 p.m. Friday at the Skate Against Drugs concert, also featuring Too Late The Hero, Beyond City Lights, A Good Night Sound Rush, The Bay State, Wolves Among Sleep and Sense in December. For information, visit www.myspace.com/autopirateme.