Whatever Happened To…? The Automatic (“Monster”)


The Automatic were a four piece rock band originating from Cowbridge, South Wales. Formed in 1998, they are best known for the hit single “Monster”, which reached number four in the U.K. singles chart in 2006. Although having never officially split, the band have been on hiatus since 2010.

The original line up consisted of Robin Hawkins on vocals, bass and synths, James Frost on guitar, synths, backing vocals and occasional bass, Iwan Griffiths on drums and Alex Pennie on synths, percussion and vocals.

In 2005, the band signed a five album deal with Mark Lewis and Martin Toher’s B-Unique Records, and began recording with producers Stephen Harris, Richard Jackson and Ian Broudie for their debut album, titled “Not Accepted Anywhere”.

Their first single, “Recover”, failed to chart, but received positive acclaim from music publications. A follow up, “Raoul” would be the band’s first top 40 single, reaching number 32 in April 2006.

Their third single, “Monster”, released on June 5th 2006 would be a huge success, reaching number 4 in the singles chart.

The debut album, “Not Accepted Anywhere” would reach number 3 in the U.K. album charts, eventually reaching platinum status.

In September 2007, Pennie announced that he would be leaving the band and was replaced by Paul Mullen. The band recorded their second album “This Is A Fix” in Los Angeles and Cardiff with producers Butch Walker, Richard Jackson and Stephen Harris at the helm. With promotional single “Steve McQueen” reaching number 16 in the singles chart, the album was a relatively commercial disappointment, peaking at number 44.

Following continuous disenchantment with B-Unique, the band terminated their five album deal and started a self financed label, Armoured Records, distributed by EMI.

In 2010 the band released their third album, “Tear The Signs Down” which unfortunately failed to chart, along with the three singles “Interstate”, “Run And Hide” and the aptly titled “Cannot Be Saved”. No further recordings have appeared.

Robin Hawkins is out of the industry now, but still occasionally updates his facebook page https://www.facebook.com/robinhawkins1986

Alex Pennie lives in Oakland CA, and is married to Meghan O’Neil from American punk band Super Unison. Up until 2015, he was a member of Goodtime Boys, a Hardcore/emo band who released two albums on Bridge 9 records (2012’s “What’s Left To Let Me Go” and 2014’s “Rain”). https://www.facebook.com/agpennie

Paul Mullen teamed up with Gordon Moakes from Bloc Party to form Young Legionnaire. They have released two albums, most recently 2016’s “Zero Worship”.


James Frost briefly teamed up with Radio 1 DJ Jen Long in a band called Effort. They released one EP from 2011 which is available free on Bandcamp.


Iwan Griffiths left the music business to study Law at University. He recently married his long term partner Amanda Bathory. https://www.facebook.com/iwangriffifs

13 responses to “Whatever Happened To…? The Automatic (“Monster”)

  1. Argh! Monster! I thought I’d escaped this song! Never knew who was behind it, right enough, so my advice to JP may not be fair on the band (but Raoul didn’t convince me there’s anything to warrant further investigation… all angular and floaty with shouty vocals. Kinda like Modest Mouse meets At The Drive-In and, eh, Kaiser Chiefs).

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