Steve McQueen (The Automatic song)

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For other uses, see Steve McQueen.
"Steve McQueen"
Single by The Automatic
from the album This Is A Fix
B-side "Big Ideas", "In This World", "Young Entrepreneurs"
Released 18 August 2008
Format 7", CD, CD (maxi)
Recorded Sage and Sound Recording Studio, West Hollywood & Warwick Hall, Cardiff
Genre Alternative rock, Post-punk revival
Length 3:44
Label Polydor, B-Unique
Writer(s) Rob, Frost, Paul, Iwan, Pennie
The Automatic singles chronology
"Steve McQueen"
Radio promo artwork
7 Picture Disc

"Steve McQueen" is the first and ultimately only single from Welsh rock band The Automatic's second album This Is A Fix. It is their fifth single overall. The track began radio and video play as of 7 July 2008 and was released on 18 August 2008.[1]

The track premiered on the 2007 NME Indie Rock Tour, along with "Revolution" – which later would be titled "Secret Police", and was originally recorded over the final weeks of 2006 with original member of The Automatic – Alex Pennie, penned to be released in April 2007, the single was for unknown reasons scrapped until 2008 when it was re-recorded with Paul Mullen as a member of the band.[2]

Origins and recording[edit]

The track "Steve McQueen" was first mentioned in late 2006, after the release of the band's debut album Not Accepted Anywhere. "Steve McQueen", along with another track titled "Revolution" had been recorded over Christmas 2006 by Rob, Frost, Iwan and Pennie. The two tracks were to be released as a transition from Not Accepted Anywhere to their next studio album.[2] "Steve McQueen" and "Revolution" were performed throughout NME 2007 Indie Rock Tour, with bootlegs of the track appearing on YouTube,[3] however after this for an undisclosed reason the release was scrapped.[4]

Not Accepted Anywhere was taken overseas to the United States, were it was promoted on the Vans Warped Tour, with "Steve McQueen" and "Revolution" subsequently being removed from the set list, up until Alex Pennie left the band on 18 September 2007. After which Yourcodenameis:milo vocalist and guitarist Paul Mullen joined the band, revamping "Steve McQueen", stripping away the synthesizer and screaming vocal parts and replacing them with a second guitar and harmonizing vocals[5]

The track was re-recorded at Sage & Sound Recordings in Los Angeles, with producer Butch Walker assisted by Ryan Hewitt. Fellow musicians Frank Turner and Chris T-T also came to the session to provide extra percussion and vocals, along with vocals from Butch, Rob, Frost, Iwan and Paul.[6]


The lyrical content of the song has been noted to be a transitional song between albums Not Accepted Anywhere – which deals with the themes of growing up and the person experiences of the band, and This Is A Fix – which as a whole deals with a lot more larger stories. The title "Steve McQueen" is a reference to the 1963 film The Great Escape, starring actor Steve McQueen as a captured United States Air Force Officer; Captain Virgil Hilts, who tries to escape from a Stalag.[7]

A lot of the themes of the first album were about growing up in a small town – because it's all we'd ever done with our lives, and Steve McQueen is the last of that, it puts it all to bed, it's about having left (Cowbridge) and then returning and just not feeling a part of the place and having moved on

— Rob Hawkins talking to BBC Radio 1's Jo Whiley[8]


NME, Designer Magazine and a BBC radio interview with James Frost all sourced "Steve McQueen" for an April 2007 release, along with b-side "Revolution", both of which were recorded at Christmas 2006. This release was however dissolved for an unknown reason.[4][9][10]

Over a year passed from its original intended release in April 2007, when eventually a re-recording – with Paul Mullen replacing Alex Pennie premiered on Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show on 7 July 2008; moments later a clip of the track was added to the bands myspace and it was also announced that would be hosting the video premiere on 8 July. The track in its first week was added to Radio 1's C List and Greg James' record of the week.[11]

The release was celebrated by an instore signing in Cardiff HMV, followed by a party and secret later on that evening in Cardiff; due to the record label's (Polydor/B-unique) stupidity the single was released a day late, on 19 August 2008.[12]

Appearances in the media[edit]

The song has been acoustically performed for The Daily Telegraph,[13] NME,[14] BBC Music[15] and The Fly,[16] whilst also appearing live from the band on MTV Rocks Gonzo On Tour 2008,[17] Channel 4's T4 on the Beach 2008[18] and ITV's The Fashion Show.

The song was also used on the Channel 4 program 4music: V Festival 2008, Formula 1's official website for the highlight reel of the 2008 Italian Grand Prix and the soundtrack of Colin McRae: Dirt 2.

Music video[edit]

The music video was filmed on 15 June 2008 in the Mojave Desert, California, the same location used for the music videos The KillersDon't Shoot Me Santa and The All American RejectsIt Ends Tonight.[19][20] Several pieces of the plane parts seen in the music video are pieces used in the opening episodes of television series LOST.

The video itself is set around a scrap yard (the Mojave Airport & Spaceport), with wreckages of planes and engines around a desert, opening with singer Rob Hawkins pushing a motorbike through the desert (A reference to McQueen's film The Great Escape) the video continues to show the band playing in the scrapyard as well as walking around it, and as the video progresses the band are put through a sand storm. The video was directed by Paul Minor, who has previously directed videos for Queens of The Stone Age.[21]


Fraser McAlpine of BBC Radio 1 chartblog gave the single 3/5 saying; "a muscular reworking of the band's trademark sound, only without the really trademark noise (Alex Pennies screams), which leaves them sounding a bit like just another rock band, but a million per cent less irritating than they used to"[22] Alex Fletcher of Digital Spy wrote "With a beefed-up arsenal of guitars and a snarling, infectious chorus, 'Steve McQueen' is a brilliant slice of old fashioned rawk" giving it 4/5[23] Nicole Kenny of Manchester Evening News also gave the single 4/5 "In a nutshell Steve McQueen is a raucous rock song with a very addictive chorus that will get you singing along on the first hear of it"[24] Sean Smith and James Davies of The Blackout praised the band in Rock Sound, saying "I like it, they've grown up. Its catchy", with James saying "Its a bit more chunky than their earlier stuff, well done, good effort."[25]

Chart performance[edit]

"Steve McQueen" marked The Automatic's fourth appearance in the UK Top 40, peaking at #16 in the UK Singles Chart hence also making it their second UK Top 20 single. It dropped a place to #17 the following week, then to #29 in its third week and dropped out of the Top 40 altogether in its fourth week.

Chart Week Position
UK Singles Chart 24 August 2008 #16
UK Singles Chart 31 August 2008 #17
UK Singles Chart 7 September 2008 #29
UK Singles Chart 14 September 2008 #43

Track listing[edit]

Original – unreleased
No. Title Length
1. "Steve McQueen (Original version featuring Alex Pennie)"    
2. "Revolution (Original version featuring Alex Pennie)"    
No. Title Length
1. "Steve McQueen"    
2. "In This World"    
No. Title Length
1. "Steve McQueen"    
2. "Big Ideas"    
No. Title Length
1. "Steve McQueen"    
2. "Young Entrepreneurs"    
Digital Download
No. Title Length
1. "Steve McQueen (Acoustic)"    
2. "Steve McQueen (Live)"    


  • David Bailey – graphics, artwork
  • Shaun Bloodworth – photography


  1. ^ "Rocklouder catches up with The Automatic to talk all about the new album, on the last night of their first tour with new boy Paul Mullen". Rocklouder (Phillip May). 29 April 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2008. 
  2. ^ a b The Automatic interview, December 2006
  3. ^ The Automatic – New Song YouTube, 15 February 2007
  4. ^ a b Shockwaves NME Awards Indie Rock Tour is go NME, 30 January 2007
  5. ^ The Automatic: This Is A Fix Feature Part 1 The Automatic, This Is A Fix feature The Automatic: This Is A Fix Feature Part 2 YouTube, 25 August 2008
  6. ^ The Automatic – This Is A Fix: Webisode #5 YouTube, 28 August 2008
  7. ^ "The Automatic – This Is A Fix – Interview". Xtaster. 8 July 2008. Retrieved 8 July 2008. 
  8. ^ "Exciting times! – Live Lounge". 20 August 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2008. [dead link]
  9. ^ "The Automatic – 2007 – Pre-NME Tour Interview". 2007. Retrieved 23 June 2008. 
  10. ^ "The Automatic James Frost Audio Interview (5.16 single details)". BBC (Nottingham). February 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2008. 
  11. ^ "Greg James blog, The Automatic, Steve McQueen record of the week". BBC (Greg James). 15 July 2008. Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  12. ^ "Little Steve Mcqueen is let out to roam the world alone....". (Iwan). 18 August 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2008. [dead link]
  13. ^ "The Automatic – Steve McQueen acoustic session". The Daily Telegraph. 28 June 2008. Retrieved 30 June 2008. 
  14. ^ NME Video: The Automatic at Glastonbury 2008 NME, YouTube, 30 June 2008
  15. ^ Automatic – Steve McQueen (video) BBC, 10 December 2009
  16. ^ The Automatic – The Automatic 'Steve McQueen' FlyTV MUZU, The Fly, 1 April 2010
  17. ^ Steve McQueen (Live | Gonzo On Tour 2008) MTV, 2008
  18. ^ The Automatic – Steve McQueen – T4 On The Beach 2008 YouTube, 19 January 2010
  19. ^ "hello from paul & this is a fix webisode series launched!". Myspace blog (Paul Mullen). 29 April 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2008. 
  20. ^ "..and back again... & los angeles". Peter Hill. 29 April 2008. Retrieved 17 June 2008. 
  21. ^ "The Automatic – Steve McQueen – Music Video Stream – Premier". NME/ 8 July 2008. Retrieved 8 July 2008. 
  22. ^ "The Automatic – 'Steve McQueen'". BBC Radio 1 Chart Blog (Fraser McAlpine). 18 July 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2008. 
  23. ^ "The Automatic: 'Steve McQueen'". Digital Spy. 18 August 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2008. 
  24. ^ "The Automatic – Steve McQueen – Nicole Kenny". Manchester Evening News. 13 August 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2008. [dead link]
  25. ^ Newbound, Tim (1 August 2008). "The Automatic – Second Album! – Easy?". Rock Sound. Retrieved 19 August 2008. 
  26. ^ "Steve McQueen artwork sleeve". Steve McQueen single Polydor Records/B-Unique. Retrieved 18 August 2008. 

External links[edit]