Interview – Crobot: “We Find It Easy to Come to Solid Ground…”


Crobot is pure, unadulterated rock’n’roll. If you like hints of classic rock but with a heavier flow but also maybe something with a little bit of a groove, you’re going to want to hop onto your computer and become very well-acquainted with this band from Pottsville, PA.

Due to release their debut album later this year via Wind-Up Records, Crobot is currently in the studio working with producer Machine (Clutch, Lamb of God, Cobra Starship, Gym Class Heroes) and are preparing to tour with the Sweden based band Truckfighters on select dates beginning March 15th.

Recently Emily from AltWire spoke with lead singer Brandon Yeagley to discuss the band’s numerous influences and plans for the year ahead. Read our exclusive interview below:

AltWire [Emily]: You can hear a lot of influences in your music but if you had to choose, which artists do you find most responsible for how you developed Crobot’s sound?

Brandon Yeagley / Crobot: Definitely Sabbath, for sure. Definitely a lot of the heavier stuff depending on Godfathers of Riff-rock. Zeppelin definitely, Rage Against the Machine, I mean, anything riff-rocky. You got the classics like AC/DC, you know. We’ve all pretty much grown from the same realm but we each venture out in our own little avenues here and there for the most part, I’d say the core is the classic rock stuff that has withstood the test of time. You know, there are some cool new bands out there now like Graveyard and Truckfighters and Clutch… Sword. Two of our favorite bands, which we had the pleasure of sharing the road with a few months ago. It was huge for us, a dream come true, really! We’re just into groovy, heavy, gloomy stuff. I’m a huge fan of James Brown and Prince, I like that. We don’t all like Prince, (laughs).

AW: So you’re working with producer Machine on your debut. It looks like he has a pretty impressive resume (King Crimson, Lamb of God, Gym Class Heroes). How did he become producer? Did he approach you or did you approach him?

Brandon Yeagley / Crobot: It’s actually quite a story. Last year we played SXSW, a big deal for us. We’re actually going to be a part of it this year, so super stoked for that! But last year we played a showcase and we went on, and it was one of those shows where there weren’t that many people there, but that was one of those shows that very well paid off for us. Machine was in the audience and believe it or not he wasn’t supposed to be there. His phone sent him to the venue we were playing at an hour early and he was supposed to see the band playing after us. The guys are packing up their gear and I got off stage and I was approached by this man who was like, “I really don’t know quite what I saw, but I’m really into it”. We talked and he said he would be interested in working with us, and from then on we hung out for a few days at SXSW. We really got to know him before we worked with him, and realized he understood us. We really understood Machine definitely gets what Crobot is. He was life-changing for us as a band. We are super excited to release the new material and we’re just finally getting the last bit of the mixes and wow…. we are very proud of what happened there in “Joi-sey”.

AW: That’s really awesome! Do you have an idea of when that’s coming out?

Brandon Yeagley / Crobot: Um… well, I can’t really release any of the info. You might find me dead tomorrow (laughs). Actually, we’re not too sure of what’s going to happen. We want to get stuff out there as soon as we can. At least, I’m thinking, we’re going to have something out there by May.

AW: There’s an interesting quote in your “about me” (“It’s become a counter-culture, so-to-speak. With so much emphasis on manufacturing, in terms of looks, sounds, and sights) From your live performances, you guys are high-energy-in-your-face-rock, but it’s great because you’re not relying on anything other than shear talent. Do you feel like music and performing now focuses too much on the theatrics of the sound/performance than meaning or the experience of connecting with an audience? With what happened at this year’s superbowl, I thought that quote tied in well to this question.

Brandon Yeagley / Crobot: I don’t know, I think that’s all in the experience of connecting with the audience in way. I think it’s easy to use that as crutch, so to speak, I guess. Bruno Mars was unbelievable, and it’s hard not to like him. Minus everything that he did, that was very, very.. I don’t know. Whether or not they did it live, that whole ordeal, since the tit-slip incident, Everything has to be so programmed in the Super Bowl aspect of it. I have such a deep respect for artists like Lady Gaga. That’s a show. Not so much the music, I’m not really into that,but the show of Lady Gaga is incredible. That to me sometimes makes it worth the ticket price, thinking that way. The spirit of the music? I think that can be lost. It’s tough for me to say that because we are what we are on stage. I think whatever you are; Do that! It’s such a long conversation we could have on it. You look at bands like Boston and those bands, they went out and they did it every night. They didn’t rely on doubling any kind of vocals or pitch correction of any kind, so the reliance on those types of tools, definitely against. When it starts to become a crutch it definitely starts going to the bad motive of things.

AW: You write music as a joint effort as opposed to just one or two people collaborating. Do you find this approach easier or harder? How do you solve any type of dispute or opposing ideas?

Brandon Yeagley / Crobot:  You know, really we find it easy to come to solid ground with our music and with our writing and our jamming. I know I can speak for myself, sometimes it’s easier to communicate musically with anybody. And us four getting into a room, just it’s easy for us, it’s what we do. Bishop and I, prior, Jake and Paul aren’t original members, but they are in our eyes, we kind of had a duo sort of-esque writing process where Bishop would come with fully written songs and we’d sit down and write down lyrics and melodies and we’d bounce ideas back and forth. And I can definitely tell you that Working with Jake and Paul and all of us in the room together is so much easier because you know that everybody’s putting their essence and soul into it. That’s what makes it so much, so much cooler. The more the merrier, I wish there was a better expression than that, but I really feel that four heads are better than one, for sure. And for us to get in the room and jam together it’s just so easy for us. We enjoy it, it’s what we want to do for the rest of our lives so we want to make sure we do a good job but what it boils down to is we just playing in a room or wherever.

AW: I think its always refreshing to hear of bands that don’t settle down in NYC or LA, or even now in Nashville. What made you guys decide your home base was going to be PA? You’re from PA, right?

Brandon Yeagley / Crobot:  Yup, I’m actually born and raised, I’m the only one born and raised in PA, not that I’m actually proud of it, I guess (laughs). You know what, the older I get the more I love it here. I think we’re in a really good location because NYC is only two hours away, Philly’s only two hours away, Baltimore is a little over two hours away. So everything’s obtainable for us with driving. You know, we didn’t really realize it but we started playing shows in New York and one of the bartenders there said something along the lines of, “Hey I can tell you guys were from out of the city because you guys are actually good”, and I think what he meant that we have time to practice, you know, it’s like we are in the middle of coal country, nowhere, and all we really have is our rock’n’roll. For quite awhile we didn’t have cable and we were all shacked up in the same house and we’d just jam, that’s all we had. It’s sort of like, as long as we have that, we’re ok where we’re at. We have nothing to do around us, that’s for sure, we just kind of get stoned get some beers and just play. It’s our release.

AW: You’ve played some pretty impressive gigs, what are you touring plans for 2014? I have a feeling this is going to be Crobot’s year!!

Brandon Yeagley / Crobot:  We surely hope so! If it were up to us, we would never leave the road, and we hope to achieve that soon. But I mean, really, we just want to play some shows and with some cool bands. Truckfighter’s tour coming up, we are so for. We’ve been following that band for the last three years and seeing them finally come to the U.S., I think this might be their second or third time here, we’re very excited to tour with them. Of course SXSW, Rock on the Range is going to be incredible. I hope we get the festival circuit, it seems to be a cool thing, a lot of cool lineups every festival. Just have really awesome bands. We’re hoping to get some sort of single out there, pushing our music video and what not so stay tuned for that stuff.

AW: Crobot seems to be really into outer space. If you could choose a planet to perform on(assuming it would be physically possible), which one would you choose and why?

Brandon Yeagley / Crobot:  Wow…. hmm…. I don’t know! I guess I would have to say Mars because it’s hot, you know (laughs) Or Pluto because it’s the coldest!

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