Five years ago I got an email from this little band out of Pennsylvania called Crobot asking me to give their debut album a listen. I set my expectations low and dove into the album and on the first go ‘round I was a fan. Over the years I have had the pleasure of watching Crobot grow into a powerful, touring entity that blows the minds of everyone that sees them live. They have built a dedicated following and continue to blow minds from town to town with their new signature Crobot sound.
On a recent tour stop here in Atlanta, I had the pleasure of catching up with the creative core of Crobot: lead vocalist Brandon Yeagley and guitarist Chris Bishop. We bonded over cold beers, talked about moving forward after an internal shake up, and the typical ridiculous silly shit we usually talk about. Enjoy this one y’all and go dig on some Crobot.
Brandon, Chris, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview.
Chris: No problem man. Here, have a PBR [laughs]
Brandon: Yeah, this is pretty much our currency.
It was 5 years ago this year that you emailed me and asked if I would be kind enough to give you guys a listen and the rest is history.
Chris: I remember we emailed you because we saw that you were reviewing bands that we loved and that’s why we just knew you would like us and that’s how this all came to be. Just guys with like-minded interests.
It’s really been a trip for me to watch Crobot grow in this amazing entity that it has. I mean, I thought you guys kicked ass when I first heard you but you guys are on a whole new level. Is it cool for you guys to look back and see how far you’ve come since then?
Brandon: Thanks, Don. Yeah, I think we’ve always been passionate in that we like being a hardworking band. I don’t think we would’ve stopped. From here, it’s just going to continue to get better because that’s who we are as people; we strive to be better musicians.
Chris: I think we’re just constantly trying to re-discover what makes all of this fun; what makes us happy doing this? That’s when it’s going to be authentic and good. When you get into a routine where you’re going through the motions that is when everyone can tell. Now we’ve rediscovered what makes us happy and what makes this fun and that’s very important.
What is it that keeps you going through all the tough times and bullshit?
Chris: It’s just what’s in us. We love music and we’re lucky enough to do this and we love it. I play music because I love it. I don’t do this for anyone else. It’s a selfish thing 100%.
Brandon: We’re just fans of everything that has to do with music. It’s just what keeps me looking forward and man, we’ve got the greatest job in the world. It’s just incredible that we are still out here doing it and that people giving a shit about us enough to come see us do it and interview us[laughs].
Have you guys been working on some new material and maybe even road testing some new tunes?
Chris: We have been sound checking a couple of new ones but I doubt we’ll play them tonight [laughs]. The stuff that we have written so far is definitely heavier, darker, but I think in the coming future we write the yin to the yang of that which I think we’re always pretty good at; trying to keep more light-hearted funky type shit in there as well. That’s the other half of the record that we have still yet to write.
I love that Crobot has grown so much from album to album yet has solidified its own distinct sound. Where does this growth come from?
Brandon: The more you do it, the better you get at it is pretty much the approach we take. It’s why we like to go into a record with 50 songs. We know that not every song we write is going to be a “hit” and we just like to take things to all ends of the spectrum. A lot of the new material is going to be a lot more of an analytical approach. I think that’s where things are going to mature. We’re just going to look at things in a more microscopic light.
Chris: I’m pretty proud of the fact that we’ve developed our own kind of sound. A lot of it is that Brandon’s vocals are very distinct and it gives the band more room to be creative. I think, moving forward, we’re definitely going to experiment with writing some different stuff and there’s not going to be anything stopping us from moving forward which is going to be exciting.
Brandon, how do you sing like that every fucking night?
Brandon: [laughs] Man, every night is different; every night is a different animal. The one constant thing you have to do is to keep yourself in a bubble to a certain extent. You can’t party too hard or eat the wrong types of food and if you do, you have to understand the consequences and repercussions of your actions [laughs].
Chris: I can definitely say, having been in many bands with singers all over the spectrum, some people can do it and some people can’t. Some people are just built with a strong voice and Brandon is built with a strong voice. He also takes care of it very well. That’s why his voice is so strong and even when he doesn’t feel good or things his voice is weak one night it still sounds strong. I see it every day. He’s very strict on himself.
Brandon: It was also a lot of trial and error. The first few years I sang I was not good [laughs]. It just took the process of finding what works for me and what doesn’t work. I’m just constantly working at it; trying to get better; trying to work on technique and trying to get plenty of sleep.
Is it half bird, half bot, or half alien?
Brandon: Yes [laughs]
Chris: It’s 150% of Crobot.
So what does the Crobot have in his hand? Did you ever figure it out?
Brandon: Oh it’s coming.
So we should get a towel?
Chris: [laughs] I’ve been changing the words lately to, “He’s got something in his ass!” [laughs]
What goes through your mind that second before you walk out on stage?
Brandon: “I’ve gotta poo.” [laughs] Almost every time I think, “I should’ve shit before going on stage.”
Now you’ve gotta hold it for 75 minutes.
Chris: [laughs] I’m usually 2nd guessing everything on my guitar rig at that point. I’m like, “What the fuck is going to go wrong now? I’m sure something is going to break” because I have the most gear issues ever.
Chris, how many times has Brandon been hit with your flinging guitar?
Chris: Not too many I don’t think [laughs].
Brandon: Once and it wasn’t because you were flinging it. You came up with your neck and I came down and hit it with my head.
As much as you do that move it’s amazing you haven’t smacked him.
Chris: I’ve hit every one of my other singers though [laughs].
Brandon: Oh man, tonight’s the night [laughs].
If you could play in any band for just one night who would it be?
Chris: Clutch for sure. Mainly because I know all the songs [laughs]. They’re also one of those bands where the riffs are so epic and memorable. I think there’s a lot to be said about riffs like that. They make you connect more to them and it’s just such a great feeling. I love them so much for that reason. The simplicity, the wittiness, everything.
Brandon: Man, I’d want to be the 3rd lead singer in Deep Purple in the David Coverdale/Glenn Hughes days. I’d just want to be the 3rd man there.
Holy shit that would rule. You could totally pull it off.
Brandon: But I’d still be like an octave below Glenn Hughes [laughs].
Chris, you have definitely adopted your own signature style and sound which I have to say is pretty tough to do in this day and age.
Chris: Thanks. Yeah, it’s hard to be an original guitar player anymore because everything has already been done. You just can’t overthink things and you have to go with your gut. Same for writing songs. If you think something’s awesome, 9 times out of 10 it probably is. If you think something sounds shitty, it’s probably shit. One thing that I’ve learned is that you never write for anyone else but yourself. If you don’t stand behind it and you don’t think it’s good or you’re writing it because you think other people will like it, that’s not the right reasons.
You’re already doing this for yourself, to begin with, so you might as well be creative for yourself.
Chris: Yeah. There’s a lot of pressure in that though. You see a lot of bands doing that shit and being successful. It’s like, “Do you want to do that?” No, I want to find that happy medium where I can stand behind something that will we will be successful doing.
“La Mano De Lucifer” is one of my favorite songs. Can you jam that one for me tonight?
Chris: [laughs] Hell yeah. You know, the original title of that song was “El Mono De Lucifer” and Alberto, one of the engineers on the first album, said, “You know you’re saying that wrong, right? You’re saying ‘the monkey of Lucifer.’” [laughs] So he had us change it to the proper title, “La Mano de Lucifer.”
You guys have been at this a while now. What’s the most starstruck you’ve been?
Brandon: Lemmy. Just to walk into a room with him the first night of our tour in LA… I’ll never forget it. It was this huge room and had this laser beam stare that was just intimidating as fuck [laughs]. There’s this God in the room. I think we all had similar introductions to him where we all ran away like little school girls after he said a word to us [laughs]. It was like a total Wayne’s World moment.
Chris: Lemmy for sure and Neil from Clutch. Clutch was our first big tour so we were extremely green and everything was exciting and fresh at that point.
Brandon: Neil even made a comment at the end of the tour to us saying, “You know, when you started this tour you were pretty green but now you’re more blue.” [laughs].
What is one hard rock/metal album that nobody should go without owning?
Brandon: I’m going to say Deliverance by Corrosion of Conformity.
Chris: Oh man. I’m going to have to say Cry of Love’s first album Brother. That’s one of my favorite albums of all time. I’m going to have to go with that one.
If Hollywood was to make a movie about you, who would play you?
Chris: Will Farrell but probably because we have the same body shape [laughs]. I’m not near as funny though.
Brandon: I’d say that as long as we’re going with people who are older than us I’d have to go with Jim Carrey. If he could grow the mutton chops that would be awesome.
Chris: I think Russell Brand would play you [laughs].
Finally, what’s up with you guys once this tour is over with?
Chris: We’re going to be writing. Clint (Lowery) from Sevendust is going to be coming down and we’re going to start writing some riffs and brainstorming and keeping an open mind to all things new. I’m super excited.
Brandon: I’m really looking forward to writing. The sessions so far have been that old cliché that it’s the best stuff we’ve ever done. It’s just all over the spectrum and the stuff we’ve gone through is just fuel for the writing process. There are some songs that are so far out I don’t even think they’re Crobot songs because they’re so far out [laughs]. At the same time, it could very well end being Crobot stuff. It’s exciting to see what happens.
Ok you two, I’m gonna jet and let you guys get into your groove to play tonight. It’s always awesome to talk to you guys and y’all make me feel like a proud papa!
Brandon: Thanks, Don.
Chris: [laughs] You’ve seen it all, Don. You’ve been there from the beginning and we love ya!