The spirit of the riff continues as a new breed of rock bands have risen and carried the torch of what artists of the 1960s and 1970s had created. Crobot is part of the new breed of rock revivalists who are injecting the scene with a much needed boost of excitement, and their first full length release Something Supernatural is catching fans by surprise.
They recently supported Chevelle on their East Coast leg this past winter. Being a fellow rock band on the scene, Crobot connected with their audience immediately and won over new fans.
“It was a good response,” said guitarist Chris Bishop, about their tour supporting Chevelle. “We sell a lot of merch, which is nice. Their crew is super cool, and so are the guys in the band, which is nice. It’s always cool.”
“They just went out with our buddies in Kyng. It was probably a couple months ago they went out with them. I think they enjoy the stoner-rock stuff we do.”
Crobot began in 2011 in Pottsville, PA when singer Brandon Yeagley and guitarist and Tennessee native Chris Bishop found a common bond between them with their mutual love of bluesy riff rock. They later added bassist Jake Figueroa and his brother, drummer Paul, to the fold.
“We’ve been around since 2011. That’s when Crobot first started. That was me and the singer started the band. We played around with a couple different blues rock bands in the New Jersey/PA area, and that’s where we met Jake [Figueroa, bass] and Paul [Figueroa, drums]. They’re brothers and ended up joining the band before we got signed by Wind Up. The rest is history.”
They recorded an EP in 2012 called The Legend Of The Spaceborne Killer, which helped attract fans everywhere they played.
“What had happened was…I’d say in 2012 we independently released our CD. At the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, that’s when Wind Up started talking to us. It took almost all of 2013 to get signed. It’s the lawyer stuff and everything. It was in September of that year when we signed our deal. Then we went in and recorded the album in November. Then it brings us to this year  when we released the album and toured extensively on it. Even before we were signed to Wind Up, they were behind us on a lot of our touring, which was good. It was like we were part of the family even before we were signed.”
They recorded Something Supernatural with super producer Machine (Lamb of God, Clutch) in Austin, TX at The Machine Shop. Working together, they were able to create a strong sounding record that exceeded their expectations.
“This was the debut with him. He found us at South By Southwest. It was all by chance we got together. He was a huge fan of the band and saw us a bunch before we started pre-production. We recorded for two months. It was really awesome. He knew exactly what we were going for and how to get it.”
In a nutshell, Crobot has an older blues rock sound with a modern vibe that fans of big riff rock can immediately get into.
“We all started off with the same influences. We learned our instruments through our parent’s music. Especially me – I learned to play guitar by listening to what my mom was listening to. Especially in the beginning almost all musicians learn Zeppelin songs and Sabbath songs and Hendrix. A lot of people stray away from that but we always kept that our number one priority for us. We always loved that kind of music. We always loved groove music, like Clutch is my favorite band. It’s a huge influence on us and it’s the groove and the simplicity of the riff is very important for Crobot.”
One aspect that is not often heard recently is the harmonica, which Yeager plays on a couple of songs on the album. While mainly strictly blues oriented artists were better known for utilizing this within their songs, Crobot was encouraged to try something different within their songs.
“We were always a bluesy based band. The harmonica was something that Brandon [Yeagley] always did. There were a couple songs that we played it on. Machine was all about it. He really encouraged him to play harmonica and it was really awesome. I’m really happy with the two tracks. Actually one of the tracks didn’t get released on the album, and will be out at some point.”
While Bishop sites artists such as Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix as influences, he does rave about some newer bands who have shaped his playing style as well.
“Definitely Clutch for me, being the guitar player and writing riffs. I always love the funk of Tim Sult’s playing and how he uses effects to make a little trippy and being more of a groove guitar player than a shred guitar player. I’ve always liked player like that.”
“Even when you look at bluesier guitar players like Hendrix, he’s a feel player. His feelings are in his bends and he’s very melodic. His rhythm playing is not just playing super fast and ripping through everything. Most of my favorite players, like Bob [Balch] from Fu Manchu and Tim Sult from Clutch – they’re all groove players. That’s what I want to be.”
Bishop explained the odd sounding band name. Much like their sound, their name is somewhat of a play on words about how they heard their own sound as becoming the band moniker.
“We had a few different names we were tossing around. We didn’t like any of them. I asked my buddy Dave Ashton about band names and he was like ‘so what do you sound like?’ I said we were playing some Crowbar-y type riffs with robotic effects. Then he was like ‘Oh…Crobot.’ That was pretty awesome, so we kept it.”
Ironically they shared a stage with Crowbar, which he was a huge fan of. “We just played with them [Crowbar] a few days ago. It was awesome. I met Kirk [Windstein] and the rest of the band were really, really cool to us. They really enjoyed the band. Watching them play was like listening to the devil’s soundtrack. It was so awesome!”
While Crobot has a dirty bluesy rock sound that the music world is growing familiar with, there is one place they have yet to spend much time in that their brand of music was popularized in.
“Not really. We’ve travelled through it a couple of times. We’ve only been to the West Coast twice. It was awesome driving through the desert. We would listen to Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age going through it. It seemed fitting.”
Interview By Rei Nishimoto