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There was a time when rock radio was dominated by great riffs. From Deep Purple’s “Smoke On the Water” and Derek And The Dominoes’ “Layla” to Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” and Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name Of” it was all about that unmistakable guitar sound that instantly identified a band or song.
The four members of Crobot – Brandon Yeagley (lead vocals), Chris Bishop (guitar), Jake Figueroa (bass) and Paul Figueroa (drums) – have united to bring that back.
Blending funk, blues, metal and good old-fashioned rock and roll into a howling vortex of Yeagley’s vocals, Bishop’s guitar and the Figueroa’s backbone, Crobot have crafted an album of endless good time rock hooks that sound as inspired today as they would have on AOR radio in 1974.
“We grew up with the same riff rock and it’s seemingly lacking in today’s music. We really seem to like the rock of old and felt that was missing,” Yeagley says.
“It seems like once we started jamming we didn’t try to find a certain sound or didn’t try to write a certain style, that’s just the stuff that came out cause that’s the shit that we like, the stuff that we listen to. It was much more of a subconscious effort. Crobot defined itself,” Jake adds.
That seamless chemistry between the quartet is evident throughout their eponymous four-song EP, which serves as an introduction to the band’s upcoming Something Supernatural album, due out this October. Before getting to the, well, mystical bond, first a little back story: Yeagley and Bishop were playing together in Crobot with two other members, while Jake and Paul were in other bands. “We played shows together and we realized we wanted Jake and Paul in the band for it to work and we got them,” Bishop says. “Just jamming together it was natural and clicked right off the bat. With Jake and Paul we were on the same train going the same direction, from the beginning.”
With the Figueroa brothers in the fold, Crobot found its voice. “Once Jake and Paul came into the band a little over a year ago everything started coming a lot easier just because they were already in a band that was similar to Crobot,” Bishop says. “We all played on shows together so it was nice to have an idea and then someone to expand off of that idea. So once that started happening we realized, ‘This is what Crobot is.’”
Crobot is a band that can rock at all tempos. Whether it’s the slow-building groove of “Skull Of Geronimo,” a methodical sludge-rocker that calls to mind Soundgarden in the chorus or the more up-tempo funkified “Nowhere To Hide,” a track that sounds like the Black Crowes driving a Camaro, Crobot display stellar musicianship and lyrical depth.
For example, on “Queen Of The Light,” the powerful closing track of Something Supernatural, Yeagley sings the story of a girl yearning for a new life. “She lives the darkest life/but all she wants to be is the queen of the light,” he sings against the plaintive wailing of the slow-moving melody. It’s one of the songs destined to strike a deep chord with fans in the same way the single “Nowhere To Hide” has become a good-time anthem.
“’Nowhere To Hide,’ was another one of the first songs we had written. We were jamming ideas and pulling ideas from other songs that we had jammed on and it came together,” Paul says. “It was organic.”
“Nowhere To Hide” is one of the songs Yeagley cites as getting his feet wiggling. And he promises that on Something Supernatural there will be plenty more grooves to get fans moving, as those who’ve experienced Crobot live have already seen.
“’Night Of The Sacrifice’ is one that’s coming out off the full length and that always gets me excited to play,” he says. “It’s usually the introduction to the funkier side of what we do in our set, it’s usually the first funky track that we play. So it’s really exciting to switch that mode from more riff based stuff towards to the classic metal sounding stuff with the heavier side of things and to flip flop and see people’s reactions when we totally hit the other end of the spectrum with the funky stuff.”
Musically, “Skull Of Geronimo” is one Yeagley sees as being undeniably representative of Crobot. “That’s a little on the heavier end of the spectrum, but it’s still got that funkiness to it,” he says. And lyrically, “Wizards” might be the Crobot statement song.
“It’s an epic tale of two wizards. One is on the side of wizardry and technology while the other is the side of natural spiritual wizardry and it’s a clash of funkiness and classic metal too in the same sense. So it’s a battle of epic proportions on all sides,” he says. “It’s just a song that fulfills all the ends of the spectrum of what Crobot is.”
Then there is the storytelling ability they show on a song like “La Mano De Lucifer,” a Biblical tale that starts off, “A failed rebellion/against the one creator/exiled to the fire.”
To show all sides of Crobot takes a lot. This is a band that displays their pot-smoking proudly, like on the humorous Twitter post, “Warning, Crobot’s music has been known to turn you to stoned.”
As another side of the band, Yeagley is a devout sci-fi buff. Asked what one film Crobot does the score for, he replies without hesitation, “2001: A Space Odyssey. That movie has its own special place amongst the sci-fi world.” And for contemporary sci-fi he picks Ender’s Game. “I’m such a huge fan of that series and to see that come to life on film was really cool. It’s got battles of epic proportions and everything you love about sci-fi, just nails it,” he says.
In a recent interview with a popular Chicago website the band was asked about the four-song CROBOT EP first, then waiting on the album. Their response: “We are gentlemen so we wanted to ease the tip in first.”
And asked if they were born in the wrong era musically Jake nailed it. “I thought about it but then I realized the weed is WAYYYY better now.”
A modern rock band with a sense of humor, as well as their own hot sauce, CROBOT has already been making their mark among peers with their wild live performances. But for Crobot, at the end of the day, it is all about the sound.
“All I care about is that people walk away after hearing the album thinking, ‘Man, Crobot is the funkiest, heaviest band I’ve ever heard,’” Bishop says.
Hooks: a musical idea or short riff, passage, or phrase that catches the ear of the listener. Some bands have ‘em, most don’t. Austin-based five-piece Scorpion Child have ‘em in spades. Whether it’s an extended blues jam or a short slice of bombastic heavy rock “The Child” lay a hook so tasty everyone bites. Scorpion Child come from lots of different places, not only logistically but musically. Their sound heralds back to early 70’s kraut and psych-rock with a modern twist and lists Pentagram, Hairy Chapter and Lucifer’s Friend as influences. They originally formed in 2006 and have spent the last few years perfecting both their songwriting and stage presence. Aryn Jonathan Black fronts the outfit with a siren-like voice reminiscent of a young Robert Plant. Guitarists Christopher Jay Cowart and Tom Frank layer high-energy twin-guitars over the band’s driving rhythm section fueled by Shaun Avants (bass) and Shawn Alvear (drums).
“Our influences are diversified as classic 80’s thrash metal to the old school southern blues of Blind Willie Johnson, Lemon Jefferson and Willie McTell,” says Black. “We came to Austin to form a band with a single vision and though we’ve played in different bands with a range of styles, after jamming together, we found our footing in what we do best.” Balancing full-time jobs at coffee shops and bars around town forced the group to be very disciplined. “Austin’s a great city to develop and hone your skills musically,” admits Black. “Every genre can be found here from blues and jazz to punk and hardcore.” In 2010, after years of slogging it out in the Austin scene, Scorpion Child gained peer recognition with critical praise from local and regional press while selling out high profile gigs at SXSW. The stage was set for the band’s recording debut.
After songwriting sessions in Nashville, the band spent last year recording their self-titled album with Grammy-nominated producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith known for his work with The Answer, Jet, And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Dax Riggs, and many others. The result is a hybrid of nine, hook-filled heavy-psych classics that breathe new life into a stale hard rock market. Their music erupts with big drums, thunderous guitar riffs and dangerous soul ridden bass lines. Black’s powerful rock vocals convey a sexiness and swagger not heard since the days of Free and Humble Pie. A surge of electricity bursts from the first notes of “Kings Highway” to the pummeling drive of “The Secret Spot” and the highly addictive open-chord “Liquor”. Built for the big stage is “Salvation Slave” which hearkens back to a time when guitar rock ruled the airwaves and made going to a concert the ultimate main event.
Building on dynamic tension comes the acid-infused “Antioch”, a progressive number with hypnotic beats and subtle shades of light that build into a blinding guitar duet. A galloping pulse distinguishes “In The Arms of Ecstasy” as a celebration of groove that is followed by the raw unchained riffage of “Paradigm.” The album concludes with the slow building “Red Blood (The River Flows)” which continues to attract comparisons to Led Zeppelin. “We do have this whole acoustic side that sounds very Zeppelin III with a lot of gospel,” says Black. “Zeppelin were very innovative and not afraid to go outside the usual confines of electric blues. I guess that’s where the comparison comes from.”
Recently signed to legendary metal label Nuclear Blast the band has pulled “Polygon of Eyes” as their lead single. A nod to Dio-era Rainbow, the song is four minutes of power-heavy rock plowing through an ancient storyline of swords and mystics and perfected by a massive chorus. Says Black, “I’ve always wanted to hear new musical ingredients within a classic heavy sound. We want to maintain spontaneity while putting special emphasis into integral hooks.”
As vinyl continues to gain momentum, Scorpion Child with Nuclear Blast have plans to release their debut in June 2013 as a glorious gatefold edition with different colored vinyl in each pressing. Building up to the debut release was a large-scale tour with Clutch and UK’s Orange Goblin the perfect event to introduce Scorpion Child to the masses. Several summer festivals are to follow including Rock The Range and Rocklahoma. The band join an elite few including The Sword, Graveyard, Wolfmother and Rival Sons who celebrate a warm Marshall and liquid feedback while still pushing boundaries.
The album "Scorpion Child" was released on 4 June (North America), 21 June (EU) and 24 June (UK) 2013.