HomeInterviewsReturn of the Crobot: The Beardos Strike Back

Return of the Crobot: The Beardos Strike Back

Crobot Band Photo 2017
Photo Courtesy of the band’s social media.

If there is anything that is right in this world, it’s witnessing the guys in Crobot on stage unleashing the funkiest grooves and nastiest riffs with such menacing grit and unyielding passion unlike anyone else in modern rock. Yes, Crobot has officially returned after embarking on a successful tour this past summer and are currently in the studio recording their third full-length album.

It has been quite the journey for this band over the past year. Much to the shock of fans worldwide, both bassist Jake Figueroa and drummer Paul Figueroa are no longer in the band. They have since formed a new group called Brodero. Unfortunately, the music industry could wear on even the most talented bands and it happens to the best of the best, including Crobot.

However, founding members Brandon Yeagley and Chris Bishop regrouped earlier this year and started to write demos that would define the next wave of Crobot’s career. Rather than let their momentum hit a sudden halt, they channeled their energy into songwriting and found new members that fit the musical mold and fundamentally understood the funk-ridden dynamics of Crobot’s sound. The band has since introduced Dan Ryan, an Austin based musician, on drums and James Lascu, someone who has filled in for the band in the past and also plays in the band Wilson, on bass.

Crobot Sevendust Tour

I had the chance to watch this new lineup perform at the Saint in Asbury Park and I was left speechless due to the unrelenting power and intensity that took place on-stage. This was my seventh Crobot show and believe me, the band sounded as tight, determined, reinvigorated, and heavy as ever before.

The beauty of Crobot’s magic – they will unabashedly jam away as if the apocalypse were bound to occur tomorrow. The new members bring their own flavor to the table: there is a level of familiarity and respect to the past and both Dan Ryan and James Lascu know how to compliment Yeagley’s massive range and Bishop’s groove-laden riffs while adding their own swing and blissful energy on-stage. Look up the band’s cover of “Cochise,” this four-piece unleashes onslaughts of the most hard-hitting chord progressions and the chemistry intuitively clicks both musically and personality wise as if they have performed together for years.

In an exclusive interview with The Pop Break, I sat down with frontman Brandon Yeagley this past summer to discuss the past, present, and future of Crobot, which includes topics such as their new album and members. Crobot is set to tour with Sevendust in December and will release their third-full length LP in 2018. We here at The Pop Break cannot wait to see what the future holds for this band. Keep your eyes glued to the screen as Yeagley is one of the greatest guys in rock n’ roll and shares incredible stories and insight throughout this conversation.

It feels really good to see Crobot playing live again. It’s been a busy summer for your band.

Yeah, it definitely feels good to be playing again!

You guys played the Chicago Open Air Festival and opened for Volbeat once again. How does it feel to be back on the road and how have the shows turned out?

Those shows were great. Chicago Open Air was one of those shows – we usually play pretty early during those festivals, which is cool because we get to hang out for the rest of the day and watch all of the bands that we want to check out. The lineup was just incredible. We got to see Meshuggah, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Megadeth. It’s so cool playing those festivals because there are so many good bands. We played the Starland Ballroom with Volbeat, which was awesome. Starland is always an amazing show and it was sold out. I don’t even think the tickets were on sale for an hour before it was sold out. The crowd was definitely into it and it was a packed night.

Starland holds a good 2,000 people. Volbeat is also coming off playing with Metallica too, which is great exposure for Crobot.

Yeah, I think there were 2,200 people or something like that. Volbeat fans are always pretty rabid, which was cool to get that kind of reception. We were very thankful for the opportunity to be aboard that show.

You technically opened for Kiss at Chicago Open Air. Did you get to check them out?

Man, that was crazy! I have never seen a Kiss show, which is crazy that I haven’t but it’s Kiss! It was everything you would expect from Kiss. It was great. I’m not a huge Kiss fan but I walked away a Kiss fan. I always respected their production and the effort they put into the show. I wanted to experience that. I left a Kiss fan. You understand things a little more when you see a band live and Kiss is definitely a live band.

I’m sure you can appreciate the comic book element and imagery.

Definitely. They are probably one of the first bands to transcend the boundaries of just being a band. It wasn’t just about the merchandise either: movies, comic books, and coffins. It’s this larger than life element that they bring to the table. It was a crazy haphazard experience. Once Kiss came on, backstage security was pretty intense. So they cleared out the backstage area and nobody was allowed in unless you had backstage passes. So of course we got kicked out (Laughs).

I went to the bathroom, walked out of the bathroom, and I was standing next to José Mangin. We actually watched Kiss walk on stage, like the techs handed their guitars over to them and they walked on stage. We watched the drummer come down from the riser and the pyros were going off from the side of the stage. This was before we were kicked off stage and I was surprised that we hadn’t been kicked off already (Laughs). I happened to walk into Kiss walking out. It was an incredible experience just to see that. I got to see the full frontal stage show as well but that made it a special moment. Seeing Gene and Paul and all of the guys walk backstage in their stilettos was just awesome.

You guys obviously went through some huge lineup changes with Paul and Jake Figueroa no longer in the band. You mentioned creative differences in your statement. What ultimately led to this decision?

I always thought when I read that, being a fan of the band and they would say, “creative differences,” I always thought it was a cop out. I really did. As vague of a term as it is, it definitely sums it up. Without going into the heavy details, it was creative differences on a lot of different aspects. We wish them the best. We hope that fans look at it as now they have two bands to cheer for. The road drove us apart. Like I said, we are certainly hopeful to see what they come up with next because I’m sure it will be good.

Crobot Bishop and Brandon
The Original Beards: Bishop (left), Brandon (right)

During the band’s downtime, I saw that you spent a few months in Austin, Texas where Bishop lives now. Did you guys happen to work on new material with Machine while you were down there? Did you guys start demoing material for the next record?

Yes, but Machine was actually in New Jersey at the time. He was nice enough to let us use the space for a little bit. We’re certainly continuing to work on new material. It’s just what we do and it’s something that gives us joy in life. We have a good batch of songs already. I would say that we are halfway there in getting the amount of songs that we need to go into the next album. We want to go in with fifty and we have a good twenty solid structures that we’re happy about.

That’s another exciting thing that will be coming up: working on more tunes. It’s always cool to get back into the jam room and hammer stuff out. That’s half of what we do. We spend a lot of time on the road, which doesn’t lend itself to being very convenient for writing or anything like that. Once the hustle and bustle dies down, we can really dive into some songs and it’s going to be cool. I’m trying to think, I can’t think of exactly when it was. I flew down to Austin for a month and Bishop and I were just hammering at it. I’m excited to get back in there and work on the second round.

I would say that Welcome To Fat City really embraced the bluesier essence and more classic metal side of your sound. In terms of demoing new material, which sounds or tones would you like to continue building on from the last record? What new sounds do you want to explore musically this time around? What excites you the most?

I think the last couple of albums have been extensions of, I don’t want to say improv sessions, but a lot of it was off the cuff and things that just came to us and we didn’t want to be too analytical about anything. I think for this next round, we are going to put things under the microscope a little bit more. We have been doing that thus far and we’ve come out with not only one, but two eight-minute tracks. I think there is going to be a lot more epicness on this next album. We are going to look more towards our recent influences if that makes any sense, more of the metal vibe and not just the classic metal vibe. Soundgarden, of course, is going to influence us and for all good reasons. We’re going to tap into that kind of area.

I grew up listening to bands, just as much as I have loved Dio, I also loved bands like Fear Factory and stuff like that. I think we can certainly take things, not to the Fear Factory level (Laughs), but riffs and metal riffs. Not so much of the classic rock vibe riffs: although there will be a lot of that. As much as we’re going to stretch the end of that spectrum in a metal sense, we are going to get even funkier. I love to write a straight up funk structured tune, especially for the next round. Some of the stuff that we already have is really funky and some of the funkiest stuff that we have ever written.

We always try to stretch the ends of the spectrum. We’re really putting more time into the songwriting process and making sure we have enough time to digest everything, regurgitate, and digest again. I think that’s going to be the mission statement for this next album: the best songs. Like I said, we’ve been dealing with the songwriting process by getting into the room and jamming but we’re going to take it a step further this time and really analyze things.

This is your third record too, which is exciting and a pivotal moment for a band’s career. How are you feeling about that?

I’m really excited about the next batch of material. I know it’s often a cliche for any band to say, “Their latest work is their best work.” I really think it’s a product of us being perfectionists and continuing down the journey of getting better with every album. I really think that about our next batch of songs. It’s our best work because we’re puttings things under such a new light and microscope. We’re really thinking about things. It’s definitely going to be the taking our time with the songs album. I’m interested to see what that kind of process will lead into.

For the last record, I saw you guys perform songs from Welcome To Fat City over a year before the album actually came out. It doesn’t sound like you might be doing that during this tour. Will you wait to showcase the new material until the album comes out?

We will always play stuff live first. We’re a live band and it’s our wheelhouse. It’s a good test for the songs and I think we’ve tweaked and written better songs because we’ve done that. I think that’s something we’re going to hold onto for that reason but not only that, we like to give fans a new experience every time they come see us and what better way than to give them new material that you can’t hear anywhere else besides the live show.

I would say that Welcome To Fat City still has life to it. You guys didn’t get to tour this record as aggressively as the last one. Did the few months off help reignite both yours and Bishop’s spirits?

Absolutely, there is always an itch.

(Bishop asked Brandon a question for a second)

Sorry man, we’re manning our own fort this time around.

Are you guys playing with Volbeat again after this show?

No, actually, the Volbeat show was an off-show for us and makeup show for them. Apparently, the support band they had in mind couldn’t do it so they gave us a call and we were like, “Of course!” We love playing with those guys. Every time we see Volbeat – we have toured so much with them and their crew is such a tight knit group so it’s like extended family. It has that reunion factor to it, which is always fun and makes for a good time.

Rob Caggiano too, he is someone who has spoken highly about your band for a long time.

Absolutely, he is a great guy and we hope to being working with him in some other ways in the future too.

Very cool. You brought up the metal element of your sound and being influenced by heavier music at the moment. You guys have played with Sevendust and Volbeat who I consider to be a metal band. Did playing with those bands inspire your writing?

Absolutely. Hearing those riffs and the way certain things sound dynamically in a live setting, live shows will forever influence what we do. It’s always cool. Sometimes to me, it’s even cooler the more downtuned a riff is because when you hear it live, it has so much balls to it and I think that it’s something we’re going to try and throw into the mix a bit.

You, Lajon, and Michael have such distinct voices. Have you absorbed or picked up anything by touring with them that has influenced your approach both live and in the studio?

For sure, they have such commanding presence on stage too, which is always fun to watch. Whenever you go to see Volbeat or Sevendust, you’re going to get a great show every single time. It’s cool to see how they switch things up, especially when you’re on tour with somebody. You really get a chance to get to dive into those elements like their stage production and stuff like that. It’s always great to see that kind of stuff. Those guys are solid too and solid vocalists. Just hearing what they have to say about life on the road, how to deal with things, and the trial and errors of your instrument being inside your throat (laughs).

Both are great examples because of their longevity.

Yeah, they have been through it all – whatever it may be, they have probably been through it. It’s always cool to talk to the veterans and see where their heads are at twenty/twenty-five years later. It’s cool to even know that it’s possible for a band to exist for that long. Unfortunately, we were on the last US Motörhead tour before Lemmy passed away but they were a band for forty-years, which is just incredible. Everything they have been through and accomplished, it’s cool to tap into those minds for sure.

Getting back to touring again and revisiting the material from Fat City, which songs have grown and stayed with you the most since the album came out?

I have continued to love the title-track because I think it’s the funkiest thing that we have ever done. The whole progression of that song from start to finish, I really feel like it’s the nutshell song for Crobot. It has everything we’re about all within that song. That is one that will stick with me for a long time.

I saw that you recruited James Lascu from Wilson and Dan Ryan, an Austin based drummer. How have you enjoyed playing with those guys so far?

It’s been awesome. It’s cool to hear some longtime fans say that the band sounds better than ever. That’s all we can ask for. It’s going to be exciting again to write some new stuff and throw some new material in there and to also revitalize the newness of the live sound as well.

So you and Bishop met Dan and came across each other in Austin?

Craigslist, actually. That’s where we picked up Dan from. It’s one of those stories that I feel is cool to tell because of the way it all happened. Bishop and I were like, “Ah, you know what? We’ll just throw up a Craigslist ad because what’s the worst that can happen? We can get killed, right?” (Laughs)

But it was two-hours after we had the post up, Dan hit us up and was like, “Hey, I’m not sure if this real or if it’s spam (Laughs).” It led to us – we were watching Roky Erickson and Dan came out and had a few beers with us. It was cool and we knew he passed the personality test. The next step was getting into the room and jamming, which was just awesome. I remember the first time that we jammed and I was like, “Wow, this dude is thunderous (Laughs).” It felt like we had been playing for years. It was cool the way things fell into place.

I know James also plays for Wilson. Is he just filling in for the interim or are you guys still searching for a new bass player?

So long as it doesn’t pull him away from any of Wilson’s opportunities or their obligations, he’s going to try and make both work. We’re welcoming him with open arms because he has played with us and filled in for us before and it just went so well. We have a great time with James. It’s a lot of fun.

You guys were a Pennsylvania based band. Now that Bishop lives in Austin and you have been out there multiple times to write and record. Dan is from Austin. You guys are sort of becoming an Austin based band. Austin has become this hodgepodge of so many different sounds and scenes. How has the city influenced the sound of the band?

Oh man, Austin is the live music capital of the world for a reason! There are so many great players, bands, and places to go see shows. It’s a really cool vibe that’s going on in Austin right now. It’s cool to experience that in any shape, way, or form. We’ve been down for South By Southwest, which is just insanity so it’s cool to see the city when it’s not South By Southwest and just to see the natural state of Austin. What more can you ask for? The best biscuits and Tex-Mex and margaritas – there’s so much in Austin. I love the vibes and always love every trip but it’s super cheap for me to live in Pennsylvania. For the foreseeable future, it’s only a plane ride away but I’m always thankful to be able to visit Austin. It’s a great city.

Does Austin remind you of Fat City? Are there any correlations between the two? (Laughs)

You know, I think every city has its moments where it looks like Fat City (Laughs). It just depends what side of the railroad you’re on (Laughs). Once you start getting towards the skyscraper section, there are some strange characters about.

The last time we saw each other, you were still in the early stages of writing your comic book – Legend of the Spaceborne Killer. Since then, your story has come out. Take me through the process of the early stages and what this has meant to you as an avid comic book reader.

Crobot Legend of the Spaceborn Kiiller Comic Book

It’s been a very interesting and educating experience to say the least. The idea started about two and a half-years ago, I was just hanging out and drinking at the bar that my fiancé works at. The artist I knew who was a comic artist, we were throwing things back and forth and I was like, “Listen, I have this idea that coincides with the lyrics of the band. I really think that it would be a cool thing to not only work on but would be a really cool thing for the fans.” I have always been a fan of bands that do a little more and are creative in all aspects. Coheed, of course. I actually haven’t read The Armory Wars because I didn’t want to steal anything from it.

I waited till I had a few issues in to sit down and take this all in. I’m such a fan of bands that are more than just bands. I thought it would be a cool thing to do and I am genuinely a comic book fan at heart. I’m not the library of information about the Marvel and DC world’s but I do love indie comics. It was interesting to see the process behind it. I never expected that when we talked about this idea at the bar that I would have it produced and in my hands. I never would have imagined what I went through and what the team went through, what we overcame in putting this out there by ourselves.

My hat is off to anybody out there who is trying to do this independently. It’s a lot of work, time, and money. I never expected it to be as much of a process as it was. It’s given me a whole new respect for the production side of things and getting things in line and how Marvel and DC have their shit together (Laughs). The structure is just incredible and like I said, I have a newfound respect for that whole side of things.

Will this be a mini-series or do you plan on writing this as an ongoing series?

Yeah, I want to keep it going as long as I can. I hope to get all of these issues out and eventually catch up to the Fat City story arc because I’m still on the Legend of the Spaceborne Killer and the Something Supernatural storyline. Those two albums sort of intertwined for that story arc. I’m hoping to put a volume out, a typical 6-7 issue volume before I move onto to the Fat City story arc. It just depends on how much information I want to put into such a small amount of issues.

I’m still working through that to where the plot all ties together and it’s going to be an ongoing thing. With the next album, there will be another story arc and the album’s aren’t concept albums chronologically from first song to last song but there is definitely a cohesive Crobot Universe in there somewhere (Laughs).

Do you think the experience of being an author and published writer has influenced or evolved your approach as a lyricist and songwriter?

Absolutely. It’s like, if I were to sing opera, it would benefit me in some way, shape, or form translating it to this stage. So I think it has definitely influenced me in ways that I will look at the storytelling process a little differently. Learning proper dramatic functions and things like that could certainly lend its hand in me being more educated when it comes to how I’m placing words and telling the story. I’m excited in that aspect to start writing new material because I feel that I’m going to have a different approach because of all of this comic book stuff. Even beyond writing, I have learned so much about promotion and the production side of things like I mentioned before. I think it’s trickling down to everything that I do. It’s something that I’m thankful to have done. If it weren’t for the fans helping me out and crowdsourcing the comic, it wouldn’t have been able to exist.

You truly went down the independent route with the crowdsourcing.

It’s crazy to have copies of the comic with me in the van to sell at the show. It’s such a fulfilling feeling to finally have it out there.

What was the feeling like when you had the first issue in your hands?

Man, you know, you can look at a comic online through a computer screen but it just doesn’t do it justice compared to when you’re holding it in your hands and you’re flipping through the pages and you have to wait until you flip towards the next page to know what happens next. It’s not just a click of the mouse of or click of an arrow. It’s physically in your hands and the colors look so different. It was one of the those moments, you only eat your first ham sandwich once (Laughs), this is the first time that I am ever going to look at the first issue of a comic book that I produced. It was one of those moments that took me back.

As a published author and songwriter, what’s your favorite aspect of both? What is your favorite correlation between the two platforms?

You know, I am really glad that I started out as a songwriter first because tackling the mountain of novels and short stories – I mean, I have always been a writer. I enjoyed book reports in school, which I know is crazy to say but I’ve always enjoyed writing in some shape or form. I’m glad that I started out as a songwriter because it got me thinking in ways of, “How do I tell a story in three-minutes?” Looking at it through that approach. How can I tell a story that might mean something different to you than it does to me? When you delve into things like the comic, you iron out a little more of the details and things are less open to interpretation. I still like to keep that mystique in the comic. I really don’t prefer one to the other.

I think they are both their own experience. Just as much as I love listening to Bishop’s riffs and writing words that fit into a certain spot and what phonetically sounds the best for each song, I love doing for the comic and scripting. I think writing lyrics has led me into having a better candace and better writers voice, which was strengthened by starting out and writing songs first.

I have seen footage of you guys playing “Cochise” recently. Tackling Audioslave in a live setting – in terms of Soundgarden, Audioslave, Temple of the Dog, and his solo material, what has Chris Cornell’s music meant to you personally and how did he influence you as a frontman? How have you approached performing “Cochise” live?

There has never been a voice like Chris Cornell and there will never be another voice like Chris Cornell. I look at Chris Cornell not only as a vocalist but as such a great songwriter. He was just a master at mending the two together. He certainly influenced me on how I approach singing and before I heard Myles Kennedy, it was Chris Cornell who really struck that chord with me where I was just like, “Wow, it can be done. A guy can sing that high and still be in the metal community and rock community.” It made me comfortable in my own skin just hearing that it can be done like that. Man, it’s humongous shoes to fill but it feels great just playing anything that he was involved in and being able to bring a tribute like that on the road with us. Soundgarden and Audioslave were such incredible live bands.

The one experience I had – I never had the chance to see either band or Chris Cornell in any way, shape, or form other than one time where we were playing at Webster Hall and Soundgarden was playing the next day. We saw the posters hanging up all over the walls and we were like, “Shit, Soundgarden is playing here tomorrow night but we have to be wherever in how many hours.” There was just no way that we would be able to see Soundgarden the next day.

So we sound checked and went about our regular business throughout the day. We got word that Soundgarden was upstairs and on stage soundchecking for the next gig (Webster Hall had multiple venues in the same building). We were like, “WHAT?” so we found a way to sneak towards the stage where they were rehearsing. We walked in and they had just started playing, “Fresh Tendrils,” which is one of my favorite Soundgarden songs. Man, just hearing Chris Cornell’s voice live. I have seen footage of Chris and I know he struggled at certain points of his career with his vocal endurance and performing but man, he was 100% on that night and it just sent chills throughout my body. I was like, “Alright, this is it. This is the magic right here.” I will never forget that first and only experience that I had of hearing and seeing them in a live setting. It struck such a hard nerve for sure.

Wow, I imagine there were only like ten people besides you guys for a rehearsal.

And those ten people were in their crew. It was them performing to no one. But man, “Fresh Tendrils.” That is such a tough song to sing as is anything with Chris Cornell on vocals but that was so impressive to me. He really was phenomenal.  

Crobot will open for Sevendust this weekend. For more information on the band, click here.

Anthony Toto
Anthony Totohttps://pathbrite.com/AnthonyMToto/profile
Anthony Toto is a senior writer and social media manager for The Pop Break. Works in the music industry and interviews prominent artists, bands, and musicians. Longtime guitarist, Rutgers Graduate, and wholeheartedly believes in the ethereal power of music.

Most Recent

Stay Connected