‘Dirty groove’ band Crobot to perform at Levels

hlongley@centredaily.comJanuary 14, 2014 

Crobot is Brandon Yeagley, Chris Bishop, Jake Figueroa and Paul Figueroa.

TRAVIS SHINN — Photo provided

Crobot insists it’s the dirty-groove band from outer space. I believe it — if by “outer space” they mean their mothers’ basements, in the Pottsville region, in the ’70s. This band is the American version of Wolfmother, a Kings of Leon on speed; they are a little more hopped up than the usual sludgy stoner metal — perhaps more of a caffeine high than an acid freakout.

Weekender caught up with Crobot’s modern-day gypsy lead singer, Brandon Yeagley, for a quick phoner.

Weekender: Musically, your likes are pretty obvious (Led Zep, Grand Funk Railroad, Black Sabbath). What are a few bands or artists you are into that people wouldn’t expect? Any Air Supply or Earl Sweatshirt?

Brandon Yeagley: Personally, I’m a huge Prince fan and a James Brown fan. ... The sexuality of the music and the idea of a frontman, the whole persona of soul, if you will. I have to give them credit, too, for their dance moves.

W: Do you do the skate (a dance move made famous in the 1960s and by Davy Jones)?

B.Y.: I do a hybrid of stuff. I stole James Brown’s “funky monkey,” and I do a move called the “James Brown.” I make my own spins on the moves.

W: Generic question, but what are you listening to while the band is on the road?

B.Y.: We’re all into the into the same stuff and different stuff all at the same time. I used to think I grew up in the wrong era. ... We have so much readily available to us that I tend to go backwards with my music taste. I can get lost in Spotify with similar artists. I’ve grown to appreciate that the more I dig up. ... Upon listening to some bands, like Leaf Hound, you can hear the roots of stoner rock just beginning to form and it’s cool to be able to have that now. It all influences it all in some way. ... You can take whatever you want out of it; it’s your own little playground.

W: I see you are from Pottsville. Where does Crobot call home now?

B.Y: I’m from Tremont, near Pine Grove, closer to Pottsville.

W: The drummer and bassist (Paul and Jake Figueroa) are from New Jersey and guitarist Chris Bishop is from Tennessee. What did you have to do to get the rest of the band to move to central Pennsylvania?

B.Y: The band house is in Pottsville.

W: So you performed at Austin, Texas’ SXSW indie music festival last year? How did that help our the band’s career?

B.Y.: Each night was better than the first. We were kinda spoiled; we kinda partied the whole week. (Rapper) T.I. tried to steal Jake’s pizza. ... We met (famed producer) Machine by accident at SXSW. We got done playing and were approached by Machine, who was completely blown away. It was a “Wayne’s World” moment where we were like, “We’re not worthy,” because a few months before that (meeting), we gathered a list of dream producers and he was on it.

W: You just signed with Wine Up records and your new album, “The Legend of the Spaceborne Killer,” is set for release later this year. Do you already have a full album’s worth of material, or will it feature the songs from Crobot’s self-titled, self-released debut of the same name?

B.Y.: We went in with Machine and re-recorded some of the old tracks and some new tracks. There will be Spotify bonus tracks, or something, and a few older songs will make the record. The live set we’ve been playing has been mostly new stuff.

W: I see there are a number of successful and highly produced performers on the new label (Creed, Evanescence, Filter, OAR, Seether). How, if at all, will the two-album, Wind Up contract alter Crobot’s sound?

B.Y.: It’s actually been really great with Wind Up. We were an exception to the family. They were really great and helping us out and not holding our hands, but taking a step back and giving us the tool and opportunities to try to deliver. This has been such a great experience for us; we really do feel like we’re part of the family.

W: How is it to tour with today’s bastions of hard rock? Sounds like a lot of leather and beer and hair.

B.Y.: We’re on tour until Jan. 19 with Clutch and The Sword, then we’ll join the SnoCore tour (with headliners Pretty Reckless, Heaven’s Basement and The Letter Black).

W: What happens on a tour like that? Lots of drinking, cursing, smoking?

B.Y.: Sometimes we’re sleeping; it’s pretty crazy sometimes. We try to hang around as long as we can at the shows and slam as many beers as we can in the allotted time, but we’re pretty much jumping from one place to the next. (Touring) is where our hearts are at rest — waking up in a different city every night. It’s a lot of farts, smelly feet, eat breakfast, more farts ...

W: So with the Clutch tour stop and then the SnoCore stop, you’ll be here twice in two months. Are you familiar with State College?

B.Y.: My first time there was at “The Basement,” and we showed up and it really was someone’s basement. It was a wild time. There were homemade cookies, kegs in the basement and some of the coolest bands. Every time I’ve played State College, it’s been a blast. As soon as you pull in, it’s cool.

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