Crobot’s Brandon Yeagley, The TVD Interview

Crobot’s unique brand of stoner-tinged, no-nonsense hard rock is catching on like wildfire and their latest album, Something Supernatural is garnering rave reviews from all sides. 

A rigorous touring schedule is helping to spread the gospel of Pennsylvania’s Crobot, and we caught up with singer Brandon Yeagley while the band was cruising through the European countryside. Brandon offered up his perspective on vinyl, touring, and starting life in a rural Pennsylvania town.

Everywhere I turn on the web—whether it’s album or live reviews or YouTube comments—I read how much your sound harkens back to the grandfathers of hard rock like Zeppelin or the Who. What’s your take on these reactions?

Honestly, it’s definitely an honor to be in the same sentence as those bands, let alone compared to them, sound-wise. Those are the bands that we look up to and definitely look for inspiration from. We’re not reinventing the wheel by any means out here. That’s definitely a cool thing to hear.

Who is one artist that made you want to do this for a living?

I guess it’s been a lot of different artists, a hodgepodge if you will. We love Zeppelin and Sabbath. I grew up listening to Rainbow, and Dio was a huge inspiration on what I do. There are a lot of awesome bands out there right now doing some really cool things. Queens of the Stone Age has been one that’s been out there for the last ten years. Clutch, bands like that, have really taken that sound and made it into something their own as well. I really look up to those bands.

Speaking of Clutch, you have shared the stage with road veterans like Clutch and Anthrax just to name a couple. What have you taken away from your time on the road with those bands?

Well, I tell you what, most often than not out here, everybody is really down to earth, very cool, and there aren’t many egos when it comes to touring, especially with the successful bands. I think that other than a lot of other things that we’ve learned just from touring in general, I think that’s the constant now—that nobody’s out here being bigger than anybody else, you know? We’re all on the same merry-go-round, we’re all here to help each other out. I think it’s really cool to see the other musicians when they’re all on the same page, everybody fighting the same fight. It’s definitely cool to see throughout the tours.

You’re from Pottsville, PA.

Yep, you got it.

It’s not exactly a metropolis.

[laughs] Not at all!

Was it tough cutting your teeth in fairly rural small town?

You know, it was actually pretty cool for us, because it’s pretty centrally located, so we’re only a few hours away from Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia, just to name a few. There’s not really a scene, per se around the relative area of Pottsville. We had to venture out and I think that was something that actually helped us. We just sort of hit the road running and kept playing as many shows as we could, wherever we could, just grinding at it. It definitely added some character to what we do.

It got you quickly adjusted to life on the road.

Yeah, absolutely. It’s our home, we are but vagabonds. [laughs]

What kind of impact did working with (producer) Machine have on the recording of Something Supernatural?

I tell you what, that guy is crazy, and just a library of knowledge when it comes to the process of recording and producing. It was just a pleasure working with him in the studio, and having such an animated character around when you’re jamming some songs, it’s an added inspiration to pulling ideas out and really honing in on our sound.

The cool thing about Machine is that we really had a chance to hang out with him and get to know him before we even got into the studio to work with him, so we understood not only from his track record, working with bands like Clutch and Lamb of God, that he knew what we’d be going for once we hit the studio. It was a very comfortable situation once we got into the studio, we were on friendly terms. We spent a whole week with him at South by Southwest checking out bands, and really just chatting. It was a really easy process once we started to get going.

That’s great. It’s really gotten to the point where I will hear an album and think to myself, “This album sounds fantastic! Who produced it? Oh, it’s Machine.” I thought that with your album, with Earth Rocker, and more. The sound itself is just so good.

Oh yeah, yeah. We are very happy with the way it came out. I can’t wait to hear the new stuff from Clutch that he’s working on with them.

Oh yeah, I love Clutch. I’m very stoked for that one.

Likewise!

When Crobot first started out, did you make a conscious decision to really not have a theme or delve into a subgenre of rock or metal, but to just play straightforward hard rock—something you see less and less of nowadays?

Yeah, I think that’s pretty much the only thing that we’ve wanted to accomplish when we first started, is just not to really think about things, let it all be organic. Try to go against the grain, if you will.

What seems to be the saturated radio waves of just this cookie cutter music, and we just wanted to be ourselves, and let our essences be Crobot. We’re really hitting the nail on the head with that. We’re gonna just continue to expand to the end of the spectrum, and keep it funky and sludgy and dirty—and we’ll see where it takes us.

Something Supernatural had a beautiful blue/black splatter vinyl release.

Yeah!

That was pretty cool.

Yeah. Actually, we’re out on a European tour right now and we had quite a few people ask us about the blue splatter vinyl, which I believe is now sold out. It was a limited run we did of those. We’re vinyl junkies at heart as well.

Are you?

Yes, absolutely. We do this thing every now and then, when we have the time. We’ll visit a local record store and we do this “vinyl wars” where we all compete against each other to see who gets the one vinyl to put in the van for the ride home.

Who was the last winner and what record was it?

Um, you know what, I can’t remember off the top of my head. [asks other band members in the van] Do you guys remember who the winner of the last vinyl wars was? [laughs] Was it the thumb wrestling one? I’m not too sure, it’s a bit blurry right now, but we’re definitely vinyl junkies, and we’ll always continue, if it’s up to us, to release things like the limited edition splatter vinyl. We have a deluxe edition of Something Supernatural coming out in a few months. It’s going to also be a limited edition colored vinyl, so we’re definitely going to keep up with that side of things. We’re avid vinyl collectors as well.

Are you a big collector?

Most definitely.

What are a couple of gems from your collection?

I gotta say, I have like an orange and white splattered Funkadelic, the first record.

Great album.

That’s one of my gems. The thing is, it’s not really rare by any means, but I just love that album. I love the fact that I found it on orange splatter vinyl—that makes it a little funkier, you know?

I spoke recently with Vernon Reid from Living Colour and he said Cosmic Slop was one album that changed his life.

Oh, Cosmic Slop is such a great album. We’ve had the pleasure of jamming with those guys a little bit ago at Shiprocked, they played a few dates. It was definitely cool to watch those guys rip it up. They’re just phenomenal live. Crazy.

So you’re on tour in Europe now. Who are you touring with over there?

Actually, last night was the last night of our tour with Black Label Society and Black Tusk. We’re headed to Spain right now to do about five headlining dates. Then, we’ll make a trip back home and spend a week to recharge, but this European tour has been great. It’s our fist one, so we really didn’t know what to expect for the most part. The crowds, and Black Label Society and Black Tusk, those two bands were just unbelievable to be on tour with. It was a sad night last night to see it all end. We hope to see those dudes around again.

So you come home, take a break, then you’re out with Volbeat and Anthrax, right?

Yep! We’re actually gonna do a little headlining run before that, sort of Southeast to Southwest, making our rounds to start the tour with Volbeat and Anthrax in Denver. We’ll pretty much be out until the beginning of June. I think we have a few days off. We’re gonna do Download Festival in the UK, hopefully try to round out a European tour to follow that. It’s gonna be a busy year for us.

Sounds like it! Plans for a new album in 2016?

Absolutely! We hope to solidify some studio time at the end of the year. We’re always writing, and we’re always chomping at the bit to start recording and lay down some new tracks.

Excellent. Thanks a lot, and best of luck!

Take care man!

Crobot’s Something Supernatural is in stores now via Wind-up Records. On vinyl.

Crobot Official | Facebook | Twitter
PHOTO: TRAVIS SHINN

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