Interview: Brandon Yeagley (Crobot)

Interviews / News / Special Features / April 13, 2015

Hard rock outfit Crobot released their debut full-length “Something Supernatural” last October. The Pennsylvania quartet has recently announced a deluxe reissue of that release, with the bonus tracks being offered on a 10″ picture disc this forthcoming May. Between European and U.S. legs of the band’s ongoing world tour, Modern Vinyl caught up with lead vocalist Brandon Yeagley to talk the band’s live shows, their upcoming appearance at the 2015 Download Festival and, of course, record collecting.

MVCrobot is currently signed to Wind-up Records, the former home of bands such as Seether and the current home of UK some-hit wonder The Darkness. These name-drops aren’t necessarily arbitrary; Crobot shares much in common with the latter band’s nostalgic sound and the former’s hard-edged rock mentality. But, enough of my music industry inner circle talk. What are some of your primary influences, if not acts like these?

Brandon Yeagley: Everything from Zeppelin to Sabbath, of course! I’m definitely influenced by Dio and Deep Purple. Anything from the 1970s is probably something we’re influenced by in some shape or form. Even bands like Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden — I’m a huge Chris Cornell fan — have sounds we welcome with open arms. No Creed pun intended there. [Speaking of Creed,] I’m a big fan of Alter Bridge (which features former Creed members) and what they do. Bands like Graveyard and Monster Truck, which put their spin on an old rock sound, are also things we listen to. I’m big into Prince, James Brown, Funkadelic, things on the groovier side. We’re all huge Tina Turner fans. There’s quite a bit that influences us. We’ll find something in anything and be captivated by it in some way, shape or form.

MVYou recently embarked on a European tour with Black Label Society. Crobot calls the decidedly not-European Pottsville, Pennsylvania home. That being said, what was the band’s experience like overseas?

BY: This tour brought a lot of firsts, that’s for sure. We had never been to Europe before, even though we had been to the U.K. for a short stint last September. We saw a lot of architecture and art; we visited this bone cathedral in the Czech Republic! Black Label [Society] brought near-sold out crowds every night. We were lucky to have fans show up early and check out our set. The whole experience was a blur looking back. I’m really glad I took pictures, because I wouldn’t remember half of it. It was just so much in such a little time. We hung out a lot with the BLS crew and they’re such great guys and such a pleasure to be on the road with. We’re thankful we got to leave the States and see some stuff on account of music. It’s a really beautiful thing.

MVYou’ve since headed on a string of U.S. dates which will extend into June. Volbeat and even Slipknot are tagging along for a few dates. What can new (and old) American audiences expect from the remaining dates on this tour?

BY: I would definitely recommend seeing us live before listening to our record. That’s the best experience that you could have with Crobot; our performances are our bread and butter. There are going to be some new tracks in the live set — we’re looking at a new release with some bonus tracks that didn’t make Something Supernatural.

MV: It would appear that Crobot doesn’t become a Slobot after this tour. Crobot’s earned a slot on the second day of the U.K.’s Download Festival. Seeing as you play the same day as Muse, A Day to Remember, Andrew W.K. and more landmark acts, is the anticipation killing you?

BY: We haven’t played Download before. I always remember as a kid that Download Festival was the festival of the year. It’s crazy and surreal to think that we’re part of the lineup. We’re so pumped for that gig, and hopefully we’ll make a run of short European dates and play a couple shows while we’re out there. We might take a few weeks off in August to write the new record; I have about four songs written already. We have a few festivals lined up in August, so it doesn’t look like we’re slowing down any time soon. It’s gonna be a great year for us. Our beer, Paranormale (11.2% alc/vol!), is going to be available in our immediate tri-state area very soon, but being an alcoholic beverage makes it hard to get out there.

MVBesides your music, CrobotTV engages the zany personality of the band via a YouTube channel. What’s the origin story of this extensive (and sometimes mildly sadistic) art project?

BY: Honestly, I’ve always a been huge fan of Monty Python and Tim & Eric. Basically, we wanted to do something in our free time that highlights our insanity — played out in video form. We just get these crazy ideas as an extension of our dark, twisted humor. It’s an ongoing process; there will definitely be more CrobotTV videos which continue to push our own boundaries. We don’t even know when the moment of inspiration sparks.

MVIf you were recommending a new CrobotTV segment for fresh eyes (and ears), which would you recommend?

BY: “Riffs & Cookies” is definitely up there in my favorite videos. “Juicifer” is also good. Most of our videos are pretty twisted and not for the faint of heart. Enter at your own risk.

MVUs at Modern Vinyl clearly dig records. Both your self-titled EP and Something Supernatural were released on limited-edition colored vinyl, and those aforementioned bonus tracks from the album sessions are set to be released on a 10″ picture disc next month. Were you involved in this wax transition? If so, what can you divulge about it?

BY: We are avid vinyl listeners and collectors; we all have pretty extensive collections between what we’ve inherited from loved ones and gems we’ve fallen into from record store trips. Vinyl is the avenue on which we want our music to be best presented. [Chris] Bishop [guitar/vocals] does all of our outer artwork and he does a great job. Vinyl is an important part of who we are as a band because it’s how we listen to music when we’re not in a moving van. As fans of vinyl, we want to make sure what we put out as Crobot is up to par with what we, as vinyl nuts, would spend our money on. Especially with the picture disc coming out, we definitely always want vinyl kept as a huge part of the release process. These bonus tracks won’t be available on CD, I’m pretty sure. It’s going to be a vinyl thing. It’s going to be a download thing, for those of us who don’t have the fortunate capability of playing vinyl. It’s cool to see the resurgence of vinyl, for whatever reason, be it the aesthetics or the physical ritual of it all. Sometimes the feeling of having that record in your hands and the story that goes with collecting is the coolest thing.

MVWhat is your collection like, then?

BY: It goes from Accept to Badlands to Bad Company to Eagles to Zeppelin to Funkadelic to George Thorogood. I just ordered the foil edition of Sleep’s Dopesmoker off eBay. I snagged a copy for $40, I couldn’t believe it. I just learned that Rick James had a band with Neil Young in the late ’60s called The Mynah Birds and they only released a single. I haven’t heard anything audio-wise to what they sound like, so I’m really excited to throw that on the table. Rick James and Neil Young?? [The Mynah Birds actually released more than one single, but they’ve only been released on a few “complete” Motown Records compilations. — JC] I also like to pick up records from any band we’re on the road with; I recently picked up this stoner metal record from a band called Ape Machine and their album called War to Head. There are these local guys called Black Cowgirl that put out a very catchy self-titled LP as well that’s worth checking out.

MVAre there any records you’ve been on the hunt for but can’t find?

BY: Frank Zappa’s Apostrophe is slipping out of my hands. Everyone I talk to tells me they see it everywhere, but I must get there after they see it and the person after them buys it. I’m hoping to complete my Rainbow collection. While I was out in Europe, I checked out this store in Hamburg, I finally completed my Prince collection. I paid 20 Euros for an import of Diamonds and Pearls.

Crobot’s self-titled EP, “Something Supernatural” LP, and the forthcoming “Full Moon Howl” 10″ picture disc are available for purchase on colored vinyl at the band’s official webstore.

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James Cassar
James Cassar is Modern Vinyl's Managing News Editor and a co-host of The Modern Vinyl Podcast. He is also an artist manager, co-owner of the record label Near Mint, and can be found in bed before 9 p.m. James lives in Philadelphia and no, he won't check out your band if you add him on Facebook.

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