banner ad
banner ad
banner ad


| 10 April 2021 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Crobot and Mascot Records have announced the global release of an EP titled Rat Child on June 18.  The complete track listing features “Mountain” (featuring Frank Bello), “Kiss It Goodbye” (featuring Howard Jones), “Everyone Dies,” (featuring Stix Zadina), and “Rat Child.” On the collected body of work released as the Rat Child EP, the band shares, “These Motherbrain leftovers (and new tunes alike), will satiate your tastebuds for some new Crobot riffage. We had the unique opportunity to collaborate with Frankie Bello (Anthrax), Howard Jones (Light the Torch), & Stix Zadina (Steel Panther), with whom we not only value friendship but idolize as well. Whether it’s gritty grooves, ballistic riffs, or that good ol’ Crobot sound you’re yearning for to getcha through, we’ve got just frequencies for ya!  Say hello to our lil’ friends…” The band’s most recent studio album Motherbrain was a global hit. Cumulative streams surpassed 20 million plays, 14 million of which were of the single “Low Life.” The accompanying music video for the track has been viewed over 1.5 million times, while the song was a Top 10 hit at Rock radio in America with a lengthy 29 week run on the Billboard charts. The follow-up “Gasoline” had a strong run on the U.S. charts as well.” We get front man Brandon to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photo

Toddstar: Brandon, thank you so much for taking time out. I appreciate it.

Brandon: No problem. Thanks for having me.

Toddstar:  Always love speaking to you. We’ve had the opportunity before, so it’s great to follow up and talk about everything going on in the world of Crobot right now.  You have an exciting EP titled The Rat Child dropping in a little over two months, on June 18th. Brandon, what can you tell us about the EP your fans might not grab the first or second time they listened to these tracks?

Brandon: Well, we put these songs together as a segue. With everything going on in the world and every band is in the same situation. We hit the pause button. So we figured it’d be a great time to just dig into the pile of material that we’re always adding to and just throw a couple of tracks out there for our fans to listen to, most of which are leftovers from the Motherbrain sessions. And for whatever reason, they didn’t end up making the cut for the record. But we felt it was necessary to, at some point, throw these songs out there because we had a unique opportunity to work with some of our friends and idols alike on some of these tracks. We think that they’re awesome songs and we’re excited to get them out there for people to listen to them. So we saw the opportunity and we’re excited to get them out there and finally see what people think about them.

Toddstar: I love listening through them. I’ve been able to check all the tracks out. Which tracks or track do you think just really strikes to the heart of what Crobot sounds like both past and present? Do you think these could potentially be singles or songs that just stick in the set list until the end comes?

Brandon: Man, honestly, I think all of them. You could pick any one of the four apart from “Everyone Dies” because that one is like a little bit of foreshadowing maybe of what’s to come in the realm of Crobot and which way we’re, I don’t want to say we’re going to full on go towards piano ballad Queen type songs. And we’ve never done that before. So we’re taking an end of the spectrum and throwing it even further, even wider, I should say with that track. But I mean, “Mountain,” it probably too hard for a single and that’s probably the only reason that maybe it couldn’t be a single. I mean, I still think that’s a bad-ass track. It’s your quintessential Crobot goodness. And I get to scream my head off. So that’s always something I love to do. And Frankie Bello was a part of the track too, which makes it even more unique and sentimental, I guess, to us. But we’re hopeful that people will gravitate towards it because of that too. I mean, “Rat Child” was a song that we teased once we knew we were making Motherbrain. We teased it because we thought for sure it was a shoe on the record. And just for whatever reason, I don’t think it fits the vibe of that record. Motherbrain was a really dark, really grungy sounding record. So when you throw an Aerosmith style old school rock and roll song in that mix, it was a little out of place. But I think that’s the only reason that one didn’t make the record. And “Kiss It Goodbye” with Howard Jones, it was just… That one probably is the most Crobot single of the four. It’s not venturing too far out of the realm of what we usually do. And I feel like it’s a very digestible song and Howard lent his melodic input and then just knocked it out of the park. And I think you could really hear Howard’s influence on that song. But I think that one probably is at the forefront of songs that I would pick as a Crobot, not just completely going to go left field with a bowling ball. I think “Everyone Dies” is probably my favorite and what I would consider more of like a single in terms of, like it could have more reach than we usually throw out there. It’s not just a radio rock tune. I think anybody who likes rock and roll of any kind could get into them.

Toddstar: I’d agree with that. And I think you nailed it with “Kiss It Goodbye.” To me that has an anthemic feel that would carry over in a live situation. I’m fortunate to have seen you guys at festivals [Chicago Open Air festival in 2017]. The last time I saw you guys, it was at a favorite venue of mine. I would like to go in this direction because touring right now is something that is on everybody’s mind yet. It’s so hard to pull the trigger. I’d love to see you guys on stage again in Flint, Michigan at The Machine Shop.

Brandon: Oh yeah.

Toddstar: I love the place and you guys just nail it when you’re there. What is it about a place like The Machine Shop, where the crowd’s right there with you, there’s not a 40-foot photo pit and all that good stuff? What is it about a venue like that, that really embraces Crobot and vice versa? What is it about it that you guys just really get on the vibe of?

Brandon: I think it’s a perfect storm of a lot of different things. Few and far between, are there venues that really capture the essence of what live rock and roll specifically is all about? And I think it’s like a time warp. I think it takes you back to the days of when live music was like alive and well and what everyone did with their time, whether it be weekends or weekdays. And anytime we’ve ever played there, it’s always been a good show. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is. And I think just the people, the people in that area are so rabid for good live music and they hold that near and dear to their hearts. And they project that onto the bands as well. I mean, everyone is always rowdy and ready to have a good time at The Machine Shop and that goes to the crew and everyone involved in the venue aspect of things too, which makes things on our side so much easier when you show up at a place. You know it’s going to be a great show, you know you’re going to be well taken care of, and you know that people are going to be awesome. I mean, every time we see that on the tenure of where we’re playing, it’s always like, “Yes, we’re looking forward to that date.” We always do and it never disappoints. So I think it’s just a perfect storm of all these awesome things and a place that just knows how to do it and knows how to treat their guests, knows how to treat their bands and the staff as well. I mean, where else can you go? And last call comes with an ass crack. [Ed. if you know, you know. If you don’t, get to The Machine Shop] For better or for worse, you can never forget the ass crack. And it’s just an amazing place. We have such great memories. So happy to hear that the place is surviving and well because, man, it would be such a travesty to rock and roll and live music as a whole for that place to ever stop. It’s just a gem.

Toddstar: I agree. You guys had the unique opportunity to be able to pull these songs out now. They may not, just like you said, fit the groove of the last record, but with the unique opportunity and everybody’s social distance and everybody’s spread out, how different was it for you guys to be able to pull these songs together from the recording to the production, the mixing and mastering? I mean, how much did it slow down or alter, how do you guys normally go at these types of songs?

Brandon: I mean, it was definitely different not being in the room together. That’s the one thing. Half the band lives in Texas, I’m in Pennsylvania. So it wasn’t in the cards to get together and then do the songs. But thankfully we have Alberto who is an engineer on something supernatural and has worked with Machine. And he still is to this day, exhibit on the Rat Child EP. He’s still a great engineer, a great mixer, a great master and engineer as well. And he’s a really good friend of ours. So we had somebody who we could trust to take the helm, albeit a different approach than usual. I think it’s had its downfalls and it’s certainly had its upside too, because we could take a different perspective on the songs and maybe take our time a little more. We weren’t rushed with the… Okay, well, I fly in at this day and I fly out at this day, so we got to get everything done. We took our time with the whole thing, but still didn’t overthink it too much because those songs have been “done” for a little while when you put them on the shelf and pick them back up. It’s never done. Nothing’s ever done. You’ll always listen or look at something and think of different ways that you could’ve done it. But I think it was interesting for sure. I think the hardest part is the content. The songs themselves weren’t so hard to get done with the current state of things, but the content, the video stuff, that’s been interesting, more so recording side of things.

Toddstar: Well, one thing I’ve noticed — people are so hungry for new music. So it’s great that you guys are getting this out there because with Motherbrain, you guys had some really good success. What’s it like for you to look back and compare when you were first starting off? All of a sudden, you’ve got songs that are hitting 14 million streams, you got Top 10 at rock radio, you’ve got weekly runs on the Billboard charts. What is it like for you as not only a performer but as an artist to know that your stuff is getting out there and really is getting out there? It’s not just you are releasing it and hoping somebody’s listening.

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photo

Brandon: It’s the real man. I mean, it didn’t feel real until our management gave us the plaque with the top 10 Billboard on it and then it was like, “Wow, this really happened.” Because when you’re out there and you’re doing it, it’s just everything is so fast and you’re in… Besides last year, you’re in a different city every night. And you don’t really focus on the accolades so much as you focus on your day to day. So when those things come down the pipeline, it’s just surreal. I mean, I think it’s a testament to our hard work, to the great crew that we have behind us that supports us, and to our fan base. I can’t listen to our songs 14 million times. We can only do it if people like it. We’re progressing as song writers. We’re constantly working on that side of things. Yes, I do believe that we will always be a live band through and through, but the song writing is just really coming together more than it ever has. And the more you do something, the better you get at it, hopefully, right? We have these opportunities to work with some fantastic people and we’ve never been too proud to say, we want to just do everything ourselves and we just want to keep everything in house. That’s not the way we work. We feel like we can learn something from everybody that we work with, whether it is like approaching Melanie’s different, or simplifying certain parts to make them more digestible, or taking the reeling things in or maybe stretching things out to where you’re a little uncomfortable. I think it’s all part of the melting pot of what we are and who we are as musicians and songwriters. And we’ve learned a lot from a great deal of people. And I think that’s what we can attribute most of our success and the fact that people still care about us in some way and want to see us perform. Again, I’d be sitting at home in my bedroom still if it weren’t for people who keep hitting the play button. So thanks to the fans and everyone who has liked it enough to put it up there.

Toddstar: Brandon, you and Chris started this thing in 2011 and you’ve been doing this for 10 years now. When did you guys feel like, we did it, we made it, we’ve hit that first echelon that we wanted to hit?

Brandon: I don’t know. I don’t know that we’re there yet. I think we constantly just, we want to do better. We’re our own worst critics and we always beat ourselves up more than anybody else will. But I think that’s what keeps our nose to the grind and we just continue to work hard because we know that we can get better at everything. And there’s not enough hours in the day to do that. So I think we’re just constantly working. And we don’t really pay attention. I mean, as much as I hate to say that we don’t really pay attention to that other than, do we enjoy what we’re doing? And do we think people are going to like it? I’ll be honest, we do this mostly for ourselves. We love seeing our family out on the road and all of our fans are family. I mean, we’ve stayed with people for free to do the record and we couldn’t have done the record without our fans and even outside of them, just listening to us and coming to shows. So I think we really have the people around us to thank. I will say in the early days, when we got the Clutch tour, that to us, we were like little schoolgirls. And if you could have been a fly on the wall in the room, when we found out that we got that tour, it was like, that was the moment in time when we really felt, “Wow, we’re going to go… We’re going out. Not only are we going out on tour with Clutch, who is one of our favorite bands, and one of the bands that influences us the most, but The Sword is on the bill too, and we’re opening this? How is this happening?” And the tours kept coming and coming. And then we’re out with Motorhead and Anthrax and Saxon and playing music festivals. And it’s just surreal each and every time. But to look back and think of the moment when we made it, there’s been so many little, tiny moments of like, “Wow, how did this happen?” And I think every tour is that way because we’re just a band from small town, Pennsylvania that just decided that “Hey, we’re going to do something different.” And people keep showing up. So I think we’re always shooting for the moon and we always want to just keep the trajectory going up and up. But I mean, I would have to say the big tours that we’ve gotten have really been those moments of like, wow.

Toddstar: You mentioned that you’ve done so many things, had bands help you out, and things like that along the way. What I’d like to know is with all the performers you toured with, performed with, again, you’ve got three great collaborators on the new EP, who do you feel, when you look back, helped give you guys the best advice or information? Also, who is still on your list to collaborate with?

Brandon: Oh, wow. Well, I’ll just go off the EP because like I said before, these are not only our idols, but we’ve just had the blessing of becoming friends with these amazing musicians and Frankie Bello has really been there since the beginning. I mean, he’s been coming to see us play in dirty gritty bars in New York city for, I mean, pretty much since the beginning. And it’s that pinch me moment when you see guys like that out in the crowd and you get to talk, shop with them, but then to just sit down and to write songs. Because we wrote a couple of songs with Frankie and “Mountain” was just the heavy hitter of the budge. But he was just an amazing guy to work with, just so down to earth. He will always pick up the phone whenever you call and lend advice. And Stix [Zadina] is the same way. I mean, those guys are all play on stage, but believe you, me, those guys work really, really, really hard on the backend of things and they do it mostly themselves. So Stix is just a library of knowledge as well in just the industry side of things and the songwriting. And his approach, just his work ethic is unreal. Like writing the songs with Stix was like two weeks of getting your elbows and hands as dirty as you possibly can and ripping everything apart and rebuilding it over, and over, and over, and over, and over again till you know that for sure there’s nothing else that can go there that’s going to be better than that. If it’s a word, if it’s a note, if it’s a rhythm, everything is tore down and rebuilt. And just the amazing work ethic we learned from Stix among the many other things has been a real treat and something that we will definitely carry forward with us in our musical journey. But for somebody that was on our list to collaborate with, man, there are so many. We’ve been trying to put this one out in the universe for a long time. We would love to work with Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age. I mean, we’ve been a huge fan of that band, and just the musical change for that band, and where they’ve come from start to finish and where they are now in their song writing journey. I think Josh would really lend some really cool tips that we could hang on to for a long time. So we’ve been trying to put it out in the universe working with Josh Homme for a long time. So I’ll throw that one in there.

Toddstar: Cool. Brandon, as with last time, it’s a pleasure to speak with you and as a fan of the band, it’s just fun. And I can’t wait until the rest of the world can really wrap their ears and their head and their heart around Rat Child EP when released June 18th. We hope sooner than later we can get you guys on a stage near all of us soon, especially up in Flint, Michigan.

Brandon: Absolutely. We are looking forward to it. That’s for sure.

Toddstar: Well, thanks again, Brandon. And we’ll talk to you when you guys just hit the road.

Brandon: Awesome, Todd. Thanks for having me again.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

Leave a Reply

Please verify you\'re a real person: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

banner ad
banner ad