HIT CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: We had the honour to talk with a very talented person: Brandon Yeagley. He is best known a founding member and singer of Crobot, one of best young hard rock bands. Crobot are releasing their new studio album, “Feel This” (Mascot Records) on 3rd June 2022. Read below the very interesting things he told us:
How much did the coronavirus affect the making of “Feel This” album?
Well, because we were cooped up and locked in our homes that really led us to be able to dissect these songs that we wrote for the newest album a little more so than usual, because we are a band who tours a lot when we can. So, the fact that we couldn’t tour and really couldn’t do much of anything else but write songs and send them back and forth to each other, I think that really helped out the writing process and we were really able to focus and turn these songs inside out and put them back together again. Sometimes, that happens more in the studio than it does before we get there. I think the songs really benefited from us being able to spend more time on.
What is the meaning of your first single “Better Times”?
Speaking of Covid, it had a lot to do with reigniting that fire inside to go see a show, to go out and hear some good live music again and that’s really what is all about: It’s looking forward to reconvening with your band buddies and going out to see a rock ‘n’ roll show.
Are you satisfied with the response you got so far for “Better Times” single?
Yeah, there is always a level of anxiety that comes along with releasing new songs. You never quite know what people are gonna think, but I think it’s the perfect song to start the new record cycle with, because it’s got a lot of the old sound that we hold near and dear, the old school rock ‘n’ roll sound that we love, to put out there. I also think the subject matter again with all of us cooped up for the last couple of years, with everything going on in the world, it can connect with a lot of people and a lot of people could relate to that.
I really like “Without Wings”, particularly the melodic intro. Would you like to tell us a few words about this song?
“Without Wings” is one of those quintessential Crobot songs. When we play live we tend to notice which songs really go over well with the audience and one of those songs is “La Mano del Lucifer” (ed: from “Something Supernatural” -2014), one of our staple live tracks. So, we really wanted to re-imagine that sort of epic, I guess, proto-metal, old school metal kind of structure that’s very like Dio Sabbath and a lot of bands that we love and grew up listening to and we can only hope to come close to how cool some of these Dio Sabbath songs are. So, that was our attempt at making a very melodic old school metal song and we are really excited to play that one live because again I think those are the songs that lead the audience through a journey musically and lyrically. It’s very dramatic song as well, so, I think the push and the pull and the contrast sonically will really lead to people enjoying the ride.
I guess “Livin’ on the Streets” will become a live anthem. What’s the story behind this amazing song?
That’s really us trying to be no-holds-barred in an old school sound. Of course, David Lee Roth (ed: Van Halen –vocals) is just a huge inspiration, not only what he does vocally but what he calls “monkey hour” and the way he performs. You can kind of hear his performance through the songs, like what he is doing phonetically and I think that song was just us not really even thinking too much about writing or anything. It was just one of those things: “Let’s see what happens with this”. It’s such an old school sound and we really wanted to incorporate some of the coolest moments that we love on rock ‘n’ roll records like “Runnin’ With the Devil” (ed: from Van Halen’s debut -1978), going back to David Lee Roth and his ad-libbing and whistling. He was just doing all this crazy things that we know Diamond Dave used to do. I think musically we really wanted to have like an AC/DC sort of song, which we have never really tried to do before with the gang vocals in the chorus and things like that. It was a new attempt for us to try to do an old school sound. That’s one of my favourite songs for sure, too.
How important was Jay Ruston’s (Stone Sour, Anthrax producer) contribution to “Feel This” album?
Jay absolutely stepped us up, for sure. Not only in work ethic, not only in just production value that he added to the songs, but I really do believe that we went in there and we came out the best band that we could be. We always wanted to make a record the way that Jay approached his records. In that he takes a song, song by song by song, and makes sure that everything is finished from start to finish and front to back, instead of this new method of doing drums first for every song, and then doing bass for every song, not to say that it totally takes out the creative energy, but sometimes you can get yourself in a rut and you can overthink things a little too much or underthink things for that matter just because you are trying to get through as much as you can, you are kind of watching the clock tick by. The way he approached recording was just a breath of fresh air and again it was something that we wanted to do since the inception of the band: Just to get in there and be a live band and just record live and put all of our creative energy in one song at a time.
How challenging was it for you to write the successor to a great album like “Motherbrain” (2019)?
We knew coming into the writing for “Feel This” that we definitely had to step our game up because it’s the old adage that our last record was our best and our new record it’s even better, but I really feel that way. I feel this is the best material that we have ever done and I think that was because of the fire that was lit under us, because of the success of “Motherbrain” or at least in our eyes of how we have progressed as songwriters and gotten better at the Crobot sound, incorporating other elements, making things more digestible and appealing to the masses and I think we really wanted to take a page out of “Motherbrain”’s book; not make the same album twice, but in the same breath we really wanted to outdo ourselves. I think we hit the mark on that and it’s exciting to finally be talking about it, be talking about the songs and get them out for people to hear.
Were you surprised with the success of “Low Life” from “Motherbrain” (2019) album?
Again, there is always this level of unknown when you put something out there, especially creatively for old fans and new fans alike, but we really did gain a lot of new fans from “Low Life”. I don’t think is just because of the song; I think the video helped that a lot, too. Just seeing that song live and the way the audience gravitates towards that song, it was really eye-opening for us. We really took a step back because of that and we learned from that song’s success and obviously we hope that something off the next record will be more successful than that. But “Low Life” definitely set the bar.
Did you enjoy collaborating with Frankie Bello (Anthrax -bass), Howard Jones (Light the Torch, ex-Killswitch Engage -vocals) and Stix Zadinia (Steel Panther -drums) on “Rat Child” EP (2021)?
Absolutely! You know, those guys honestly are just friends before we were creative comrades, although it was during Covid, so we weren’t actually in a room together. Aside from Howard Jones, we actually wrote that song (ed: “Kiss It Goodbye”) years ago and we were in the room with him when we wrote that, but just to be in a creative space with those guys and have them be fans of the band is just amazing. I pinch myself every time just because these are the guys that we grew up loving and idolizing and it’s just so cool for us to call them friends and now to have some credits together, it’s really cool and it was just an enjoyable experience. We are all friends with each of those guys and when the Covid law happened and we didn’t really have many ideas of what to do to try to get us through, we said: “Ah, we forgot these songs that are sitting there that we have done with these amazing artists and our friends. What better time to just bring them out there and fill the void for a little while?” I’m really glad that we were able to do that, because I ‘m not sure that those songs would have been released otherwise, because they happened during the “Motherbrain” writing process mostly and they probably would have been swept to the wayside and it would have been really a travesty because they are such great songs and we had such a great time working on them and recording them. So, it’s cool to be able have them put them out there now on the “Rat Child” EP.
Is there still room for experimentation in stoner rock?
Absolutely! Absolutely! I might regret saying this but I look at our songs like they are bubblegum stoner rock. We really like to incorporate other things into the stoner rock sound, not just stoner rock, but elements of mainstream rock, pop and old school rock influences into the stoner rock sound. We always hang out to the riffs. Bishop (ed: Chris) will always be a stoner rock guitar player, although I don’t want to say that putting the stoner rock guitar player label on anybody is a downgrade, but he is so much more than that, too. The guy has stinkface riffs for days. That will always be a part of the Crobot sound.
Who are your influences as a singer?
Man, there are so many. The obvious ones I think are Chris Cornell, Myles Kennedy, Dio, Ozzy, Robert Plant, Neil Fallon from Clutch, Josh Homme. Those guys, especially lyrically, just what they do, it’s a huge influence on what I try to bring to the table. There are just so many more that I could name, but those are the big ones, for sure.
Who has influenced you to play harmonica?
Ah, I don’t know! I just always loved it. I always loved harmonica and I thought it’s a lost instrument when it comes to rock nowadays. So, I think it was more or less a way to kind of bring something different to the table and you know, of course I’m a singer at the end of the day, I don’t want to carry much heavy equipment, so there is no much lighter than a harmonica, right?
What’s your reaction when people call you one of the greatest singers of your generation?
I don’t know. In the age of Youtube and so much talent that it’s out there waiting to be found, I don’t know… I tend to disagree, but to be in any sentence with any of the great singers right now, it’s truly an honour. It’s an honour that people even care about us enough to come see us play, let alone put me on a list like that. I’ll take it, but… (laughs).
You are not rock stars yet, so I guess you are having some hard moments on the road. Do you enjoy life on the road?
Absolutely. We live for the road, which made the last couple of years that much tougher. We are excited to get back out there, get back in the swinging things. We are certainly lucky, you said we aren’t rock stars, we are traveling around the world in a van and sleep in the van, but we love it. It’s what our lives have been missing, I know I am speaking for myself here, but my life has been missing live rock ‘n’ roll. We will just hopefully keep doing this. As long as we stay on the road, we stay performing and having again people caring for us enough to come out and see us play, that’s all what we can hope for.
Does your 4-year old daughter know what your job is?
(Laughs) I’ve actually been told by a doctor that -I don’t know if you believe this: “You are pretty much built for the stage”. A have a heart condition that if I am not in shape it can be a problem, but because I do what I do, I try to keep myself in a healthy stature that it actually works for my benefit. My cardiologist says: “The way we deal with stage fight is we can give people this pill to lower the pulse and lower the heart rate”. My heart rate sits at usually a steady 44 beats per minute, so I’ve been doctor approved for rock ‘n’ roll (laughs).
I asked if your daughter knows what your job is.
My daughter?! Oh, my daughter! She loves music and it’s in the blood, so once it’s in the blood, it’s hard to get out. I think she’s got something to put the word out when she gets of age, because she is already walking around singing songs about how she loves her mommy and daddy and her kitty cat and her puppy dog. I would play chords on the acoustic and she ‘ll just make up her own songs. So, she is already a performer. Believe it or not, my wife and I, we are in big trouble (laughs).
Do you feel lucky that you have a very loyal fanbase, the Beardos?
Yeah, I know every band says their fans are the best, but I just disagree, I think you will have hard time competing with the Beardos. They are very loyal and they are family. Honestly, it’s part of the enjoyment of getting out on the road that we get to see these people that we consider much more than friends and much more than fans. For instance, Matt and Fran Thomas, they are two of our Beardos that we stayed at their house during the making of “Motherbrain”, they let us stay at their house for six weeks. It’s just been incredible the lengths that the Beardos go to help and contribute to the process and we can’t thank them enough. That’s why we get up on stage and we play each show like our last, because the Beardos really put all this energy into all of us, so we ‘ve got to reciprocate, that’s for sure.
How much impact did the tour with Clutch in 2014-15 have on you as a young musician?
I still remember getting that phone call that we are getting in the Clutch tour. Clutch has been such a huge influence and inspiration to what we do and honestly it was one of those moments that we were waiting our whole life for and we were working our whole careers for. And I know Bishop, especially. Clutch is his favourite band and not that it isn’t one of mine, but I’ve been always known him to be such a huge Clutch fan and when we got that tour, I just remember we were like little schoolboys jumping up and down (laughs). It was definitely a shining moment.
I know that you are a fan of Black Sabbath’s “Vol. 4” (1972) album. What’s so special about it?
Front to back, in an album sense, I think it’s their best work. It’s one of those, that one and “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” (1973). I can go back and forth with them, too, but “Vol. 4” has “Supernaut” on it. I think that’s the only reason that makes me thumping up just a little bit (laughs), because that’s one of those songs that I wish I wrote. Just the story behind “Vol. 4”, I think. It also plays a role to why I love it so much, it’s such a rock ‘n’ roll story. I think and correct me if I’m wrong, this is the record that they took their advance and just blew it all in drugs and didn’t have enough money to spend on their actual record (laughs). I ‘m not condoning cocaine use by any means, but it’s such a rock ‘n’ roll story, you know: “Hey, let’s just party and worry about the album later” and it happens to be their best work in my opinion. That just can show you that it doesn’t take much to make a great record if the songs are great and maybe some extracurricular activities can sometimes get you there (laughs).
Do you think popular music which was written in the ’60s and ‘70s is much better than today’s music?
Yes. In a short answer, yeah. I think there is much more attention to detail nowadays, just because you think of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Sabbath, The Beatles even, the songs were all written in such a short period of time. It ‘s crazy to think really -and again correct me if I’m wrong, I’m not a historian here by any stretch of imagination- but we only had Jimi Hendrix around making music for what, 3-4 years as Jimi Hendrix, as Jimi Hendrix Experience. To just think of what he accomplished in such a little amount of time, it is just blowing your mind, because it is just a completely different method today. You write a record after about two years and Zeppelin were writing a record every six months. I think that was because they weren’t on the computers, writing and taking these creative breaks or anything like that. They put all of their energy into those songs in such a short period of time and didn’t overthink it. I think that albums were much better back then, too, because now nobody really thinks of writing albums. I mean, we do when it comes to sequencing, we sit down and try to figure out tracklisting. For the records we try to make an album, because we are fans of albums. We try to hold on to that as much as we can, but I think everything has gone to such a single mentality and that art is lost a little bit. So, I tend to go to the ‘60s and ‘70s for their great albums. I’ll say: “Yes” but at the same time I think there is more attention to detail with songs nowadays. So, maybe songs are better, so much as albums were better back then. But I don’t know, I always go backwards with my musical taste, anyway (laughs).
Was it a surreal experience to push Ron Jeremy’s car to a gas station?
(Mad laughs) Yeah! Yeah, absolutely! It’s one of those moments where people ask me about the craziest thing that ever happened on the road, that’s one of them. It’s not really because we are a band, that was just being in the right place at the right time or the wrong place at the wrong time depending on who you are talking to, but yeah, absolutely, just the whole way that that event unraveled is still unbelievable.
Do you think social media like Youtube and Facebook have helped listeners to learn about your music?
Absolutely. There’s never been a better time to discover new music than right now. It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time, because like I said I think people have so much less attention span, but for the marketing purposes of a band and getting yourself known and putting your name out there, there’s never been a better time for pushing your own brand, that’s for sure.
Do you have musical ambitions that you would like to achieve?
Absolutely. We are always working hard to outdo ourselves at the cost of sleep and many other things, but we always try to work harder than everybody else. I think that’s one of the things that help us stay afloat. We are always trying to move and not staying complacent in who we are as a band, what we sound like, what we look like as performers. We are always trying to up the ante on everything. As our nature intended, the core of who we are, we all just keep doing that and keep putting everything into our music. But I say this all the time: I want to be the first band to play on the moon.
How possible is it to see a Crobot concert in Greece?
Ah, we have been trying to get to Greece for a very long time. You guys have some amazing bands, especially in the stoner rock ground that comes out of Greece. So, we are very excited to finally get over there. When it will be, I’m not sure, but we are certainly trying to work our way over there. Going back to Clutch, one of the stories that I heard Neil Fallon talk about is going to Greece was one of the highlights of his career, not because that he expected nothing from Greece, but when he got there he just talked about how crazy the fans were about their band and about how an amazing experience it was for them as a band. We are in no way, shape or form close to the size as Clutch, but I can take a little bit of relativity in the statement. We ‘ve got a similar sound, I think we ‘ll translate it to Greece and your audience, for sure. So, we are really hoping to go.
I know that you are a book reader and that you like Hunter S. Thompson and Douglas Adams. Please tell us about your book influences, your favourite books etc.
“Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (ed: by Douglas Adams) is definitely my favourite book of all time. I just love the tongue-in-cheek; he doesn’t take himself too seriously as a writer and I love that. Also, I think there is a correlation: I grew up watching Monty Python and that kind of satire and sarcasm, is just so deeply rooted in that English style of humour that I think I really gravitate towards that. It might be dark at times, but I think that’s what I love about it. And Hunter S. Thompson aside from being a phenomenal writer, he is just a loose cannon and I love that about him. You can tell in his work. That guy is just batshit crazy and I love that about Hunter S. Thompson. Some of the ideology that he has written about is just mind-blowing to think about it. The whole political campaign that he did in Colorado it was something the he blew my mind for sure when I read about that.
He influenced your album.
More so “Welcome to the Fat City” (2016) because that was his whole thing as he wanted to change the name of the city to Fat City as he thought that he would steer the cigar-talking bigwigs away, which is such a reverse psychology. It’s just that: Who would think of that? To rename their city, “Fat City”, just trying to keep the greed away. It’s incredible.
A huge “THANK YOU” to Brandon Yeagley for his time. I should also thank Lauren Schuller for her valuable help.
Official Crobot website: https://crobotband.com/
Official Crobot Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Crobotband