After Robot have been around since 2012, with various changes to the band’s drummer over the years, they’ve now settled into this beautiful family which consists of Clifford Bryan on vocals, Joshua Pearlson on guitar, Jacques Jacobs on Bass guitar and Wayne Swart on drums.
This is not just a band, this is a close-knit group of guys, who share in the same passion for music, for their band and have the utmost respect and love for each other. They are band mates, they are friends but most importantly they are family.
This is what was so special about my time with these Robots, who were kind enough to allow me to cut into their rehearsal time to have a chat, and to watch their band practice.
Their debut album “How’z it Pal” was released back in 2016, and they now follow this up with another full length album entitled “The Land of Sirius Fairy Tales and Dreams”, which is set for release this Friday, 25 January 2019.
Your sound has changed over the years, it is a little heavier, bigger – let’s talk about the change from the first album, up until now?
“We’ve always tried to approach music as the music we want to hear. We have been working together to craft a style to incorporate a lot of different genres that feel familiar but is still something you’ve never heard. We call it groove rock. Our first album, How’z it Pal, was an introduction to that sound. We’ve had now two years to work on that sound and formulate it into a much more refined heavier feeling. The music as it stands represent where we have all been in our lives over the last two years up until now. It’s an amalgamation of life and refining our sound.”
What do you want people to know about you from this album?
“How’z it Pal, as Josh said, was a good introduction of what we had planned for as long as we lived. It was basically tapping into how we are going to make the songs happen while adding a jazz groove or a funk groove with a really rock bass. How’z it pal was a whole lot of different stories. I write stories. It’s the easiest way for me to bring across a message. When we were going to tour the States Jacques and I got stuck her waiting for our visas and we waited and waited. When josh and Wayne got back, and the band never actually went, we thought we should write a nice thank you note. I wanted to do it in a way that it wasn’t crude or rude or in your face. That’s when I wrote ‘Uncle Sam’. My vision for it was Uncle Sam at the gates of Oz and these four tin men are waiting to get in there, which are the Robots, so that is how I arrived with a strong fairy tale theme; writing strong metaphors but using fairy tales as a base. We have all been through so much since that time of the States. We just survived for the first year after that.”
“It was them coming home, and it felt like it was the band coming home again because we hadn’t played for 3 months, which was never the case for After Robot. We had never not played. That was a very ‘blues’ moment for us.”
“’Waiting for the Rain’ is something I wrote 13 years ago, but once again it was something that had such a strong fairytale metaphor. This whole album is basically a story of a couple who are living happily ever after and then they decide to take a walk through this cursed wood and that’s how the story starts. It is basically about them being torn apart. Them being cursed, pulls through the whole world. So it is kind of like us going through bad times in relationships and how it affects everyone around you, including the band.”
After Robot were nominated by SAMMA for ‘Best Live Performance 2016′.
After Robot for me is all about the live show – you guys are incredible on stage – how are you able to capture that energy in a studio album?
“Capturing the live essence of the band isn’t so much about the guitar or the drums, although the drums on this album are insane.”
“The drums were recorded on a R100 000.”
“In a massive room.”
With ten mics in the room…”
My father said it best, ‘It sounds like us but more expensive.’
“Josh spent 5 days in there with his dad, Peter, who produced the album with us. I went down two weeks later and recorded in a room with old wood and two mics to record the ambience, so it feels more live. It helps the story telling. I’ve listened to this album more than I listened to How’z it Pal.”
“Before Josh and Cliff did their tracking, me, Jacques and Josh spent 24 hours doing our tracking and the head space from a live show to the recording didn’t change. So I went in every time, to record a song 5 or 6 times and every time I played it, it was like a performance and I think that has been captured onto the album.”
“We have a good feeling of pride and are grateful to be able to share this with the world. We put everything on the line for this and we are so incredibly proud of what we have to show people.”
Talk about the art work.
“Me and Cliff drew art pieces, so the whole album is an art piece on its own. If you look through the booklet itself and if you go through the album itself, it is like reading a fairy tale book. All the pieces flow into each other from two aspects of art. It’s an art piece musically and visually.”
You are all different personalities and come with different genres – describe each one of you?
Josh: “I will describe Jacques. Jacques is desert rock, stoner rock, doom, groove bass driven, hard grungy…. But that’s also the music he listens to.”
Wayne: “I knew Cliff outside of being in the band, as I was a fan before. Cliff is the consummate showman, whether it’s on stage or off stage. He always wants the limelight but couple that with loyalty as well as a very well educated musical mind. He is also a little bit of a father figure as he is the oldest and he is a Bergie.”
Cliff: “Wayne for me, personality wise has brought a lot of us back. He reminded us why we started After Robot. He is extremely charismatic and he is a hard working dude. The amount he has grown in a year is insane. For Peter, who is a legend, to turn around and say that this guy is a hard worker, says a lot . He has shown us great loyalty and dedication. He looks at what he can take outside of making music and improve and he is an Armish Bergie.”
Jacques: “Josh has introduced me to very technical, very soulful music and that for me captures what we do in rehearsal and on stage. He will play the most obscure piece of music and it sounds weird, but then as a unit together and as a working machine, it makes sense. That’s like describing Josh – he is far out as hell but when he puts a guitar in his hand, everything makes sense. His guitar tone and the way that poor pedal has seen dirt roads and tours is crazy, that has developed his sound. You can hear he is on guitar, that it is him.”
“Because of our charismatic performance we get booked to play a lot of metal shows with the metal guys and I would arrive there with my little amp. I’ll never forget we were playing at Iron Tusk, that place behind Carfax, and I arrived there and it was our turn to get on stage, and I put my amp down on whatever was next to me and I was setting up, and then I turned around and it was gone. I had put it on someone’s big stack and they carried it off stage. I think they did it to rip me off a little because I’m playing on this crappy amp. I got on stage and the tone was particularly there that night and when I walked off stage, those guys with the giant amps, asked me how I got that sound, in awe. I didn’t know what to tell them.”
“Over and above our four different personalities, it must be said, that I have played in a few bands before, and we are incredibly tight, off stage and on stage; we do hang out a lot but we are incredibly close.”
“And we still approach this as a business and we all know this. So nothing business wise is taken personally, and everything is discussed and agreed upon before we move forward with anything. We were friends and family first but the business is why we are in this. We make sure to separate our work and friendships.”
Don’t miss the launch of their new album at Rusty Hook this Friday, 25 January 2019.
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