Crobot’s Chris Bishop on the aggressive expansion of his guitar playing vocabulary and the art of a gnarly groove

Chris Bishop
(Image credit: Daniel Boczarski/Redferns)

Chris Bishop has an eye for the iconic. When he’s not touring with hard rockers Crobot, the Austin-based musician is inking bodies at a local tattoo shop with an assortment of classically gnarly grim reapers, skull-concealing florae and even his band’s own cursive-script logo – at least when the customer in the chair is aware of his high-voltage riffing.

“I’ll mention that I’m in a band, and they’ll be like, ‘Oh I think I’ve heard of you guys,’’’ Bishops says. “Then they look up [Crobot], and they’ll know Low Life. That’s our Cherry Pie, you know?”

Like Warrant’s early ’90s hair metal hit, Crobot’s anthemically chunky Low Life, off 2019’s Motherbrain, has racked up millions of listens on streaming services. The comparison is just as sweet when it comes to the cover art for Crobot’s latest release, Feel This, which presents an ice cream cone being held by someone sporting a pair of brass knuckles. 

It’s an apt visual metaphor for Crobot’s fourth full-length release, which merges some of the group’s most hook-loaded choruses with Bishop and new bassist Tim Peugh’s penchant for unified, dirt-nasty, chromatic grooving.

“Before, there’d be times I would pride myself on ‘I only play single notes the entire song,’ because I thought that was cool,” Bishop says of a previously chord-sparing approach, a by-product of his love of bands like Clutch. “Now there’s a little more diversity, which can make for better songs. And it makes it easier for [vocalist] Brandon [Yeagley] to sing.”

Crobot remain a hard-sweatin’ quartet giving their all on tour. With Livin’ on the Streets – a motor-revvin’ rip through the back alleys of the Sunset Strip, circa 1981 – Bishop was stoked to add to the road-worn canon of “rock songs about rockin’.”

“It’s about us living on the streets, being in a band. We sleep in our van,” Bishop says. “That’s our home away from home. A lot of times we don’t have a green room, so we’re thankful to have it.”

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Gregory Adams

Gregory Adams is a Vancouver-based arts reporter. From metal legends to emerging pop icons to the best of the basement circuit, he’s interviewed musicians across countless genres for nearly two decades, most recently with Guitar World, Bass Player, Revolver, and more – as well as through his independent newsletter, Gut Feeling. This all still blows his mind. He’s a guitar player, generally bouncing hardcore riffs off his ’52 Tele reissue and a dinged-up SG.