There once was a time when rock radio was dominated by great riffs, a period when the only thing that mattered was that unmistakable guitar sound that instantly identified a band or song.
Thankfully, the four members of Crobot — Brandon Yeagley (lead vocals), Chris Bishop (guitar), Jake Figueroa (bass) and Paul Figueroa (drums) — have made it their mission to bring back elements of those days.
Crobot’s new album, Something Supernatural, was produced by Machine (Clutch, Lamb of God, Cobra Starship, Gym Class Heroes) and will be released October 28 on WindUp. It incorporates a lot of riff-heavy groove and funk mixed with a modernized spin.
I recently spoke with Bishop about the new album, his gear and more. As a bonus, we're also presenting the worldwide premiere of the new video for “Skull of Geronimo,” which was created by Bishop (who also happens to be a visual artist). Check out the interview and “Skull of Geronimo” below!
GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe Something Supernatural?
I like to say it’s like “Clutch meets Funkadelic” with a little bit of doom tossed in there. It’s definitely on the heavier side of things.
What was the writing process like?
We rehearsed and wrote the album in this shed behind Brandon’s house. It was inside this room that was filled with deer heads and things like that [laughs]. It was a super-cool place to jam in.
Most of the songs started out as previous ideas or as riffs and structures I brought to the table. Others would come out of jams where Jake would come up with a riff. That’s the beauty of being a riff-rock band. Sometimes the coolest pentatonic riffs are the ones people connect with the most.
What can you tell me about the song “Nowhere to Hide”?
That song was one of the first ones we collectively wrote as a band when we got together with Jake and Paul. I remember we wanted to write a song similar to Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen,” with a heavy riff and groove people will remember.
What about the track “Skull of Geronimo”?
That was written during that same session. Jake and I were in the writing room mapping out really technical riffs that just went on forever. We eventually cut them down and put a little Rage Against the Machine flair to it. That’s how the chorus riff came to be. For the verses, we wanted to take it in more of an ambient Soundgarden kind of direction. I really like that whirly delay sound on the guitar.
What was it like working with Machine?
It was amazing. Machine did some of our favorite albums of all time, and working with him was like having a fifth member of the band. He’s someone you can really trust to help you make the decisions you need to make. The recording tricks and tones he gets and the way he pulls creative things out of you that you never knew that you had is incredible.
Tell me a little about your musical upbringing and the origin of Crobot.
I first started learning how to play guitar when I was 10 and got good at it pretty quick. I took a little break while I was in high school to play baseball but still continued to play. My mom was the one who always said I needed to move and become a musician. So once I turned 20, I moved to Pennsylvania, where I met Brandon and we started Crobot.
Who were some of your influences?
The one player that influenced me the most and to this day I still love is Audley Freed (Cry of Love). I hear a lot of his influence in my own playing. I’m also a big fan of Rage Against the Machine and Clutch. Tim Sult’s simplicity and the way he uses effects is phenomenal.
What’s your current setup?
I’m all Orange and have used them for years. I also play Telecasters. My main one right now is a 60th anniversary American Tele. My back up is a '72 Tele Custom with P90’s in it. My pedal board has two fuzzes, two octaves, a wah and a tuner. I also have a really crazy oscillator delay that I had modded a bit. I took out the tap and changed the knobs around so I could manipulate it with my foot. I use that to build tension. You can definitely hear it in the songs. It almost sounds like a spaceship taking off.
What excites you the most about Something Supernatural?
We made a bold statement with this album and had a lot of people behind us who really believed in what we were doing. Machine really knew what we were going for as far as hard-hitting grooves and powerful riffs — and who doesn’t love that?
For more about Crobot, visit crobotband.com.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.