We started our interview with JBOT, Captured! By Robots front man, captive and creator by playing a small bout of phone tag. You see, his internet went out and that sent his mind racing. Once we touched base, he said, “For a second I thought the whole world went out. Wouldn’t that be something? People would lose their damn minds.” Our conversation started out with thoughts of our own destruction which wound up being the perfect segue to our interview.
“That’s what my whole band’s about really. It used to be different--we used to have fun. We still have fun but it’s like...we did some political stuff but nothing was that bad. I had to quit that band because I couldn’t stand the campiness of what it used to be. I quit that and it took two years to restart, so when I did I wanted to do it about stuff that happened each day and that I care about. Unfortunately that’s how humanity is. Just ruining everything -- we’re just kind of screwed up.” He said.
Captured! By Robots may be the most metal band you’ll ever see. Aside from JBOT the band consists of foul mouthed robots that he created and then held their creator hostage--hence the name: Captured! By Robots. They had a number of themed tours such as a musical adaptation of “The Ten Commandments,” a funk tour, a hip hop tour and even “I got married by Captured! By Robots,” think “The Wedding Singer” but with guttural vocals backed by a band of malicious rockin’ robots. “I always loved really heavy sh*t and after a while of doing that I started into playing covers.” He went on to say, “It’s hard because you’re kind of lying to yourself with that because people are applauding but they’re not applauding for you, they’re applauding for the memories that they had of that song. It took a friend of mine to call me out on it. To send me down this horrible path of thinking what the f*ck am I doing?”
“At some point the joke isn’t funny anymore. It gets stale, humor is a timely thing. You have to keep evolving with sh*t, unfortunately this was my evolution...to play this awful horrible music.” He laughs.
How has the band evolved? He’s taken more of a political stance and tackles topics such as gentrification and issues that hit closer to home. There’s more screaming and JBOT ditched his signature mask. He acknowledges that he’s probably lost some fans during this period but he was prepared for backlash. “I’d rather have one-half the people come and see me who used to see me or even less… maybe none of them. I took a demotion because it’s something I really really want to do.” He said.
Captured! By Robots started their reign of terror in 1997. JBOT played in a number of bands around the bay area but came to realize he didn’t want to play with others so he created his own band. Inspired by the sounds of the cassette tape sampling in addition to the instrumentation of the band Steel Pole Bathtub. “I kept thinking, I’m looking for a guitar player...can’t find one. I want to make crazy sounds between playing bass and playing drums like robot guitar and it was like OF COURSE! Just make a robot guitar.”He went on to say, “But I thought, how do you do a robot guitar? HOW? So I just started. I got some wood and bought some metal and put it together and I got something that kind of worked, it was kinda like a slide guitar but it wasn’t tonal. It was a horrible sound but it was the beginning.”
He eventually got rid of his drummer and repeated the aforementioned process and created a robot drummer one piece at a time. “I literally picked a kick drum of of a homeless man’s shopping cart ad bought it from him for $20.” JBOT manned his robot drum by controlling it with his feet and kicking backwards using a set of pedals that control the drums as well as brake cables off of a bicycle. “I was running in place playing those drums and doing it all. That was the beginning and it kept evolving from there. It worked great but it killed me physically.” he said. JBOT is challenging drummers everywhere to out-drum Drumbot0110,who is reputed to drum 600 BPM, doubling the human record. The real question is, in a bout of man vs. machine -- does anyone in Fargo have what it takes or will Drumbot0110 claim yet another victory?
IF YOU GO:
Captured! By Robots at the Aquarium
Saturday, October 20, 9pm
The Aquarium, 226 N Broadway, Fargo
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