Crobot, a hard rock quartet from PA recently released their fifth studio album Feel This and their lead single, "Set You Free" has cracked the Top 30 on the Mainstream Rock charts.
We had the chance to chat with lead singer Brandon Yeagley to discuss the new album, his career and the bands future plans.
Greg Drugan: Hey Brandon, I wanted to congratulate you on your new album “Feel This,” you have a lot of rockers on the album and I feel it’s your best record yet.
Brandon Yeagley: Oh, thanks man! We were really excited about this one. We’ve been sitting on these songs for a long time and we’ve been playing some of these songs in a live setting for almost a year now. It feels good to finally have people hear a studio version of what we’ve been playing live.
GD: What was it like recording the album, were you all in the studio or did you have to do some of it remotely?
BY: We did the whole record in twenty-two days. We did it in Austin, Texas. We waited until it was safe for everyone to be in the room together and we did it as quick as we could.
GD: Your latest single, “Set You Free” is great and is having success on the charts. Did you originally write that on piano?
BY: No, you know ironically enough that was one of the songs that almost didn’t make the record. Sometimes songs are really easy and they write themselves and that was the instance for that one. We wrote it and set it on the shelf and never came back to it. We gave the mountain of material to our record label to listen through and “Set You Free” was one of their favorite songs. It wasn’t done until we got to the studio and we started messing around with it. They were sitting on the couch, writing the bridge, meanwhile I was in the other room working ideas out on the piano. They came in and was like, “woa, what is this you’re playing?” We ended up laying it down and it ended up being the start to the track. It happened in a serendipitous way.
GD: Do you have a favorite track on the album? I really like “Dance With The Dead.” I can imagine singing along with that one in concert.
BY: Yeah, that’s a different one for us for sure. We go through these periods when we are writing. We go through a set of songs that are like classic metal and then some stuff might sound like Clutch and the next five songs might sound like arena rock. That’s where “Dance With The Dead” came from. We were going for the ‘80s arena rock vibe. It’s a new venture for us and even Bishop was like, “are you sure you want to put a song on with a major key?” All of our songs are in a minor key. (laughs) I think a favorite for me is “Set You Free” because you often go into a record and you try not to think about writing a song as a single. That’s what we did with “Set You Free” and that’s the kind of vibe that lend us to keeping it on the shelf. We set forth to write a single and we were able to do that on our own, in such a way to come back to that it almost didn’t even make the record. Sometimes it takes a little extra push to see something in a song, especially when you are so close to it.
GD: Sure, sometimes you have to step away, or like you said, keep it on the shelf and then come back to it and see what you can do with it. Another one that gets me pumped up is “Electrified.” How did that song come about?
BY: We worked on a few songs with some writers. We worked with Johnny Anders on that one, we did a few Zoom sessions and then we ventured down to Atlanta to do some finishing touches on that one. We wanted to rip off Sabbath. We haven’t really ever had such a fast paced, heavy song. We were really excited to have that come out. We finally found a song we can open the set with that’s not “The Legend of the Spaceborn Killer.” (laughs) It’s taken years to tackle that accolade.
GD: Very good. You guys just got off tour with Shaman’s Harvest. Do you have any plans to play out this summer?
BY: Yeah! We are working on the schedule now. We don’t have anything set in stone. We have the Psycho Vegas Festival in August that we will make our way to and from. Things will start coming down the pipeline shortly. At the end of the year, we are headed overseas with Airborne and Blues Pills so it’s going to be a busy rest of the year.
GD: I wanted to look back on your career, who were some of your influences growing up?
BY: Oh, Deep Purple, Rainbow, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Beatles, Corrosion of Conformity, Black Crows, Soundgarden, Clutch, Type O Negative, Frank Zappa. I’m kinda all over the place. James Brown, Prince. Whether it’s stage moves or stage gear. It’s all in there.
GD: You sound like me, a pretty eclectic group of people. When did you know you wanted to be in a rock band?
BY: There was my very first tour that I was on when I was eighteen years old, going back to my pop punk days. We were traveling and we went as far as Texas and I remember being in the van not knowing when our next meal was going to happen and not knowing where our next shower was going to happen. Literally taking Old Spice body wash to clean ourselves. I had the time of my life. I said to myself, if I can make it through this, I can make it through anything. That’s when I realized that I could not live without performing live music. That’s exactly what I wanted to do and I spent the next two years of my life ditching class, and playing guitar. Before I realized I was digging a hole of debt to do what I wanted to do anyway. It took me a few years to make the jump but here I am, how many years later and still doing it. I still can’t imagine my life without it.
GD: Do you remember the first band you saw in concert and how did that impact you?
BY: Type O Negative.
GD: How old were you?
BY: I want to say thirteen or fourteen. Somewhere along those lines. I went there with one of my uncles and this uncle in particular is pretty responsible for a lot of my music taste. He showed me the way to approach going to shows. He’d show up hours early just to get a glimpse of the band hanging out back stage or walking around town. I was totally hypnotized by that. The excitement of the chase of meeting these people so I kinda carried that with me.
But yeah, Type O Negative. Peter Steele drank a jug of wine and ripped the bass strings off his bass at the end of the show. It was something I’ll never forget. I often say that Type O Negative was my first concert and I often get the same response! (laughs) It was a great first concert and a great experience.
GD: How did you end up meeting Chris Bishop, are you guys from the same town?
BY: No, Bishop moved from Tennessee to central Pennsylvania to join a cover band. Out of the ashes of that band, he gave me a call one day and said his band was looking for a bassist. At that point in time, I was a bass player in the cover band circuit as well. He said their bass player was bowing out and they were looking for someone to fill his shoes and they thought I was the guy. He asked if I would be willing to audition for the band and I said no. (laughs) The guys I was with were letting me sing and be the lead singer and I was ready to take on that opportunity, so I passed on playing bass in Bishop’s band. His guitar player circled back to me again and said, “I really think you’re the guy. Why don’t you just get in the room with us, then say no?” Obviously I got in the room and said yes. That band only lasted a year or so. The singer wanted to do an original thing. The singer in that band was Mick Coil who sang for a band, Lifer. Lifer was basically Breaking Benjamin without Ben. He was a very legendary musical icon from where I grew up.
In that month of time and Mick wanted to get back with his old bandmates, I was like sure, I’m not going to stand in your way. That’s how Crobot was born. Bishop and I were driving two hours for every practice, spending a lot of time in the car together and we quickly realized that we were cut from the same cloth and once that band was over, let’s do our own thing here. We like the same music and I said, “if you don’t mind, I’d just like to sing.” He said yeah, let’s do it. Here we are eleven years later.
GD: That’s awesome. I have to ask, how did the two of you come up with the name, Crobot?
BY: We were searching for names and nothing was coming to the forefront. We asked one of our buddies, “got any old band laying around that you don’t want or maybe we could have?” He said, “No, but what do you sound like?” Bishop said “We want to be riffy like Crowbar but I use these robotic effects on my pedals.” He said, “Well, what about Crobot?” That’s it. We dropped the w and called it a day.
GD: Very good. You have had a couple of drummers and bassists in the band since you started, what does Dan and Tim bring to the rhythm section that may have been missing before?
BY: Dan is just an absolute machine when it comes to drums and keeping time. He’s just a powerhouse. He gets up there and hits it as hard as he can. He’s still the best drummer we’ve ever had. Outside of that, he’s just a great human being. We are better people just being around Dan. Tim is the same. He’s the freshest face. During COVID, our touring bass player at the time just bought a car and a house and he said, “I just can’t afford going out on the road with you guys.” We know what we pay you, so we totally understand. So we were suggested Tim by Tim. Our management knows Tim, they asked him if he knew any bass players for our band and he said, “what about me?” So we flew him out and auditioned him and we wanted to go through a process of auditions. I live in Pennsylvania and the rest of the guys are in Texas. So instead of me being there the whole time, we said we would do it in rounds. We went through the first round and we didn’t have anyone else to audition. Bishop said “this our guy.” I said “we don’t have anyone to compare him to.” As a formality, we had a couple of other guys to come in and try out and I ate crow. As soon as I got in a room with Tim, I understood why Bishop got on the Tim train. He fit in so quickly, the right personality to fit in with us. That’s very important, almost as much as playing ability is. We get thrown around the world in a sardine can, so you have to like each other.
GD: Do you have any memories of playing in Cleveland, since we are Cleveland based here and what are your thoughts on our city.
BY: Yeah! I love Cleveland! I remember playing The Agora. We played there a couple of times. We played there with Clutch which was the highlight of our career and I believe Clutch’s merch guy, Shawn is from Cleveland. We have some friends in the area and we love coming through. Blue collar rock and roll cities are the best for us and Cleveland is that and we love coming to Cleveland.
GD: Brandon, I wish you nothing but the best on the new album. I really dig it and I think it rocks. I will let everyone know that it’s out there and they should give it a listen. I can’t wait to check you guys out when you come to town!
BY: Absolutely! We will be making the rounds and we hope we can stop in! Thanks Greg!
Check out Crobot's new album, Feel This wherever you purchase music. In the meantime, you can watch and listen to their latest single "Set You Free" below.