Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Robots and Empire interview with Bassist: Greg. March 26, 2010.

Vista:Who's in the band & who doin' what? Also, give us a history of the band, ex-band members & what has been released to date , year started? 

Greg: Brian- vocals, Nick - guitar, Jay - drums, Greg - bass. We all played together in a band called When Dreams Die (ex-Elevate, ex-Drowning Room for your xerox print readers...Eclipse, anyone?), that self destructed in the summer of 2004 and we played our first show as Robots And  Empire that August.  We've released 2 CDEPs and 2 full length CDs since.  The first 2 were self released on our own Glacial Recordings, and the others were put out by Trip Machine Labs. 

Vista: You guys have been a band for a long time now. What are some of your thoughts on the "scene" now, as opposed to many years ago? What are some differences from back then, if any?

Greg: Most of us are 30 years old or better, so I don't think that really puts us in a position to comment on the "scene" as it is now.  It's not ours, that's all I know.  

Vista: I was checking out your myspace site & came across a "blog" that was titled, "music business". I know that blog is still up, but for readers of this fanzine, tell a bit about that & some of your thoughts on that?
Greg: That post was written to record a time in our lives that we found to be important to our band's progress. Obviously there are  more besides that particular series of experiences, but we haven't time to write about them. As far as thoughts, the writing has enough of those, and we encourage your readers to check it out: 

Vista: Tell us about the label, Trip Machine Labs. Are you guys still with them? I heard you guys have some new recordings. Will this be on that label & how did Robots And Empire hook up with Trip Machine Labs to begin with? 

Greg: Our first 2 recordings were self released.  At the time we finished recording the songs for our 3rd, "Omnivore", we were just too broke to put anything else out. Chris at Trip Machine was also broke, but released the recording as a CD on his label anyway because he liked the songs, and then again for the "Color Touches" EP.  Chris also helped with distribution of our self released stuff.  Greg and Chris' old bands Drowning Room and Atlas Shrugged used to play together almost weekly and Trip Machine actually released Drowning Room's first 7".We are very grateful to Chris for everything he's done for us. Best dude. As far as future releases, we've got to embrace today's technology.  I feel like the Compact Disc as a musical media format is taking it's last breath, with the digital download taking over.  We will continue to put out digital singles with the possibility of compiling those singles for full length vinyl releases. Whether we do that on our own or with a label is yet to be determined. 

Vista: Robots And Empire? This is another famous fanzine question...Where did that name come from & any meaning? 

Greg: It's the title of an Isaac Asimov novel.  You'd have to ask him what it means.  We just thought it sounded cool and sort of abstract in the context of a band name. 

Vista: What's going on with the music scene, locally? Any good bands? Is there a "local" scene or is it a dead issue?

Greg: We play a lot of shows with Casket Architects and Glass Half Empty. We love those guys. Though our world is admittedly insulated, there seems to be a lot going on within it. Check out the Glacial records blog at There is a lot of music posted on there from all kinds of local musicians that we love and respect. Jay has a bunch of songs up there, as does this project Paul Thorstenson and Evan Schlomann have put together. Most of the people from Robots and Empire and Casket Architects and Paul have also been working on a project called Spare Parks. We love Mabus and Dead Unicorn. So it seems there's a lot going on, but I'm afraid it's somewhere parallel to the scene, and attached to it only peripherally. 

Vista: Describe your style to people who might not have heard Robots And Empire. I know it is easy to lump you guys in the "hardcore" scene, but is that misconception? I know you guys are doing something completely different than what is commonly referred to as "hardcore". Thoughts?

Greg: Having grown up playing in metal bands in the Dutchess/Orange County hardcore scene in the past and continuing to play DIY style shows is probably why anyone might say we are a hardcore band but musically, i think that's a stretch. If you asked the youth of today (see what i did there?) if Robots and Empire is a hardcore band, I think that person might say something like "that space-metal bullshit?  fuck no!!" 

Vista: Have you guys done any touring through the years? Also, what have been some of the best shows that you guys have played? On the flip side, because there always has to be a flip side...What have been some of the most disastrous shows ever & why? 

Greg: We've pretty much stuck to weekend outings on the East Coast. The best shows are the ones where we dont get lost along the way, none of our shit breaks, people watch us when we play and we get paid. Sometimes those things don't happen and it's usually fun anyway. Last year we got to play a couple shows with a band called The Life And Times and that was a really big deal for us. We really look up to those guys. Allen Epley is like the godfather of midwest rock. 

Vista: I had mentioned that I did a review for a couple of your Cd's in my last issue of this zine. I said something like, "I'd say they are post-hardcore, but what the hell does does POST-HARDCORE really mean"? I went on to say that post-hardcore is commonly referred to the band Quicksand. I'd definitely say that you guys are influenced by band. True/false? Also, who are direct influences to Robots And Empire? 

Greg: This winter we were to play a showcase at the Mercury Lounge in NYC.  It had been snowing but only an inch or two had accumulated so we started heading down there anyway.  About 30 minutes into the trip, we made the decision that none of us were comfortable traveling  in that weather and it would be best to turn around and head back home. Jay was the first to suggest this, but we were all thinking it already. Jay also once said to me that when he was 16 years old, he would have died for hardcore.  I guess thats our definition of post hardcore. Musically, I would say Led Zeppelin is no less important to us than Bad Brains, and some other direct influences include Keyshia Cole, The Police, Tom Waits and New Order. And Quicksand. 

Vista: What is the writing process like, for the band? Are there main writers for the band or is it a collaboration? How are songs generally written? I mean, is it music first, then lyrics or lyrics built around music?

Greg: I don't know that we're clever enough to build a song around lyrics to help illustrate a story, though that would be an interesting challenge.  The lyrics are either written separately or written to an existing musical arrangement, Brian being the main lyricist.  Jay, Nick and Greg write the music, sometimes individually, sometimes collaboratively.  We really have no process, each song has its own life cycle. 

Vista: Why aren't your lyrics printed in the layout of any of your Cd's? I have two Robots And Empire Cd's & no lyrics? Is there are reason for this? Are you just being secretive pains in the ass?! 

Greg: Well printing lyrics means more pages in a CD booklet, which costs more money to produce.  Lyrics for the "Color Touches" EP are posted on our myspace page, which is something we should probably do for "Omnivore" and "Cast Shadows On Dragons".  So a degree of laziness also plays into that. 

Vista: That's all the questions that I have for you. Thanks a lot for doing this interview. Is there anything else you'd like to say? Shout outs?

Greg: Casket Architects, Glass Half Empty, Park Ranger, Spare Parks, Glacial Recordings, Mabus, Doctor Scientist, The Lows, Wrench In The Works, Tiger Flowers, Dead Unicorn, Nervous Band, Brett Laffin, Mike Cronin, Trip Machine Laboratories, Azimuth Mastering.  That's whats up. Thanks for the questions!

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