Back to Archives

New wave of music in area

It’s glitchy, bleeping, oscillating and droning

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

This week Club Impact hosts a night of electronic bands featuring Bellingham band Robotronica. Since I’ve been waiting for a day when Tacoma would embrace its inner robot, I decided to devote my column to the subject.

Though there has been a thriving electronic music scene in Seattle for years thanks to bands such as Mercir, the Fading Collection, KUMA, Daylight Basement and Dahlia, the South Sound has been slower to put down the axes and take up the synths. Tacoma is a guitar-driven town, no doubt about it. But now, a new breed of electronic music has emerged, a hybrid of guitars and computers. Well OK, it’s not really new. Radiohead has been doing it since OK Computer, but it’s somewhat new to this generation, and now it’s easier than ever for young indies to obtain this sound with so many cool music toys on the market.

Rob Anderson of Robotronica was classically trained on piano and grew up listening to death punk, beat-driven techno and underground music. Anderson plays keyboards, guitar and sings. Tom King joined Robotronica last year to play electric guitar. King’s influences were mainly heavy metal, but he likes any high energy music he can rip and shred to. Joe Neal — occasional bass player for the band, owner of Eye Fork Records, and producer of Robotronica’s album, Peace Love and Robots — is responsible for many of the cool sound effects, oscillation and synths on the album and in the background tracks that the band performs with when they play live. Neal’s influences lean toward the heavier electronic stuff like KFMDM.

“We’ve got a lot of people interested in our sound because not a lot of bands do what we do. We do pop/punk mixed with techno,” explains Anderson.

Anderson is the main songwriter of the group. Robotronica was originally his solo project. The band started under the name Project Mayhem when he lived in Idaho, where he went to college, but due to licensing issues with the movie “Fight Club,” he changed the name to Robotronica. “We love Robots,” says Anderson.

All three guys are best of friends. They share a pretty serious Xbox addiction as well, which they acknowledge has made an impact on their music. “It’s a big influence on how we write,” says Anderson, “like Nintendo patches and synth sounds we tried to imitate.”

“If I could go back in time and change one thing,” admits Anderson, “I’d ask my parents to buy me a guitar instead of a Nintendo. I’ve only been playing [guitar] about five years. I wish I had started earlier.”

King, on the other hand, received a Fender Telecaster for Christmas when he was 15. “It sunk its claws into me immediately, and it’s been attached to me ever since,” says King.

Anderson started piano lessons at age 9.

“I’m a big music nerd too,” says Anderson, “I’ll read music theory books for like five hours. We arpeggiate a lot of our synth lines. I’m the writer/composer. Tom is the riffer/shredder.”

Anderson plays a cheap Casio keyboard. “Nothing fancy,” he says, “but it gets the job done.”

“We just wanna have fun,” explains Anderson, “Our live show is ridiculous and almost annoying. Sometimes we get in people’s faces, in their personal space. You have to see us live, it’s quite an experience. We put a lot into it. There is a lot of audience participation whether they want to or not!

“There’s a lot of hand clapping,” he laughs. “We just try to get everyone to dance and have a good time. We hate it when people just stand there and watch. We’ve actually stopped the show when that happens.”

“I just get up in their face and shred at them!” adds King.

Along with original songs from the album, which should be finished and available for purchase this weekend, Robotronica will also play a few cover songs such as “Take on Me” by A-Ha, “Whip it” by Devo, “Dancin’ with Myself” by Billy Idol, and “Spin Me Right Round” by Dead or Alive. Most of the band’s original material centers on provoking spontaneous dancing. I especially like the song where he sings, “I sold out and wrote a song about MySpace.”

Dancing robots with a sense of humor. I can’t wait to be assimilated.

[Club Impact, with Love You Long Time, Lesserside Sequel and Basic Radio, Saturday, May 5, 7 p.m., all ages, $8, 754 Pacific Ave., Tacoma,]

comments powered by Disqus