Insects vs Robots are a stellar psychedelic band from Los Angeles, that I learned about this summer. These guys unleash awe inspiring jams at their concerts and are super cool. By buddy Tom turned me on to them, one of the best recommendations I have gotten in a while.
How do you all create these jams? Is it a big communal jam session, does everyone have little individual pieces that you bring together for one swirling song of goodness, some combination of the two?
Some combination of the two. Usually someone comes with a skeleton of a song or basic idea and we collectively improvise with it until it fleshes itself out, adding parts, making an arrangement. Other times a single idea is formed in a jam and we collectively build a song from that musical idea, experimenting and making changes until we are fully satisfied. Often we’ll keep changing, developing and fine-tuning songs many months after the initial creation. After a song has been played live many times if often takes on a new life or dimension that we did not expect at first and we make changes based on that evolution.
You all are recording a second album, how is that going? What can we expect from it? When recording do you guys like to do live improv in a room together?
After an extremely busy year of shows and travel we have settled into our headquarters-studio The Cozy Castle for the last couple months of the year in order to record the follow-up to this year’s release, Geryl and the Great Homunculus. The new album will feature other dimensions of our sound not captured on the first release. In addition to some new face-melting epics that we have been know for previously, the new record will feature our more mellow, narrative, story-songs that have become a staple of our live set as well. We have a lot of new material so we might end up recording enough for two new albums. There will definitely be a vinyl release of the next album which we are very excited about.
When recording we like to capture the energy of a live performance as much as possible. Usually that means tracking the drums, bass, and rhythm guitar tracks simultaneously in a live studio performance and overdubbing the vocals, violin, lead guitar and other noises. We’ve found this works best to get the best balance of sound quality and concert-level intensity.
You all are from Southern California, how has that influenced your sound? LA has one of the best art/punk scenes in the Smell and the Low End Theory, do either of scenes influence your sound? You all remind me of Commits on Fire and Black Mountain, are either of these bands influential on your sound?
Southern California is our home but only 2 of us (Milo and Maggie) are truly Californians by birth. I grew Georgia and lived in NYC previously to CA, Tony is from Connecticut, Nikita from Illinois/Russia, and Micah from Maui/Texas. Our varying backgrounds have definitely contributed greatly to our eclectic mix of influences. Venice Beach was the place where we formed and is still our spiritual home and the madness of the boardwalk culture continues to inspire us and be the ground zero for our ever-expanding tribe. The Smell has been one of our favorite venues and very supportive since the beginning. The DIY bare-bones aesthetic and all-ages shows make it a perfect home for us in downtown and we like to play there as often as possible.
I can’t say that either of those bands specifically are influences but I have heard them and to me they are just two of a new generation of bands coming up right now, its a very exciting time. Its taken a long time for our generation to absorb what has come before us and make something new, but from my experience that is now happening and in a great varying range of styles and sounds. It is difficult to pinpoint specific bands of today as an influence although the heroes of the 60’s and 70’s era (Amon Duul II, Fela Kuti, Zappa, Hawkwind, Miles Davis, Yes, Soft Machine to name just a few) are still some of the most inspiring to us.
Any plans to tour the US? I learned about Insects vs Robots when I was living at home in California, but I now live in Boston and I think the East Coast could use some of your rocking psychedelia.
Yes, in the next year we plan on expanding our reach farther up the west coast and then extending our tentacles east towards Austin, the southeast, and then up the eastern seaboard. I was just in NY a few weeks ago and I’m super-excited to bringing what we do to Brooklyn especially in the in the near future.