an interview with the former Buckcherry bassist Jonathan Brightman
by Tina Hall
Black Robot was founded by former Buckcherry bassist Jonathan “JB” Brightman and Detroit raised frontman Huck Johns. The self titled debut was produced by Dave Cobb for record label Rocket Science Ventures. It features Yogi on lead guitar and Devon Glenn on drums who are both former members of Buckcherry. Black Robot also features Darren Dodd and Chris Powell lending a hand on percussion, and the legendary session keyboard wizard Fred Mandell (Elton John, Pink Floyd, Queen). The album has the AC/DC inspired groove of J.J Cale’s classic “Cocaine.”
Black Robot was created by JB shortly after his departure from Buckcherry during a time when JB found himself living in a storage unit. The “Black Robot” character started as a futuristic comic book hero. In the words of JB, “Our ebony-plated comic book hero is a metaphor for an uncertain future fixated on the unreal. He can’t help us until we help ourselves. The elixir is music, the secret to survival is located somewhere in the sacred shred that no man, beast, or “bot” can cast asunder!”.
Maximum Ink: When did you first know you wanted to be a musician?
Jonathan Brightman: My earliest influences were all the British invasion bands of the sixties and seventies. The Beatles, Stones, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, The Who, Kinks and Pink Floyd.
In 1980, I saw the AC/DC movie Let There Be Rock in the movie theater. It was a religious experience for me. The following day I bought my first used guitar at a swap meet.
MI: What was it like to go from living in a storage unit to finding the hope that comes with forming a new band?
JB: When you’re in a situation where things don’t go your way, you have the opportunity to take a lesson. The people that let you down become your teachers.
As a founding member of Buckcherry, I made all the sacrifices along the way to help bring the band from a local L.A. band to selling nearly a million records. After touring relentlessly for five years and two records, I found myself flat broke with all my belongings in storage while some of my band mates were buying homes and expensive guitars. Unfortunately, it’s a not too uncommon story. It took a few years for me to recover my passion for playing in a band again, but I didn’t want to waste the wisdom I gained from my last experience. I really feel this is the band that I’ve always dreamed of putting together. It feels great to be back.
MI: What led you to create the Black Robot character? Can you tell us a little more about that?
JB: I’ve held on to the concept of the Black Robot character for a long time. I shared the concept with Huck and he was really into it too. We worked hard with our artist to develop the character. The Black Robot character is a defender of strength and hope we use to symbolize this band and the music. As we develop as a band the character’s role will develop too. We’ve discussed the dream of bringing this character to life on our stages in the same way Iron Maiden uses their Eddie character.
MI: Are the other former members of Buckcherry excited as you are to be working on Black Robot?
JB: Absolutely. We had a lot of fun in the studio.
MI: What is like to work with such legendary artists as you have on this debut album?
JB: It was an unbelievable honor to work with everyone that came together on this record. It was great working with Fred Mandel. He played with Queen, Alice Cooper, Elton John and even recorded on Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
We kept on telling Fred, “dude….you played on the Wall!!!!” Fred has also joined us at a few of our gigs in Hollywood at the Roxy and the Viper Room.
MI: How would you describe the Black Robot sound and what can fans look forward to with the live show?
BR: We’re one of these bands that is not ashamed of our influences. With that said, I think we’ve crafted a sound that is unique to this band.
I like to think of our sound as a continuation of rock music from the point before grunge and alternative music came into play. (As if it never happened…ha!)
Fans can look forward to some serious ass kicking rock and roll at our live shows. There’s no replacement for ten thousand watts of live rock and roll pushing it to the limits. You just can’t download an experience like that for free!
MI: Are there any plans for a tour soon?
BR: Check back with us on our websites and twitter soon for announcements.
MI: What do you attribute your determination to never give up to most?
JB: There’s been a black hole in music for the past decade or so. Record labels have been really neglecting Rock and Roll music.
As cheesy as it may sound, I really believe in rock and roll music. It is historically significant in our American culture. It’s a direct descendant of poor sharecroppers that played the blues to lift their spirits from a hard life.
Right now a lot of people in this country are having a hard time. People need Rock and Roll.
MI: What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten in regards to the industry?
JB: Buckcherry opened for Aerosmith a long time ago. I met their bass player Tom Hamilton. He told me “remember, it’s all about the music.”
In other words, no matter what goes on in the industry, it still comes back to the music. And that’s where to keep your focus.
MI: Where can your fans go to stay up to date on your career?
JB: If things don’t go well with this record, they will probably be able to catch up with me on the unemployment line or welfare office. (Kidding!) blackrobotmusic.com , myspace.com/blackrobot , follow us on twitter.com @blackrobotmusic
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