An interview with Crobot guitarist Chris Bishop
by Tommy Rage
December 2019

Crobot - photo by Stesha Whitney

photo by Stesha Whitney

When you’re only five years into your professional music career, you aren’t supposed to blow audiences away with your jaw dropping live performances. You aren’t supposed to perfect a two-hour live show, led by a charismatic front man, Brandon Yeagley, a brilliant guitarist Chris Bishop and an extraordinary drummer, Dan Ryan. Crobot, however, has done exactly that. With the release of their 2019 album Motherbrain, Crobot returns to Wisconsin on December 6th, at the Back Bar in Janesville.

Beginning in 2011, Brandon Yeagley (vocals, harmonica) along with Chris Bishop (guitars), created Crobot and added drummer Dan Ryan in 2017. Releasing Something Supernatural (2014) and Welcome to Fat City (2016), the band toured extensively before finding a natural fit with fill-in bassists James Lascu and Eddie Collins. Longtime friend and well-known record producer Corey Lowery (Seether, Sevendust) helped the band create their fourth and most successful album to date. Released in August 2019, Motherbrain is some of the band’s darkest, yet most rich and full sounding songs to date. Guitarist Chris Bishop talks about what the band’s mind-set was for putting Motherbrain together. “Going into it, we knew we wanted to step our game up, as far as song-medley, hooks and stuff like that. We wanted to retain the big guitar riffs that is Crobot, and the heavy groove stuff. That will all always be in our music. We created spaces for Brandon to sing memorable hooks and to sing about things that aren’t just lizards and dragons all the time [laughter]. Nothing wrong with that, as a lot of our previous stuff was fantasy based. But we wrote songs that were a little more relatable. We simplified a few things and made it a little more palatable. It’s just more of a modern rock record.”

Kicking off Motherbrain with two sharp and aggressive tracks, “Keep Me Down”, and “Burn”, the band’s sound jumps into your ear buds with layers from all the talented band members. Dan’s drums along with the undeniable power vocals from Brandon combine perfectly with Chris’s guitars. “When we write songs, even if it’s a jam, I’m the guy that usually takes it home – gritting it out on the computer, putting drums on it, and demo it out. Then I’ll develop the guitar stuff. We are an old-school type of band that focuses on big guitar riffs and big rock vocals. Me and Brandon like to have those elements in Crobot songs, and I’ll always try to put our stamp on it.”

The aspects of the live performances coupled with the hit single, “Low Life”, has brought Crobot to the forefront of stage shows and radio requests. With its catchy hooks, foot-tapping bass lines and self-deprecating tale of suffering, Chris shares the story behind “Low Life.” “That song was one of the last songs we wrote before we recorded the record. It was put together by Ron Burman, who then put us with Johnny Andrews and he really wanted us to do it. So we went down to Atlanta and did the song with Johnny and it was a tongue-n-cheek song. We thought it was a silly and catchy song and almost undeniable that it was so much fun.”

High energy and exuberance have been the trademark from the very beginning for Crobot, even for their short career thus far. Since their beginning, the quartet has a history and affection for Madison. Playing Taste of Madison in 2019 to a packed downtown crowd, Chris certainly appreciates the support Madison has shown Crobot. “Any chance we can come play the area we are super excited, those are great shows, and our drummer Dan is originally from Madison. Since we started the band, we just try to have fun, that’s the most important thing; and people can tell if it’s authentic. So, that’s number one, have fun. We don’t choreograph anything. Sometimes during the set, Brandon will jump on my shoulders, but we don’t have it choreographed. That takes away the fun of it, it’s all off-the-cuff; fresh. There is always the chance that something will go wrong. That’s what keeps it exciting. There have been times when Brandon jumps on my back and I wasn’t ready or he over-shot, or I jump off my amp, and we fall [laughter]. That’s what makes the show real and awesome. Sometimes it’s worth it to jump in the crowd for the guitar solo; those are memories that we all have.”   

Fan loyalty, a great new album, a brilliant new single, and a high energy show. You would think that Crobot wouldn’t have anything else to give Madison fans. Yet, they continue to give by sharing their affection for both their fans and giving back to animals in need. Chris shares how the band is helping animal shelters of Southern Wisconsin. “We are all animal lovers in the band. Year of the dog is from our song “Alpha Dog”, we defiantly thought that since it’s the holidays that we wanted to do something. I made these posters that we were going to sell, but we decided to sign them and give them away if people give dog food or animal food that we will donate to local animal shelters. I have a rescue Grey Hound, and she is looking at me now with those big belle eyes.”

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CD: Motherbrain Record Label: Mascot Label Group
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