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And None Of Them Knew They Were Robots - Interview

  by Alex Halls

published: 22 / 11 / 2002

And None Of Them Knew They Were Robots - Interview


One of Leeds' finest punk talents, And None of Them Knew They Were Robots have released two mini albums, their eponymous debut, and a second album, 'Liebestod'. The four piece talk to Alex Halls about their increasing popularity and both CDs

And None of Them Knew They Were Robots, commonly know as The Robots, are one of Leeds’ finest punk talents. They brim with verve and panache, and master each venue as if it is their own. Not only do they come across as excellent musicians. but they have to be awarded with the credit of being one of the most approachable bands around. The four-piece, Kevin McGonnell (Vocals / Guitar), Duncan Hall (Guitar), Sam Francis(Bass) and Stuart Dobbins (Drums) formed the Robots out of the ashes of several already accomplished bands. Their dedication to their music is incredible and is evident in everything they say. Speaking of their fondness for the underground music scene in a Pennyblackmusic interview that took place backstage at a Leeds gig in early November , the Robots described their thoughts about the present and the future in an intelligent and thought-provoking manner. They certainly had a lot more to say than this interviewer could extract in the course of just one interview: PB: How did you come across the name? Does it mean something in particular? SD: We wanted to have a name that had some kind of concept. It had to mean something more than just a random name pulled out of a hat. KM: It was also about not pinning the name to a genre. A lot of bands do this, where you read a name and think they are specifically playing a certain type of music. It also fits with all the pieces everyone had in their mind of a conceptual idea. Having finished a tour in August with another Leeds’ talent, This Ain’t Vegas, and with one member having contracted food poisoning along the way, the Robots reflected on their recent past. PB: What was the turnout like on the recent tour? DH: It was great everywhere we went. Even down South, in Exeter and other places, there were loads of people there, some of them even singing along to the songs. London was great too. We headlined that gig. SD: That was when King’s Cross got flooded. Nobody was able to get their tubes and, therefore, everybody stuck around. KM: It’s always expected to be hard down in London, but we’ve been pretty lucky. The two times we’ve been there it is as if the Londoners have adopted us. It was all in all an amazing experience… DH: … and just as you’re getting warmed up its time to go home. And None of Them Knew They Were Robots' self-titled debut mini album came out in May and was released on the band's own Pigdog label. Embraced by the music world, the album combines emo-style offerings with indie rock. The group followed this debut with a second mini album, ‘Liebestod', in September. It has been released on In At The Deep End Records, an independent label that promotes the underground punk and alternative scene, The Robots are content with what they have produced so far. PB: Kerrang described 'Idle Vessels' and 'Instrument'from the first album as never failing to move and provoke. What feelings underlie these songs? KM : Lyrically 'Idle Vessels' is a big thank-you note to parents and peers that are really important in your life and how you are shaped and formed as a human being. It’s all about being an empty vessel that is just waiting for these people to fill it with information. 'Instrument' is based on people knocking you down for no reason and the constant struggle to prove your worth even though you don’t have to. PB: Do you go through these emotions every time you play? SD : I don’t particularly know all the feelings behind the songs, but when I’m playing them I try to delve into the emotions. KM : Sometimes, lyrically, the emotions can take control. but at other times it’s more the music. and feeding off the emotions of everybody else. It’s only recently that I’ve begun to feed off the others and to go through the emotions at the same time, and that makes for an amazing gig. We all buzz when this happens. The music is the important thing… DH : … whereas the lyrics have some kind of sub-text. Musically The Robots are jointly responsible for what they write and, thus, there are very few songs in which not everybody has contributed to. Forming the music around a starting riff, the whole song is built upon this foundation. Sole emphasis, however, does not lie merely on that foundation. The song is the emphasis: end of story. PB: It can be seen from each of your songs that a commitment has been given towards developing a multi-layered sound. Is there any particular reason for this? DH : Looking at the guitars, there is a lead quality in both mine and Kev’s playing which doubtlessly helps. KM : It’s good when bands have two things going on and, when you listen to it as a whole, it fits together. Each member drives the band forward in his own particular way ,and that as a whole gives The Robots their sound. The band admits that ‘Liebestod’ was ‘not quite the thing that most bands would put out’ and was simply done ‘one hundred percent’ for themselves. The tracks are shorter, faster, and more furious than those on the debut album and present the band’s roots more than the band itself. In terming it a ‘sidestep’ it has, however, motivated the four-piece further, giving inspiration for new material and solidifying their sound, which will find its way onto a forthcoming new EP. PB: Do you get reward from the reaction to your music or do you get reward from just playing it? DH : You have to get it from both because you are always personally going to have bad gigs and bad reception. Any quality band has to do it for themselves, rather than engineer your sound to what people want to hear. PB: … that could make people famous… KM : We were having a conversation about this the other day with Mark Clayden from Pitchshifter. He was saying that he didn’t really have to engineer their sound too much, but I think that’s rare in a band. SD : It’s one of those things that comes around. You can be playing for ages, and then suddenly what you are doing is what people want to hear. No one starts a band just to play what people want to hear. No rock bands anyway. DH : At the same time gigs are a good opportunity to work out which bits of a song work and which bits don’t. You can use the crowd as feedback to aid the creative process. The Robots appeared to be in their element and were amazingly relaxed before the evening’s gig where everything they had talked about came to light. Impressive stage presence and a sound that carries with it a sense of emotional dignity, whilst making the crowd just want to rock, gave the band further credit for what promises to be a fruitful and exciting future.

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