Artist of the Week: Urban Cowboys (and Girl) El Diablo Robotico, With Q&A
Merry Christmas, Robot Devil. You just proved your muscle in one of our most heated Artist of the Week competitions to date!
Brooklyn’s country/noise band El Diablo Robotico screeched in for a tight win just as their home base was being slammed by one of the worst winter storms in decades. Looks like the snow helped them out by keeping their fans indoors and close to computers.
In the home stretch of this week’s race, Robotico and Mexican cumbia band Sonido San Francisco were neck and neck until an end made bitter by SSF fans’ accusations of bot voting. Then again, if there’s a band anyone can accuse of being in cahoots with evil voting robots, wouldn’t it be El Diablo Robotico?
Despite being a convenient culprit, Robotico’s followers were the real reason the band prevailed. Somewhere in the world, robot cowboys and noise demons are having a party, and they’re bumping El Diablo Robotico’s first EP mighty loud.
So now the fun part. We get to delve into the mind behind El Diablo Robotico, picking apart the sound, the image, and their thoughts on Russian proto-Socialist Futurism. Bet you didn’t think old timey country rock could get so academic.
The name. Is it a Buffy the Vampire Slayer reference, or are you guys just into futuristic satanism?
The name is technically an Angel reference which was a Buffy spin-off but yeah, its a BuffyVerse reference. I’m a pretty huge fan of Joss Whedon so I proposed the name and (I think?) everyone else in the band has come around to it! If we have to be associated with any futurism, I’d prefer Russian proto-socialist futurism to Italian proto-fascist futurism or any kind of Satanic futurism.
So, you guys just received an absolutely ridiculous amount of votes. How much do you love your fans? Or is this the work of the robot devil?
We love our fans! And our friends and family who really pulled through for us on this one. I think my father had half of India voting by the end there.
Sounds like you and Sebastian from Sonido San Francisco had to do some damage control after the comment war on this competition. Did you make friends? Supergroup?
Sebastian seems like a great guy and we just became friends on Facebook! Things definitely got a lot more heated in this competition than I expected even given The Greater Internet F***wad Theory, Godwin’s Law and all that. I mean hey, at least no one got compared to Hitler. That’s something. But seriously they (SSF) sound awesome as do the other bands/artists we were competing with. It was cool to be on such a rocking list.
Your music has a country vibe, and yet the lyrics are about life in the city. What inspired the juxtaposition?
I think one of the more interesting aspects of country music is a certain focus on geography, perhaps even with a kind of idealization or real-time nostalgia for that geography. So for 5 people living in Brooklyn it seems much more true to the tradition of country song writing to be writing about our lives and places than, say, the Mississippi delta or the mining towns of West Virginia. I mean we have moments where we indulge in the occasional rural country reference – to be fair our violinist is from South Carolina! But mostly, we love the music but want to do our own version of it which includes a tremendous amount of influence both musically and lyrically from New York City.
You guys have a diverse line up, ethnically and musically. Can you give us a few words about each member of the band?
I feel that, in classic country tradition, we do a great job of representing America! We’re about 60% White and 40% Other. But especially musically and regionally, everyone brings a lot of different talents and traditions to the table. I was educated from childhood on as classically and jazz trained trumpet player. Forrest had similar training but also studied musical theater and comes from more of a soul and jazz tradition. Jason is trained and proficient and awesome in just about every style imaginable and was already an accomplished touring musician before joining up with us. Both Jason and Forrest are also contributing a good number of our newer songs. John on the other hand is entirely self-taught but is passionate about music and art (he’s a studio photographer) and we met through mutual friends and mutual love of both country and improvisational music. Our newest member David, like Jason, Forrest and myself, comes from a trained musical background and is also an accomplished touring musician. He has really been able to add a lot already in terms of both our straight ahead and slightly more experimental moments.
As far as you know, are most of your fans country folk or city slickers?
While we have pockets of fans all over the country and elsewhere (seriously, when last I checked there were like 70 countries represented on our facebook fan list) most of our fans are definitely city slickers right here in Brooklyn, NY.
What can we expect from El Diablo Robotico in the new year?
We’re really excited to be starting a residency at Brooklyn’s Sugar Lounge on January 21st and hope people can make it out to that show and our subsequent shows there. Additionally we plan on recording our second record, most likely a full length, and really going all out on it. Our last record started as basement demos that were mixed well enough to become an EP but this time, expect a lot of full on studio craziness from us. We have also had a lot of fun and success setting up nights with bands that we love and are friends with from both the NYC scene and all over the place so expect to see more of those too. Anything to avoid the truly hellish 5 random bands a night NYC showcase!
Check out El Diablo Robotico’s “Idiot in a Tower”