Buzznet Exclusive Interview with Geek Rockers Robots and Racecars
What happens when four guys from Philly decide that, hey, there’s no reason you CAN’T start a band and write songs about video games and comics and Doctor Who?
Robots and Racecars happens.Photo by Georgi Anastasov Photography
The foursome from Philadelphia just released their new album Rage Quit (the title references a video game phenonmenon where a player becomes so frustrated or angry at a game that they quit, in a rage, often lead to the distruction of a controller) and once again they manage to mix pop-punky sounds with pop culture references. I was able to get them to answer a few questions for Buzznet about wibbly wobbly music-wusic stuff.
BUZZNET: First off, how did Rage Quit come together as an album? Basically, what’s the secretorigin of Rage Quit? If there isn’t one, please make one up for us.
Matthew (guitars, vocals): We have been working on this music for about a year, songs here and there. 4 of which were originally part of a huge concept album about Zombies, Human Nature, and building Giant Robots to solve our problems, but that idea as a whole never really panned out…money was an issue, stretching the concept to fill a full album was an issue, so weabandoned the idea and opted to do it as a mini concept within a larger piece of work…this turned out to be “Rage Quit”. You get the drama and feeling of the concept as awhole, with some fun songs in between
Jordan (lead guitar): well we drank gummyberry juice and picked up some instruments… it’s kinda nostalgic looking back on it.
Frankie (drums, vocals): Rage Quit came together over a lot of time, member changes, and us finally embracing who we are. That is nerds in the long and short of it. We were almost tired of masking it through clever metaphors and just came out swinging.
Nicholas (bass, vocals): I had this CRAZY scheme to get us money which involved the federal government, an abandoned zoo, a couple geneticists, and a whole mess of amber, but SOMEONE (Matthew) shot it down because it “went against the laws of nature” or some other crap. I mean, really, who DOESN’T want giant sloths and sabretooth tigers wandering around next to velociraptors and pachycephalosauruses? EVERYBODY wants that. But NOW, we had to go with Kickstarter and all our wonderful fans helpingto fund it.
Also: I may or may not have some dinosaurs I want to sell. If anyone out there is interested, just give me a holler at 1 800 DINO NOW.
BUZZNET: What kind of nerd topics do you cover on the new album? I’m guessing with the title“Rage Quit” video games play into at least some of it?
M: Correct, Video games do come into play here with the song “Press Start to Continue,” butit’s a little deeper than that, The song (Press Start) goes through key points in the gameMario, but it’s more about not giving up, and pushing forward to meet your goal. TheAlbum as a whole is more about human emotional responses to different circumstancespresented. For example “The High Water Mark” on the surface is about a space shipcrashing into the sun…but underneath it’s about the feelings the passengers have whilethis is going on…other topics in the album are Time Travel, Cryogenics, and of courseZombie invasions. To me the entire album is about how people handle things they don’tunderstand…like in a game when you are getting frustrated, and you throw yourcontroller.
J: basically video games and dr. who (which i can’t get behind) and time travel. fun stuff really is all it comes down to.
F: We cover Mario Bros, Doctor Who, Back to the Future, and of course a zombie robotapocolypse.
N: Video games play some part of it, yes. There’s an underlying theme of a zombie/robot apocalypse that plays out throughout the album, and there’s a couple other songs about some random things we love, like time travel, space ships, Back to the Future, Super Mario, cryogenic freezing, and Doctor Who. I see the opening track, “It’s Dangerous To Go Alone! Take This.” as being a statement of purpose for the rest of the album: everyone telling us “you’ve got to let this stuff go, it’s not worth it” and us saying “we won’t, and we’re not the only ones.”
BUZZNET: Have there been any topics you’ve wanted to do songs about but just haven’t been able to make it come together? Is there anything you think would be “too nerdy” to do a songabout?
M: I had that thought when we were writing “1.21 Jigga WHAT!” I remember writing theverses and crossing stuff out, saying to myself “That’s WAY too obvious” as far as stuffthat we haven’t done because of this…there hasn’t been a lot, I’d like to do a song aboutIsaac Asimov’s 3 laws of Robotics from the perspective of the Robot itself, as if it hademotions to an event that made the Robot break these rules.
J: speaking for myself im not as nerdy as the others… also i dont write lyrics but when i have an opinion on the subject ill say something
F: I don’t think personally anything is too nerdy. I have had lyrics poking fun at the Englishlanguage a bit but I haven’t used them because they just haven’t fit, not for the fact that it istoo “nerdy”
N: I’ve been trying for a year or two to write a song about quantum physics and the anthropic principle. But I guess the universe is existing without it. We’ve had a song we’ve worked on but not finished entirely that is specifically about Astrid, the Kylie Minogue character from the Doctor Who episode “Voyage of the Damned.” That uh…. that’ll show up somewhere eventually.
BUZZNET: I feel like I’m using the word “nerd” too much, let’s try something else: what do you think of the current idea of geek culture being cool, ie “geek chic,” or “MTV Geek?”
M: Individually I’m torn, Don’t get me wrong, it’s great when kids get our references and think shows like Doctor Who are awesome, but at the same time…growing up comics and superheroes, Star Wars, and Magic The Gathering Cards, were our thing. No one understood like we did, and I think it takes away from it just a little bit. But overall I think it’s a good thing; there is a lot of interesting things people missed out on back then because it wasn’t cool to like it. It’s more about being yourself now, liking what you like, and not feeling ashamed for liking
J: people are kinda stupid IMO. honestly lets just be what we want to be…nerd, geek, jock, prep, whatever it is we’re human and stop judging people so much. like what you like. stop trying to be “cool” or whatever it is now adays
N: I’m of two minds on it, in that it’s great that a lot of things we like are in the large area of pop culture, like the Game of Thrones series on HBO, or Chris Nolan’s Batman films, or even the growing popularity of Doctor Who. The other side of that, though, is the dilution of what exactly the term “geek” is applied to, and what it means versus the culture at large. I’m having a bit of a crisis in my brain about nostalgia and the recycling of culture that we all seem to be taking part in, and which I think will eventually render our culture stagnant and obsolete. Then again, Batman is AWESOME.
BUZZNET: What on this album sets it apart from your previous releases? How do you feel you’ve grown musically or as a band?
M: We are working together a lot better now…we don’t fight about the music so muchanymore and we all just want it to sound awesome. We are less divided, no more “this isFrankie’s song, or this is Matthew’s song” it’s more of, “These are OUR songs…anddamn it we like them”. This album is also a lot heavier than our previous releases…weare exploring different ways to get a feeling from our audience with more than just thelyrics. 4 chords and a time change worked back then, but it just doesn’t fly anymore.
J: well me personally? i feel ive grown bc of my hiatus from the band but when rejoining it opened a new door for me which ill never regret. musically we’ve all matured and are writing better and performing better than we every have. what sets us apart.. well we played out of my amp (orange tiny terror) rather than a POD on earlier recordings. also a different studio helped. we got more creative rather then just doing the same routine. kinda pushing ourselves to are fullest potential
F: We have grown as a band by not really caring what everyone else was doing. I think that when we finally stopped caring what every other band was doing and just did our own thing that the songs really started coming together. At first it was the fact that we were sticking to our pop punk roots and not going with the metal esque style, using yeah and lets gos instead of muddy break downs. Now it’s the fact that we are sticking to us being nerds. Star Wars, Jurassic Park, comic books and toys. We are basically kids that never want to grow up.
N: I think this is definitely the most musically accomplished album we’ve done yet. The production is top notch, and I feel like our songwriting is dramatically improved. I mean, we managed to make a somewhat coherent narrative through 4 different songs that makes sense, and still have the songs be independent. I think that’s pretty impressive.
BUZZNET: What has been your best/worst/most memorable rage quit moment? Have you everactually managed to break a controller (or worse) in frustration?
M: My “Rage Quits” are usually quite tame, yelling an expletive and walking away…theymostly happen when Jordan is destroying me in Call of Duty…I’ve rage quitted justabout every game I’ve played since I started playing console games. Mega Man 3 wasperhaps the worst though; I quit that game like 9 times a weekend and am still yet to beatit.
J: i quit the band (haha) mainly when me and matthew play call of duty and he beats me on firing range.
F: I had a rage quit moment that ws pretty epic. It wasn’t while playing a video game(Although I have been known to break a controller). It was a couple of years ago I wasdating this girl who hated the fact that I was in a band. So one time we were arguing aboutthe band like usually, and I just snapped. I took my sticks and slammed them throughevery one of my drum heads, put my foot through my kick drum and bent all of mycymbals. So that might be my biggest rage quit moment. Haha. I quit that relationship, theband(without officially telling them) and then realized I was an asshole and didn’t quit theband.
N: I have yet to break any controllers, though I did accidentally hit my dog with Rock Band drumsticks after throwing them in frustration because the game kept goddamn cheating I mean SERIOUSLY Neil Peart what the hell were you thinking? “The Trees” is rigoddamndiculously hard.
I also freaked the f*ck out on my friend when we were playing Goldeneye back in the day and he kept being a cheapshotting bastard who used a glitch in the game to place proximity mines on ammo caches. Everytime the ammo respawned, it’d have a mine on it. That bastard.
BUZZNET: Last question: You wake up tomorrow to a zombie apocalypse. Please tell us one of the following: a) how you survive said apocalypse, b) how you are brutally taken down by azombie horde or c) how played out zombies are and what should replace them in popculture.
M: B) I’m done in like 2 hours…depending on how large the horde is. I’m out of shape,uncoordinated; I’ve never fired a gun, and I can’t run very fast. I’m clumsy, I stress outWAY too fast, and I second guess decisions I make. Honestly, after thinking about it,giving me 2 hours is a bit generous.
J: a) machete and beer that’s all
F: What should replace zombies in my opinion? Well. . .us! We are pretty fucking cool. Lol.
Actually the though of a zombie apocolypse kinda scares the shit out of me so Idon’t know. Maybe Ash from houswares could give me a few tips.
N: I would sell out all my friends and family to the zombie horde in a heartbeat and live in a camper in the middle of Landenberg PA with my girlfriend, my dog, and some rabbits. Screw civilization!
That said, I’d like to see more general “SCIENCE!” movies. Enough with the vampires, give me mad scientists. Especially if they’re played by David Bowie. TESLA 4 LYFE.
Rage Quit is available NOW through iTunes. Still not sure if you’re into giving them money? Then check them out on Facebook. And hey, if you’re in the Philly area you could always go see them on October 28th!