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ASH IS A ROBOT: exclusive song premiere & interview!

ASH IS A ROBOT is a funny named DIY post hardcore band from Setúbal, Portugal :) After touring extensively in their home country and Spain, they are about to hit both countries and more European roads this Fall and early next year. Their first studio album encloses a mixture of modern post-hardcore in the vein of AT THE DRIVE-IN, LA DISPUTE and REFUSED and classic rock and roll like KING CRIMSON, favoring rock riffs over metal. The record combines different influences, styles and tastes, so I bet a lot of you guys will simply love it!

I’m very pleased to present you an exclusive stream of ASH IS A ROBOT‘s new song called “Philophobia part II”, as well as my interview with the band, which gives you some insight into their world and approach to making music.

Hey guys! Thanks so much for reaching out. What’s up? Please introduce yourself to the readers and let’s start off! :)

Hi there guys!!! We are ASH IS A ROBOT a Portuguese post-hardcore band, formed in  Setúbal, Portugal in 2012. It was founded by Renato Sousa, Francisco Caetano, Gonçalo Santos, Cláudio Aníbal and Bernardo Pacheco Pereira. Everything just clicked and happened very fast. After touring extensively in our home country as well as Spain, our band, which includes members from several known Portuguese underground acts, wants to take the energetic and diverse sound to a broader audience.

Cool. Thanks! Setúbal is located very close to Lisbon, right? Does it mean its music scene is treated offhandedly in a way?

Yes, Setúbal is Lisbon’s neighbor, 40 kilometers between them. Well we can’t complain, the times we played Lisbon we were very well received by the audience, and felt like home. These days there is no “city” music scene in Portugal. What I mean by that is that regardless of what city you come from, if people identify with your band and like your music they will attend your shows. It’s not a question of “where you’re from” anymore, but of “who you are”.

Yup, and it seems you’re quite busy gentlemen, aren’t you? You’ve just released a video for the track “Philophobia Part. I”. Tell me more about this picture, the concept behind it, and the guy lying on the dirt.

We currently got gigs until December every weekend and some at week for the album presentation!

The guy lying in the dirty is our lead singer Claudio! Well the video for “philophobia part I” is about a guy that tries to find out what happened and how he got there, lying on the dirt. The thing that happens is that he doesn’t find anything but starts to remember has he walks to the different places. We wanted the video to seem like a loop, everything can be put together, repeat itself and make sense.

What symbolises this video?

There’s not a specific meaning, we just played with the idea of having two singers since this song is a collaboration with our friend Dado. The video depicts a negative tension within the band, which we end up solving by getting a new singer, beating Cláudio unconscious and leaving him to die by the side of the road. But he ends up coming back anyway.

Haha, cool :) You’ve been releasing cool audio-visual stuff for some time now. There’s “Karma Never Sleeps” video, tour teasers, etc. Who in the band has talents in the video-making area?

None of us do. But we have some really talented close friends who work with us, like Dado (who shot and edited the Karma Never Sleeps video and some of our teasers) and Pedro Semedo and Mário Guilherme from GARAGEM (who directed, shot and edited the videos for Philophobia and Ariadne).

Nice. How important is that areola for a band? Do you get any advantage from this promotion?

It’s really important to have that visual element to a band when you’re starting out. Everyone is so used to watching videos on YouTube, it’s getting harder to get noticed only with audio recordings. People want to put a face on the music they listen to, so we need to indulge them a little with music videos. Luckily, it’s fun to shoot them and we know the right people to make it happen.

Right. You stated that your new record has no borders, where each track combines different influences, styles and tastes. What do you need to record such an album?

Well, first of all you need to have all of those different influences, styles and tastes. You need to get some creative momentum going, which requires the right group of people and the right attitude. But most of all you need to really understand the meaning of identity and what it means to have your own way of doing things, I guess. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to to write a groundbreaking, genre-defining record, but at least it’s going to sound more interesting than the average bands out there.

How do you do it?

We write a lot in our rehearsals, we always have 2 or 3 ongoing songs which we try to improve day after day until we’re happy with them. Most of the time Renato and Francisco bring their ideas from home and then we jam them and make them as interesting as possible. We start recording and demoing the ideas very early on, so we can sit down and listen to them while they’re still fresh. I guess what really drives us is writing music we want to listen to.

How were the recording sessions? Did you get along okay with each other and other people involved in the process?

Sure! We were really excited about what we were doing, and we had a good sense of who was driving and what was everyone’s role. It helps that we’re all good friends and that we’ve known each other for some years now. It’s not easy to be patient all the time when you’re recording music, but I think we did good.

Who’s putting it out? What labels are you working with? Tell us more about them.

We’re putting the record out through Sons Urbanos and Raging Planet. They’re two strong underground labels in Portugal and both of them get what we are doing and where our music needs to go. It’s great that we got their attention so early on, we’re happy to have found a home for our first record.

After touring extensively in Portugal and Spain, you’re going to have a massive tour there, with plans to extend it to some other countries. Tell me more about those earlier treks. How many gigs have you played so far and how were they? Any interesting stories you’d like to share?

We played over 40 shows. We’re hitting Spain for the second time right now, and we also played in Budapest which was unforgettable. Not bad for our first year, but we just want it to keep getting better. We had a lot of fun playing these shows, almost all of them were good and we had a lot of awesome surprises in smaller cities or towns. I guess it’s always an interesting story when the venue gives us infinite free booze. We’re all very serious and dedicated when it comes to playing live, but give us free beer and see what happens after the show. We take no prisoners.

What about the upcoming shows? Shoot me some details on that.

We’re booking a lot of shows in Spain for the next months. There’s a lot of ground to cover there, and other countries are way too far and therefore kind of impractical for playing a one-off show. That’s why we need to think about a 2-3 week tour if we want to reach other countries. We’re already working on the rest of the continent, I guess we’ll have some news soon enough.

How did Poland end up on your touring wish list you published some time ago on Facebook?

Why shouldn’t it be there? Some friends told us we just had to play there and we believed them. From what we know it’s a beautiful country, I hope we can go there really soon and make some memories.

Yeah man! Drop by, you’re gonna have a good time here :)

Ok, so what’s the ultimate goal for this band? Any motto you’d like to share with us? :)

Oh, y’know, the usual. We want to make a living of this, tour the world, connect with people. I don’t think there are any specific goals as long as we can do what we like and have people listening to it.

Thanks for your time! Anything else you’d like to add? Best of luck guys!

You’re welcome, it was a pleasure! Uhm, check out our music, support the bands you like, brush your teeth, don’t drink and drive, treat your mother right, don’t eat red meat, get off of Facebook and live a little. Thanks for reading, thanks for the interview! Bye!

Black and white band photo by Nuno Pires.
Top band photo by Tiago Pereira.
Crazy live photo by Manuel Casanova Photography.

ASH IS A ROBOT Facebook
ASH IS A ROBOT Soundcloud
ASH IS A ROBOT Bandcamp
ASH IS A ROBOT Twitter
ASH IS A ROBOT YouTube
ashisarobot@gmail.com

Photo by Blanca Olivella.

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