JBOT is Captured! By Robots. JBOT, the moniker of Jason Vance, created robots to accompany him after struggling to find musicians who weren’t addicted to drugs, consumed with egos, or otherwise “damaged.” Rarely leaving script, after Jason was captured, the robots placed a chip in his brain transforming him into JBOT. Having created six robots to “back” his performances, his shows have become a popular spectacle of antics and fun. At a pit stop for sandwiches while returning from Los Angeles, JBOT spoke to SFCritic during a phone interview.
SFCritic(SFC): So how come you don’t play in New York or LA?
JBOT (J): The attitude now is too cool for school. I just have had bad experiences playing in LA and New York. To get any kind of attention you have to sell your soul. It’s just not worth it.
SFC: Right. You already sold your soul to robots, isn’t that correct?
J: When I was a kid I had an Erector Set, Legos and all sort of crazy stuff like that. The first robot I built was a guitar player because I couldn’t find one that wasn’t disturbed or didn’t have an ego the size of California.
SFC: So did music or robots come first?
J: Oh music. I’ve been playing music since I was a kid. Started with trombone then I moved to bass, guitar, drums. Robots were just a means to an end.
SFC: Would you say the robots are a metaphor for other parts of your life or society?
J: In a way they were created out of a need because I couldn’t get along with people in bands. Maybe it symbolizes my utter failure in dealing with people and collaborating with damaged people. Maybe it symbolizes as society we are becoming more internal. How do you collaborate with a person?
SFC: Did you find yourself after starting Capture! By Robots becoming more independent in other ways?
J: Yeah. The biggest problem I had on the road was my roadies. So now, I just tour by myself. They stole from me, got high all the time and stole drugs from my friend’s medicine cabinet. I mean, who needs that. Damaged people, damaged people.
SFC: Have you rid yourself of damaged people now, or do you still encounter them?
J: Most of the people I deal with these days are pretty solid. As soon as I find out they’re messed, I just rid myself of them because I don’t want anything to do with that anymore. The problem with a bad machine is it’s just a bad machine. Of course I’m damaged in certain ways.
SFC: What happened in past situations with band mates that made you see them as damaged?
J: My band mates would be high on meth for three days at a time. Before they would start coming down, they would go from good friends to mortal enemies out of their freaking mind. My old guitar player was methed out all the time, and I was great friends with her. Years and years we were just two peas in a pod. She got on that meth and just changed. She’s dead now. She died of a heroin overdose. It’s just disgusting what people do if they’re damaged.
SFC: Do you think you’ve been saved by being captured by robots?
J: I think it was in a matter of speaking being saved. I disliked people a lot. I disliked extreme, extreme large amounts. By playing with the band I have found a love for people. People have been so kind to me while I’m on the road by putting me up or I’ve become friends with promoters who will do these shows that are incredible people.
The relationship with the robots used to be incredibly adversarial, but it’s definitely changed over the years. Now, people really enjoy them ripping on me now, but I think they still have love for me in a certain way. I mean I do hall their ass around everywhere. It’s definitely not as vicious as it was before.
SFC: What do you think is the change?
J: I think it’s time. As time went on, they saw how much I sweat, and worked hard and everything I’d done for these robots. This is my entire life now. I don’t have another job. This is everything.
SFC: Who is the “they” that you’re talking about? Are they the robots or the fans?
J: My robots.
SFC: You’ve been playing long enough now with the robots that I’d imagine the questions about the robots might get old–has it? Do you wonder when people are going to start asking more about your music?
J: If it weren’t for the robots no one would give a shit about my music. If it weren’t for the robots no one would come see me play…I would put us up against any other band for entertainment, fun, and rock and roll, whatever as far a live act I don’t think many bands can compete with us.
Captured! By Robots performs at The Bottom of the Hill on December 12th. Tickets are $12. Doors open at 8:30pm and the show starts at 10pm.
Reprinted from interview for SF Station.