Robthebank celebrates comeback with first LP
By Tim Anderl
When Dayton City Paper last caught up with Robthebank, a once-prominent fixture in the Gem City’s underground 90s-era music scene, the band had resurrected itself in 2011 from a decade-plus-long coma that threatened to leave the act inked onto the pages of Dayton’s music lore. Proving that their resuscitation is a legitimate second life, the quartet recently completed their debut full-length LP Spoken Codes for Dayton’s Rad Girlfriend Records and intend to celebrate the record with a blow-out release party at Blue Byrd Tattoos on Saturday, Oct. 27.
Dayton City Paper caught up with Robthebank drummer Craigo Nichols, where he discussed their forthcoming LP, the magic of local producer Darryl “Derl” Robbins, their legacy and where they’re headed. Here’s what he had to say.
I seem to recall seeing Robthebank play several times in the 90s and then didn’t hear from you for a while. Was there a dust-up that caused the band to call it quits on the first go around or was it simply the fact that Nate Farley went to play with Guided By Voices?
No dust up. Nate got the opportunity to travel the world with GBV and took it.
To say that you guys are music veterans seems to be an understatement. What is it about participating in this culture that keeps you interested?
It’s still fun. We love to get on stage and do it. The day it no longer becomes fun, I’ll realize my age and become an old curmudgeon.
What is it about the chemistry between you guys that continues to make it worthwhile?
We have all been playing together for over 20 years – except for Heather Newkirk, who I think we’ve been playing with for about 15. Not just in this band, but many others. There are at least five or six bands that we have all played in together just between the four of us. The chemistry is great and our new music feels fresh. When we are writing, it generally comes pretty easy because we can anticipate each other’s next move and it just falls into place.
Spoken Codes isn’t the first RTB LP, is it?
We recorded for a first RTB release, but it never came out because that was when Nate joined GBV. We still play some of those songs and they reappear on this release.
Who is the principal songwriter for RTB? Is there even one or is it completely collaborative?
Nate is the principal writer for RTB. We all write, so some songs we hammer out together. Nate will generally have a couple of parts and we play them together, feel ‘em out, add our touches, figure out the numbers and … voila.
Did Darryl Robbins record the LP? What did he bring to the table that made him a good fit for this project?
Yes he did! Derl is a wizard! We have all been friends with Derl for many years. He knows how we sound and he knows exactly how we want the record to sound. D is like a fifth member of the band. We set up and did everything live, including the vocals, mostly all in one weekend. He started mixing and we didn’t fuck with him too much because he was nailing it. We are really proud of the record. Thanks Derl!
Which of the songs on the LP are you happiest with creatively and why?
That’s a tough one … I think I’m leaning towards “Night Vision” a little. Nate and Heather’s chorus together when they are saying different things, but end on the same word to bring it back together, is sick. Then there’s the choppy part during the verses that just screams Dayton to me.
All of the songs on the album are different enough that I’d never be able to nail down one, two or twelve influences to attach to this. I do, however, hear growing up in the 70s and 80s, skateboarding, going to punk shows … that kind of thing. What really influences the band’s sound and songwriting?
Don’t forget drugs! Yeah I think you got it. It’s just our love of punk rock and underground music. There seems to be a lack of it these days. A lot of the best new music is coming from older musicians, like Thee Oh Sees, OFF! and Classics of Love.
Rad Girlfriend will be releasing your forthcoming album, correct? Did you approach them about helping with the record or did they find you?
We approached them. I’ve been friends with Josh [Goldman] and Brandi [Smith] from Rad Girlfriend for a while now so it didn’t take much arm twisting.
How difficult has it been to write and rehearse material with many of you living in different cities?
It’s been kinda tricky. We have been practicing in Dayton because it’s a central location between Columbus and Cincinnati. It’s definitely slowed our writing process, but we had practice last night, wrote two new songs and figured out a cover song for the Halloween release party.
A tattoo shop is an unusual choice of venue for a record release show. How did you settle on that?
We all like the party vibe, like basement shows, rental halls, etc., over the bar scene. It’s a little more loosey goosey. Things get a little wilder and that tends to be more fun. We played there once before with Motel Beds earlier this year and that show was a barnburner, so hopefully we can recapture a little of that magic.
Robthebank’s record release show is a costume party on Saturday, Oct. 27, at Blue Byrd Tattoo, 1231 Wayne Ave. Admission is $3 for those in costume, and $5 for those without. Motel Beds will also perform. For more information visit facebook.com/RTB2011.
Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@daytoncitypaper.com