Interview: The Bots [October 2014]

By Lais

The Bots, a band who are made up of two siblings, Anaiah and Mikaiah Lei, are about to drop their debut full-length album ‘Pink Palms’ on Monday. It’s an exciting time for the Californian duo, but even more so for everyone who is yet to hear the album. We had a chat with the brothers to find out how they’re feeling about releasing the record, how it felt to work with some big names, and what else they’ve got to look forward to after an already massive year.

You’ve been around for a little while now, but for people who aren’t aware of you yet, how, when and why did you decide to form a band? Tell us a bit about your background.

Anaiah: We started off around late 2007. By the time I joined the band was already an item. Mikaiah of course asked if I wanted to join, as there wasn’t really anyone in our neighbourhood who played the drums, plus I wasn’t gonna say no to the idea of being in a band.
Mikaiah: Well we started the band in high school as a garage rock band like most kids do at that age. We played lofi acoustic music like The Moldy Peaches did. Later we lost most of the members and it was just Anaiah and myself. I picked up a guitar and started singing lead vocals and seven something years later here we are.

You’re obviously siblings. How does it feel to be in a band with a family member? Do you think you have a stronger bond than most bands because of the familial link?

A: Believe it or not, some people don’t think we’re siblings. We played in Montreal last night and a couple had asked if we were. Jokingly we said we weren’t and they went on saying we didn’t look alike. But it’s great, I know Mikaiah pretty well on and off stage and I know when he’ll mess up as well [laughs]. We’re in tune with each other and that is definitely a benefit to the band.
M: It’s funny because a lot of people don’t think we are brothers but I love it. I think being in a band with my little brother couldn’t be easier. We both get each other and making music with him is extremely fun and comes very easily. I trust him and I love him with all my heart.

How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard you before? What are your influences as a band?

A: I’d describe it as just rock music. We play a wide variety of rock and roll: you’d be able to hear a little bit of indie, experimental, punk, folk, doom etc. We just enjoy playing what we feel like playing, as simple as that!
M: It’s rock music, it’s guitar and drums for most of the songs. It’s fun: loads of good energy, dancy, punky, bluesy, folk, indie, pop, experimental. If you wanna try labelling it, it’s something of alternative rock. The live shows are the only way to experience the band at its finest.

Your debut full-length album, ‘Pink Palms’, comes out next week. How does it feel? And what can people expect from it?

A: It feels pretty darn amazing! I’ve been anticipating the release of this album for some time now. It’ll definitely have a little bit of everything for everyone. Kind of like how I said in the last question, we really got experimental with this record. And of course thanks to the help of Justin Warfield and Nick Zinner, both who produced the record with us!
M: It feels great having our album about to drop. We have worked really hard on it and we hope people like it as much as we do. It’s got something in there for everyone, from all ages as young as a little baby to an old man or woman.

You worked with some impressive people on it – Blur’s Damon Albarn, Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs etc. Were these people you’d always wanted to work with? How was the recording process in general?

A: I wish we could have really gotten down to recording with Damon, but his words and advice did help us make this album, drive it in the direction we did. But yes of course, working with Nick definitely was something we always wanted to do. Specifically with Nick, it was interesting how we did it. It was more of just riffing out, then finding something we all liked and getting down to work.
M: We worked with some very amazing people on this album. I really enjoyed working on it with Nick because he is such a sweetheart and a very brilliant musician. He only did three of the tracks on the album but contributed so much to what is on the album. I learned a lot of great tricks from him in our time out there in El Paso. As for working with Justin Warfield he was a riot and taught us a lot of pop tricks. He helped loads on the production side of things and working with both those gentlemen was absolutely a pleasure.

2014 has been a big year for you. You’ve played with Black Sabbath and Dropkick Murphys and you’ve done some great festivals like Coachella and Sonisphere. What has been your highlight so far?

A: 2014 has been absolutely wonderful, just amazing! I can’t pinpoint one thing to be honest, I personally think that the drop of the new album is my highlight. All of what we did was leading up to this and it’s a great feeling as well.
M: 2014 has been such a great year for us, we have played so many great shows and everyone has been so lovely to us. All those festivals have been fantastic and those memories will stick with you forever but if I had to choose a time this year that stuck out it would have to be Japan. Such a beautiful place: people are so polite and respect the bands that make their way out there to them. All over a wonderful experience and would love to go back very soon.

What are your plans after releasing ‘Pink Palms’?

A: Planning on touring in the new year, but that’s just one thing that’s on the list. There’s lots more that’s being planned!
M: Our plans after dropping this album are just to tour the life out of it and begin writing for the next album.

Will you be back in the UK any time soon?

A: I hope so, miss being up that way, so hopefully real soon!
M: Yes we will be back and we will tour our album out there as well. Very much looking forward to it. We love the UK.

What’s the big goal? Where do you want to go from here?

A: To continue doing this and steadily growing! There’s so much I want to do in this band and some of which isn’t even thought up yet. I just want to continue going up with Mikaiah, making this more and more of a steady job!
M: I would hope to be doing this for as long as I live, making great music that people can enjoy forever. Trying to stay relevant and make a living doing what I love. I always wanna try to do the best at whatever it is i am doing.


Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]