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The Triangle - The Independent Student Newspaper at Drexel University

The Bots talk new album and tour

Bethany Mollenkoff MCT Campus Mikaiah Lei (pictured) is the lead guitarist, vocalist and bassist of The Bots. The band is composed of Mikaiah and his brother Anaiah, who plays the drums.

Bethany Mollenkoff MCT Campus
Mikaiah Lei (pictured) is the lead guitarist, vocalist and bassist of The Bots. The band is composed of Mikaiah and his brother Anaiah, who plays the drums.

There have been a number of young, aspiring musicians around the block that might pale in comparison to The Bots’ zealous garage punk music. With choppy guitars and raw lyrics, The Bots create a catchy concoction of punk rock with a tinge of the American blues. The two-man band is made up of the Lei brothers — Mikaiah and Anaiah — who exemplify the definition of musical prodigies.

The two brothers recorded their first album eponymously titled “The Bots” at the ages of just 15 and 12, respectively, and there was no looking back. The brothers have toured around the world and performed at the Vans Warped Tour, Afropunk Festival and Colors of Ostrava, one of the biggest music festivals in the Czech Republic. The Bots are coming to Philadelphia May 15 and will play the North Star Bar.

In an online interview with The Triangle, Mikaiah and Anaiah discussed their musical endeavors, their upcoming album and brotherly love. The brothers grew up listening to the American rock duo The White Stripes, which inspired them to form their own music duo.

“A lot of reggae growing up [must have] something to do with [our style],” the brothers added.

It is intriguing that a band run by then-teenagers would receive worldwide acclaim. However, Mikaiah and Anaiah knew their calling. According to the two, “ever since we started playing, that is all we really wanted to do.”

The band released one full-length eponymously titled album in 2009, followed by three EPs — “Black and White Lights” (2010), “Ladies & Gentlemen” (2011) and “Sincerely Sorry” (2013).

“Despite the often profound lyrics, the words are very much secondary to the emotions evoked by the music,” they wrote.

This is truly exhibited by songs like “No One Knows” and “5:17,” which both possess The Bots’ distinct (and quite undefinable) style. This might be because the band is influenced by a range of bands and musicians such as Arcade Fire, Micachu and the Shapes, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Black Lips, Feist, Arctic Monkeys, and Mac DeMarco.

It came as no surprise when Damon Albarn, frontman of the bands Blur and Gorillaz, referred to The Bots as his current favorite band. Reacting to Albarn’s remarks, the brothers exclaimed that because of Albarn, they met Nick Zinner, the guitarist of the New York band Yeah Yeah Yeahs, with whom they worked on their music. The brothers, with their modest demeanor, expressed how grateful they felt to have played with both Albarn’s and Zinner’s bands.

But The Bots’ fame is not limited to their audience and fellow musicians. They have been on the radar for a while and The New York Times Magazine has rightly described them as being at the “cusp of their stardom.” The Bots are working hard toward the goal of making their band successful without forgetting their roots.

The brothers never cease to express their gratitude for the support and the fandom that they have received. Most of all, the Lei brothers are extremely supportive of each other. While they hardly see each other outside of touring, they ensure the group dynamic works fine with their of “brotherly love.”

The Bots are planning on releasing an LP at the end of the summer. The band reportedly started recording the album five years ago. On being asked about the music and the album’s theme, the band responded, “No theme really. [The music] is just as diverse as always.”

The band’s charm lies in its diversity and unpredictability. There are a number of genres that have influenced and appear in the band’s music, and it is almost impossible to categorize The Bots into a limited, rigid genre. But the band appears to be quite unaffected by this, as the brothers wrote that they “really [are just] trying to achieve greatness.”

The two are pushing the band and writing more music that their fans can enjoy. According to the brothers, it all comes down to the audience. It becomes essential as musicians to be able to entertain and meet the expectations of the band’s fans. It would not sound far-fetched to say that The Bots have already achieved that.

With thousands of fans on their garage punk boat, the Lei brothers are not just meeting expectations, as they unassumingly put, but also leaving an indelible mark with their creative fusion. I believe there could have been no better band to play in the City of Brotherly Love other than the two brothers who epitomize it.