Bitches, Listen... to the New Robocop Jam "Word Virus"

A sharp blast of powerviolence and sludge, with intricate lyrics and a pitch-perfect cover of Napalm Death’s “You Suffer,” Maine trio Robocop’s 2011 full-length Robocop II is easily one of the best releases on Grindcore Karaoke to date. Maybe we’re a little biased, because Robocop guitarist Ryan Page is consistently one of the most droll and on-point posters on the Decibel forum. But, seriously, check out this exclusive premiere of “Word Virus” (from the group’s upcoming split with Canada’s Detroit) and you’ll want to cop all of their shit immediately.

Robocop has paid tribute to Eric Wood on the song "Maine Is the Bastard" and with an equally radical T-shirt design. At what point did you contact him for clearance, and what advice did he have for you guys? Ryan Page: Eric Wood was great. Luke Physioc, the artist we were working with, had come up with the idea for a T-shirt after hearing the song of the same name on Robocop II. The song itself was a bit of gonzo poetry about the painful stupidity of Maine punk. I had written the song in the early days of our band, so I hadn’t thought to contact Wood about it. When we decided to do the shirt with Luke, we agreed to do it only with his blessing. Luke sent Wood an email, received the OK, and had the design ready for us in a day. (This was all done while he was in Afghanistan, by the way.)

I was told that Wood really liked the design, and so we sent everyone in Bastard Noise one of the shirts. I know that there is this big controversy (which everyone will have probably forgotten about by the time this is published) regarding the use of “The Skull,” but I honestly think it wouldn't have happened if that band with the Juggalo-sounding name had just asked him. In the midst of all the stupidity coming from both sides (it was a bummer to see MiTB fans using homophobic slurs), there was a quote that I felt nicely summed it up: "Stealing is often fine; I think it's the gentrification of punk by a bunch of white middle-class hipsters which sticks in people's craw."

Is it true that you're doing a limited cassette release of Robocop II? Page: Yes, it is. I can't really stand the format myself, but people have been asking us for a while, so when we got an offer to do it, we ran with it. I think my problem with tapes is that until about 10 years ago, I was broke enough to be still buying tapes, so now I just think back to how shitty my copy of Haunting the Chapel sounded after thousands of plays. I get it, though, I'm so stuck in my ways that I still have a massive collection of VHS tapes and Laserdiscs.

How does Robocop relate to Body Hammer? Page: Well, although it’s a little ridiculous, there is some relevance to the particular names for each band. Body Hammer was named after a film by Shinya Tsukamoto, one of my favorite modern Japanese filmmakers (although he hasn't exactly been knocking it out of the park lately). The film is about a man who slowly turns into a machine, and begins to collect metal on his body like an infection. Tsukamato's two Tetsuo films are classics of Extreme Japanese Cyberpunk, which at the time I was quite interested in.

Body Hammer is sort of an odd project. I play all of the instruments, and program the drum machines. Cybergrind is quite a popular genre now, but what I do with Body Hammer is pretty far removed from that. I've heard it described as a cross between Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Gnaw Their Tongues, and while I obviously can't compare with either of those bands, I think they are pretty good reference points for my sound.

Robocop started because Tom (our drummer) came up to me in a supermarket and asked me to start a band with him. At the time, what we were doing was very primitive kind of music, and I liked the idea of keeping with naming bands after movie cyborgs, hence our moniker. I also like the idea of Robocop as a subversive action movie, and Robocop as a subversive punk/hardcore band. Things started to shift after Luke Abbott joined. I think we’ve outgrown our name, but I'm also not particularly bothered by it.

Robocop broke up in July 2011, and what appears to be the band’s final material is being released on a split with a Canadian band named Detroit. Is this the last we'll see of Robocop? Page: Robocop split up this summer because I came out to California to get my MFA in electronic music at Mills College. We’re all on good terms, and we've been working together to finish this split. Live shows don't seem a possibility in the near future, but we've talked about ideas for recording.

Robocop II was part of the initial wave of releases on Jay Randall's Grindcore Karaoke label/website/repository of awesomeness. What type of exposure did this provide vis a vis putting out a record through more traditional avenues? Do you have any idea how many people got their hands on this? Page: Grindcore Karaoke was the best promotion we could have hoped for. The speed at which it came together was probably the biggest advantage. Recording and mixing the album to way too long (over a year) and so it was good to be able to send the master to Jay and get the album out within days. It helped that we were in the first round of releases, because I think we began to be associated with the label, and its potential, which was an honor. I haven't checked recently, but about six months ago Jay said that between the demo and Robocop II, there had been around 15,000 downloads of our albums from GK. Jay has been really great to us. He actually contributed a short track to the split. It’s not a noise track in the way one might expect, but somewhere between noise and the score to a horror film.

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