Captured! By Robots plays Double Wide Saturday
Jay Vance started his one-man metal band Captured! By Robots in San Francisco 20 years ago because he couldn't deal with people.
"It was born out of my frustration with the human condition," Vance says. "I'm just as bad as everybody else but I figured out a way to not have to deal with those fuckers anymore."
Vance's feelings haven't changed. He still loathes humanity even though humans helped him grow his insane concept about a tortured frontman nicknamed JBOT, whose robot band turned against its creator, disemboweled and de-eyeballed him and force him to perform songs about robotic uprisings as well as cover classic rock hits.
Vance's concept has changed somewhat over time. He's removed his gouged eyeball mask and steered his metallic band of metal music makers away from novelty and down a much darker and more serious path. His latest album Endless Circle of Bullshit features political and philosophical tracks such as "Debt to Be Paid," "So Sick" and "YOUR GREED IS YOUR DESTRUCTION."
Vance is on his "Your Future Is Death" tour supporting the new album and will perform at Double Wide this Saturday.
Vance says he decided to change the band's direction during a classic rock cover tour in 2015, when a friend told him he should use his music to speak his mind.
"We fell into this thing of doing cover songs for awhile and I was disgusted with myself," Vance says. "I was a comedy robot act that says nothing. It was just a bunch of bullshit so I decided to quit, and couldn't figure out how to change. I took about a year off and decided I wanted to go back to it but I wanted to write political shit about how fucked people really are, and it's been wonderful. It's really been a joy."
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Vance started Captured! By Robots in 1996 after several attempts to play in metal bands with actual humans such as the Chicago ska-metal band the Blue Meanies and the California ska group Skankin' Pickle.
"In a big band like that, you never really make money and there are all these cliques in the band who talk shit about the other groups," Vance says. "So it's just so fucked."
Using the electrical engineering knowledge he picked up from working on keyboards and amps, Vance decided to just build his own band of robots who don't talk shit about you behind your back and can be unplugged when they start to get annoying. Vance says he got the idea from a Steel Pole Bath Tub show, where the band just played "a tape with crazy noises on it" during "the heavy parts of their songs."
Vance's metal band was placed in the same camp as over-the-top, comedy metal acts like GWAR, except he was tired of people thinking he and his robots were joking. He says he wanted to be more like other grindcore and death metal acts.
"People still want to put me with comedy metal and I can't stand comedy metal," Vance says. "Back in the day, I didn't have any integrity so who gives a shit? I hold my shit to be as serious as a heart attack. The human race needs to die. When I preach that stuff, I'm not joking."
Vance knew his new downer attitude might cause him to lose some fans, but he was tired of the novelty concept he had originally created.
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"I knew that I was not going to be able to take a lot of the audience with me that knew me before," Vance says. "They might not get what I'm doing now but honestly, my crowds have diminished so much that it didn't matter, and honestly, it still doesn't matter to me now. I'm not chasing money anymore and right now, all that matters to me is that I speak my mind and play music that I like that's similar to what I listen to and makes me happy. Crowds will come or they won't because I've given up on art as a commodity and I just want to be happy to do it."
Vance has been pleasantly surprised by the reception to his new music. It feels "people are with me," he says.
"Maybe they don't totally agree with what I say and the music is so concussive and energetic and I'm screaming a lot, so they probably can't hear what I have to say," he says. "When I reached out with this band, I wanted to create as much energy from the stage into the crowd with just the robots and my voice as much as I could and it was a massive challenge to do but this grindcore, death metal power is amazing. It's so concussive and full of hits. It's wonderful. It feels like a punch in the face. It wakes you up. It's probably the most physical kind of music and it just fits."
Captured! By Robots, 8 p.m. Saturday, Double Wide, 3510 Commerce Ave., $10, Prekindle.com.