I Blame Robot is an emerging band on the Calgary music scene whose sound is hard to classify. Is it ’80s pop-punk fusion, queer electronic synth pop, or indie boy-grrl Breakfast Club raucousness?
The troupe is comprised of Stephanie Noel on vocals and guitar, Jesse George on synthesizer, and Casper Gilks on bass. At one point the band had a drummer but pared down to its current trio by using electronic beats.
The band says defining their sound has always been a challenge to communicate. George decides during the interview their sound is called “laser rock,” a newly created musical genre. His bandmates burst with amusement.
Although hard to pigeonhole, I Blame Robot plays some remarkably catchy tunes. With songs like, You’re Just a Boy In a Dress, Zombie Prom Date, and Dance Floor Drama, one is forced at a minimum to start toe-tapping — perhaps progressing to full-on moshing after a complete set. One fan describes their tunes as ‘musical insomnia.’
The band is predominantly queer, yet like many young Canadians their sexuality is but a detail — the music comes first.
“We are excited about playing the Pride Festival [in Calgary] this summer,” George says. “We are always looking to get out there and attract new audiences.”
Gilks, the only heterosexual in I Blame Robot, notes that being different does not make him insecure.
“I like it — girls hit on me at shows, boys hit on me at shows; my beauty knows no bounds,” he exclaims.
Noel wryly adds, “Yes: it is Casper’s ego that fuels the band.” More laughter ensues.
The band’s chemistry is beginning to pay off. After two years together, their musical collaborating has achieved traction: they have released an EP, their songs are getting radio play — even making the charts, and they are attracting attention in the local media.
“We are not looking to be giant huge rock stars,” Noel says. “We just want to be able to tour without having a day job.”
Gilks interjects with faux outrage, “What are you talking about! The coolest thing for any musician is to travel the world and play music.”
Having recently hosted the Juno awards, Calgary’s civic arts development organization spent a lot of energy marketing the strength and diversity of Calgary’s local music scene.
But Noel says it’s still not quite big enough.
“If I could have it my way I would live in Vancouver or Montreal [to play music],” he says. “Calgary is trying, but people are not coming out to local shows enough.”
Gilks adds, “But there is a sense that things are just starting now — this city could become a big deal. There are a lot of good bands here.”
I Blame Robot not only has a distinctive sound, but an unusual moniker. The band gets it name from an inside joke. It refers to a time in rehearsals where George kept making mistakes. He blamed it all on the squishy robot mascot he keeps on his keyboard, and the name stuck.
“Lots of bands have really bad names and we might as well be one of them,” says George.
There is a beat before the laughter begins.
I Blame Robot.
April 26, 2008, 9:00 PM.
219 10th Ave. SW.