The Rumpus Interview With The Bots

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The Bots are a band of two brothers, Mikaiah Lei, 17, and Anaiah Lei, 13, hailing from Glendale, California. Mikaiah sings and plays guitar while his younger brother Anaiah holds it down on the drums.  Their youth infuses their music with a proper energy, yet their lyrics are sophisticated and old-souled.  A lot of  punk, a little bit rocking, and at times heartfelt, The Bots will likely win you over.

I caught up with The Bots on the Internet and we conducted the following interview over email.

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The Rumpus: How did you guys first decide to be a band?

The Bots: The Bots originally had other members in 2006 but we as brothers decided to continue the band with just us two in 2007.

Rumpus: What do the kids you know think about you being in a band?

Anaiah: A lot of kids think it is pretty cool that we are doing  something like this.

Mikaiah: My friends support me in what we are doing. Kids think its pretty cool.

Rumpus: Did the song “We Are Not Kids Anymore” come out of being sick and tired of being called a kid band?

Anaiah: No it’s just a song, but on the subject we don’t want to be considered a kid band.

Rumpus: Some of your lyrics seem very mature, is that just because I forget what it’s like to have the wisdom of youth, or do you feel mature for your age?

Bots: We don’t feel like we are mature for our ages. We just write what sounds and feels good.

Rumpus: In the song “I Like Your Style” you write about this feeling that everyone has a certain amount of envy over someone else and their abilities. “I want to be like you / You want to be like me” are the end lyrics – can you elaborate on this?

Bots: The song is a mockery of people that think pretentious things like style and fashion are important in life.

Rumpus: I can’t find your music on iTunes – what’s up with that?

Bots: It is coming at the end of October. Both the self titled album and our new EP Black and White Lights will be on iTunes.

Rumpus: Also, why don’t you print your lyrics on your website?

Bots: We just been too lazy, but we will be moving forward.

Rumpus: A lot of your songs are fairly rock and roll and then you bust out a slow song like “Old Days.”  Do you think every band needs to get a little melancholy and reflective once in a while?

Bots: Yes, absolutely; we have loads more to come.

Rumpus: Speaking of “Old Days” that’s one song in particular where the lyrics seem very impressive – not to sound like an old person, but the lyrics seem very mature. How do you write a song about the old days when you’re only sixteen, or however old you were when you wrote it? Lines like “Hiding your shame beneath your health / People walk in different ways / This ain’t like the old days” give me pause — are you writing from personal experience, or do you write as a character?

Mikaiah: I wrote the song when I was only 13; I am 17 now.  Mostly I write as a character; the words comes with the music in my head.

Rumpus: Is it hard balancing school and trying to pursue a musical career?

Bots: No. Music never seems to get in the way of school.

Rumpus: Besides being in a band, or school, how do you spend your days?

Anaiah: Writing music for the band and doing parkour. I also enjoy spending time with some friends.

Mikaiah: Listening to my vinyl, writing music, bike riding, drinking tea, and flying my kite.

Rumpus: Can you list one or several albums you think are perfect?

Ananiah: Little dragon’s album Self Titled, A7X’s Nightmare, Catch 22’s Keaseby Nights.

Mikaiah: Villagers’ Becoming a Jackal, Funeral by Arcade Fire, Feist’s Let It Die.

Rumpus: Can you remember the first thing that made you want to be a musician?

Anaiah: It was early in elementary school and listening to music and playing music in school that inspired me to want to be musician.

Miakaih: Watching musicians on MTV.

Rumpus: What was being on tour like?

Anaiah: It was an amazing feeling! I really loved it and it was just so great to travel.

Mikaiah: It was brilliant, I loved meeting all the great people and getting to see so many beautiful sights.

Rumpus: What’s the worst part about being in a band?

Anaiah: Having to sweat our butts off in a hot room rehearsing for hours. But it’s all in the experience.

Mikaiah: Carrying all of our equipment to all our shows.

Rumpus: What’s your dream for this musical journey you’re on?

Anaiah: To show people our music all around the world and hopefully to inspire them to follow in our foot steps.

MIkaiah: To get everyone from ages 1 to 100 to like our music and tap their toes at least.

Rumpus: Speaking of music you like, if you had to pick the musician whose career you most admire, who would it be and why?

Anaiah: I’d probably want to be Andrew W.K.  I mean, he’s a legend that everyone wants to be, hahahaha. And he wears all white all the time. Too classic.

Mikaiah: I would like like to be Arcade Fire. The whole band because they are amazing. I love all that they do, and how they get into their music. I love the musical trance that they put me into.

Rumpus: What would be your fantasy job other than musician?

Anaiah: Maybe a professional walker.

Mikaiah: Vanna White, because I think she has the easiest job in the world.

Rumpus: Most prized possession?

Anaiah: My most prized possession is and always is going to be my drum set!

Mikaiah: I personally have a few. Not in any specific order:  My vinyls, bike, and maybe one of my guitars.

Rumpus: What’s your favorite souvenir from touring?

Anaiah: One of the picks and set list of one of the guitarist of Dropkick Murphy’s! But I gave it to my aunt who is a pretty big fan.

Mikaiah: The super soaker I took from Bring Me the Horizon and some other stuff from them.

Rumpus: Are your parents really big into music — did they have a role in your development as musicians?

Anaiah: They are really big, I’m telling you. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t even know what type of music I’d be listening to now-a-days.

Mikaiah: They are really into music, but not really what I listen to. And yes my dad bought all the instruments for us but we taught ourselves how to play.

Rumpus: Do you have a favorite movie?

Anaiah: Yes! A couple actually: the entire Star Wars Saga, all of the Back to The Future movies, and The Outsiders.

Mikaiah: I really enjoyed the film Paper Heart. I have not fallen in love yet, but I would like to.

Rumpus: Do you have a favorite book?

Anaiah: Also The Outsiders.

Mikaiah: I don’t really have one but I really did like the book my teacher showed us in my class of 2010. The teacher, Mr. Livingstone, the book was Of Mice and Men.

Rumpus: Does being a rock star get you extra cool points with girls, or do you even care about that?

Anaiah: Ahahahaha! Well I’m NOOOwhere close to getting in with the girls, and right now isn’t too good to focus on any of that stuff, so I’m just gonna give it some time.

Mikaiah: No, girls do not like me… as much as I like them. Plus I don’t even tell girls that I am in a band so I guess I don’t care either.

Rumpus: I know one of you is home-schooled — what’s that like?

Anaiah: Well I’ll answer for Mikaiah.  He stopped being home-schooled and joined me at our high school one month ago when I started the 9th and he is in the 12th! He claims that the experience was very boring and depressing.

Rumpus: I know you went to New York for a show — what’s your take on that city?

Anaiah: Yes we did! It was so fun, New York was extremely hot, but the people there were amazing, very nice.

Mikaiah: I liked it, brilliant place… sadly it did not feel like I was in New York;  it was just like LA. But the people were very bold.

Rumpus: What’s your idea of a perfect day?

Anaiah: A day were just everything runs smoothly, and when I’m not being really clumsy!

Mikaiah: All goes well at school, maybe I hangout with a friend or two. Come home after a nice bike ride, listen to some of my records on my portable turntable and drink a cup of tea. And a bath.

Rumpus: Lastly, do you have any general life advice for our readers?

Anaiah: Just live life to it’s fullest. That’s all I could pretty much say!

Mikaiah: You only live once so go out and do stuff. Get risky. But make sure you don’t do something so hardcore you kill yourself or ruin your life. Stay safe.

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Photos by Walter Einenkel.


Anisse Gross is a writer, editor, artist and question asker living in San Francisco. Her work has been featured in The New Yorker, The Believer, Lucky Peach, Buzzfeed, Brooklyn Quarterly, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She openly welcomes correspondence, friendship, surprises and paid work. More from this author →