Just when you think punk rock has become nothing more than cookie cutter pretty boys who love to whine and wear skinny jeans, a band like The Bots comes along and reminds you of how daring, bold and fun the genre can truly be. Seventeen year old Mikaiah Lei plays guitar and sings and his brother, thirteen year old Anaiah Lei plays the drums. Don’t let their ages fool you. The Bots are loud, aggressive and they are the shot in the arm punk rock has been waiting for. The drum/guitar duo has a self titled disc (affectionately titled, Self Titled Disc) and it is chock full of energy and intensity and the boys have already graced the stages of The Whisky and the Roxy in Hollywood. This summer The Bots held their own at the Afro-Punk Festival in New York and they will make history as the youngest band to play The Warped Tour.
I had the chance to chat with The Bots just as they were gearing up to hit The Warped Tour this week.
David Carr: So how long have you been playing together and how did you get into punk rock?
Anaiah Lei: We have been playing together for eight years now.
Mikaiah: Our dad introduced us to rock and roll. He was into the whole punk rock/hardcore scene back in the 80’s!
David: So would you say your parents are supportive of what you are doing?
Anaiah: Yeah! They are very supportive, one hundred percent!
David: Who are some of your influences? Who do you like to listen to?
Anaiah: I love Bad Brains. They are truly living legends. HR is actually a family friend. I also like Black Flag and The Circle Jerks.
Mikaiah: Do I have to list just punk bands? I listen to a lot of stuff.
David: It does not have to be just punk at all. Who do you dig?
Mikaiah: I really like Arcade Fire. I am also into Fiest and Little Dragon.
David: Anaiah, you mentioned that HR is a family friend? How so?
Anaiah: Our dad and he have been good friends for years. He would always come over and we knew what he did. We had listened to Bad Brains stuff but never seen them live. We got a chance to see HR open for 311 but this past July we played the Afro-Punk Festival and we got a chance to finally see Bad Brains live!
David: Talk to me about the Afro-Punk Festival. What was exciting about playing that festival?
Anaiah: The festival was a lot of fun and going to New York was great! I guess I haven’t seen much of the world just yet, so to be able to go to a place like New York was really cool.
Mikaiah: New York was fun. The people at the festival and in the city were very flamboyant (editor’s note: This is in fact an SAT word! Well done Mikaiah). I’m not exposed to that a whole lot, so it was interesting to see.
David: You are about to play The Warped Tour this week. What are you excited about and what are you most nervous about?
Anaiah: Well, I am not really nervous about anything. I am excited to see all of the craziness going on at the show.
Mikaiah: Yeah, same here. I am not really nervous. We are very confident in what we do. I think it will be fun and we will be fine!
David: Ok, when I am not interviewing bands I am working in the world of education. As a teacher/educator I would feel bad if I did not ask you a few questions that dealt with your education, ok?
Mikaiah and Anaiah together: Ok.
David: Are you in summer school and if so how many classes will you miss because of the Warped Tour?
Anaiah: HA! We are not in school this summer. We won’t miss any classes.
David: Do you think being in a band will get you dates to the junior and/or senior prom this up coming school year?
Mikaiah: Well I am gonna be home schooled this year so there won’t really be any proms in my future.
Anaiah: Yeah I am starting my freshman year in high school so I probably won’t be going to any proms either.
David: Hmm — really? I find that hard to believe. I mean, you are in a band with a disc out!
Mikaiah: Well sir, I don’t want to put myself down or talk badly about myself but I am not that great with the ladies!
Anaiah: Yeah — me neither.
David: Well do you think that maybe sharing your stories about your summer vacation will help? I mean how many other kids/students on your block can say that during their summer vacation they played the Afro-Punk Festival in NY and The Warped Tour?
Anaiah and Mikaiah: (brief, silent pause and then — ) OH YEAH! That’s right! HA! I guess that will help.
David: You mentioned your folks are very supportive, but how mad does your mother get if you stage dive into the audience during a show? Are you grounded for a week?
Anaiah: I don’t really stage dive. I like to crowd surf!!
Mikaiah: Yeah, we crowd surf but we don’t get in trouble for it.
Anaiah: We are good kids. We don’t really get into too much trouble. Our parents love what we do! Our mom takes pictures of us when we crowd surf and she puts them on Facebook!
David: What’s next for you guys after Warped Tour?
Anaiah: We will be working on writing our second disc. We will hopefully be done with it and have it out by the end of the year. Since we are brothers we really work well together. We recorded our first disc in a week! We have 4-5 songs ready to go and our music has grown.
David: Are you signed to an indie label?
Mikaiah: No, not at all. We are producing the disc ourselves and we will sell it our ourselves through our website.
David: Guys, it has been a pleasure talking to you. Good luck on the Warped Tour this summer and good luck with recording the new disc.
Mikaiah: Thank you for talking to us!
Anaiah: Thanks a lot! Hopefully we will play some shows in LA before the disc comes out.
From SAT words to stories about mom enjoying the crowd surfing, there is much to dig about The Bots! Check out two really good punk rock kids, as they bring the noise this summer.
Aug 11 2010
Pomona Fairplex Pomona, California, US
Aug 12 2010
Sleep Train Amphitheatre Sacramento, California, US
Aug 13 2010
Idaho Center Amphitheatre Boise, Idaho, US
Aug 14 2010
Gorge Amphitheatre Seattle, Washington, US
Aug 15 2010
Washington County Fairgrounds Portland, Oregon, US