In the music of Kick the Robot, hook-heavy alt-rock gets shot through with bright harmonies, blistering guitar riffs, and a fantastically bold sensibility. On their upcoming sophomore album Black Magic Radio Static, the Lawrenceville, Georgia-based trio back that flash and swagger with razor-sharp songcraft that gives new depth to the band’s self-described breed of “arena garage rock.” And as shown on songs like the stomping lead single “Supermassive Automatic,” Kick the Robot’s triple-vocal attack and powerful melodies make for some truly transcendent rock & roll.
Black Magic Radio Static arrives as the follow-up to Kick the Robot’s full-length debut Music to Fight the Future, a 2013 release praised by Backstage Beat for offering “a fine, organic sound that harkens back to the genre’s bright days in the ‘90s.” Produced by Gerry Hansen (Chuck Leavell, Shawn Mullins, Randall Bramblett, Michelle Malone), the new album builds off that sound with a heightened emotional intensity seen in such tracks as the brutally honest “Foxtrot Uniform.” At the same time, Black Magic Radio Static fully harnesses the unabashed energy of Kick the Robot’s potent chemistry and frenetic live performance recently revealed on their national tour with Collective Soul.
Forming Kick the Robot in their early teens, drummer Dylan Hansen, bassist Dan Remel, and guitarist Jesse Scarpone founded the band with a vision of returning a certain raw passion to today’s rock music. “We all grew up listening to music from the late-‘60s and the ‘70s, and there’s a rebellious spirit to that era that really appeals to us,” explains Hansen, who got inspired to play drums after watching Remel and Scarpone form a band in sixth grade. The previous year, Remel had made a plea to his parents to buy him his first guitar and—to prove his ambition—taught himself to play “Smoke on the Water” on a three-ring binder he’d strung with rubber bands. Scarpone, meanwhile, first picked up the guitar when he was just eight-years-old, thanks largely to his father’s influence. “My dad was always into bands like Zeppelin and Deep Purple and started me on guitar pretty young, and I just loved it and ran with it,” Scarpone recalls.
Once Remel swapped guitar for bass—and the trio discovered the power of their harmonizing as vocalists—Kick the Robot recorded and released their debut EP in 2009. The band also began playing locally, steadily gaining acclaim as a fiery live act and eventually triumphing at Atlanta’s Hard Rock Rising batte-of-the-bands contest in 2012. The following month, after releasing Music to Fight the Future in April, Kick the Robot earned a fan in none other than Sir Elton John, who met with the band and then gifted Scarpone an Ephiphone guitar. The trio soon started writing and recording for Black Magic Radio Static, expanding on the vitality and artistry first shown on Music to Fight the Future with even greater melodic grandeur and more daringly personal lyrics. And by the end of 2015, Kick the Robot found themselves once again honored, taking the Best Local Rock Act award in Creative Loafing’s “Best of Atlanta” issue and going on tour with Collective Soul.
With their name signifying a revolt against soullessness in modern music, Kick the Robot are driven by a shared desire to make music that shakes up listeners and defies expectation. “What we love about rock & roll is that it can be so loud and brash and trashy, but still have these great melodies and so much substance.”