If you’re a fan of indie music, lengthy stories, and cheeky science fiction, there’s a good chance you’re going to like Fellow Robot. The Long Beach band may have only recently started releasing music — such as their first two singles, “Clone Baby” and “Become the Sky” — within the past couple of months, but the idea behind Fellow Robot has actually been pouring out of lead vocalist Anthony Pedroza’s brain for a few years now.
“In 2016, I started writing a sci-fi book called The Robot’s Guide to Music,” Pedroza says. “At the time, I was in a lot of pain and needed an escape from it, so I decided to go full robot and immerse myself into the character Fellow Robot. In the book, there are several characters who are songwriters, and I thought ‘What would this book be like if it was accompanied with music?’”
As the creator of an entire literary universe, Pedroza knew he would require further assistance to craft a soundtrack fitting for such an elaborate project. Drummer Luis Renteria became the first recruit to Fellow Robot late last year, while other musicians like John Zell and Mike Adams began popping in after hearing what their Long Beach music scene cohorts were up to. In a matter of months, the group had taken what they expected to be enough material for a short EP and turned it into several dozen songs.
With Pedroza now able to share his ideas with Renteria at every turn, the singer’s timeless influences like Johnny Cash melded with Renteria’s indie leanings to create the sound that became Fellow Robot. Aside from adding a rhythm section, Renteria also increased the production levels with his own recording studio and experience in the producer’s chair. Without his help — and some assists from handfuls of the South Bay’s top local acts — Pedroza’s half-finished songs and thoughts may never have seen the light of day.
“He’d bring the tracks to my studio — without me having listened to them — and I’d have to develop and record a drum track, typically in front of whoever we were recording next,” Renteria says. “I felt some pressure to perform in front of these super, uber-talented musicians, but it was so much fun. We had so many Long Beach musicians in the studio, it really was a treat to share beers and share horror stories between takes.”
“Creating and recording this project has been incredibly fun and fulfilling,” Pedroza adds. “This has been a project of saying ‘Yes.’ Luis and I work really well together, and I think it’s because we never say ‘No’ to each other. I’ve brought Luis almost 50 songs, and while many did not make the cut for the album, we still produced every song. The Robot’s Guide to Music is very human, and I wanted the best humans to express themselves on the album.”
While some bands struggle to put together a decent follow-up to their debut EP, Pedroza and Renteria are already preparing to release six records in the near future. Following more in the path of great sci-fi epics rather than standard albums, the first trilogy — which they’re approximately halfway done recording — will focus on Fellow Robot before the last three shift gears to feature the dark side of Pedroza’s universe, the FoeBots.
Beyond the dueling trilogies, the guys are also working on some tunes for an upcoming TV series while continuing to play all of their favorite Long Beach bars with roughly one show each month. More than anything though, Pedroza and Renteria are just looking to share the good vibes and unique perspective that can only be brought with the tales of a 140-year-old robotic musician.
“It’s good music for good people by good robots,” Renteria says. “We are musicians that really enjoy creating music. We hope [people] listen with the same amount of joy we felt while putting it all together.”