Robb Torres may be best known for his time with the platinum rockers Trapt, but with Robbery Inc., but he’s working on something decidedly more soulful and personal: Robbery Inc. Rounded out by Jonah Wei-Haas on bass/keys and Matt Camgros on drums, the band — which is, yes, just a fun play on Torres’ name — has already released a well-regarded EP, Crave, and a new single “Honeybee” during its nascent existence.
A guitarist since the age of 15 and inspired by the likes of AC/DC and Elton John (“Back in Black for the rock, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road for the melodies”), Torres initially resisted becoming the focal point of any band he joined. “I always wanted to sing, and stepped up in front a few times,” he admits. “But it’s self-defeating. So I retreated to the confines of a being a guitar player.”
Fortunately, his guitar exploits helped him land a several year-stint with Trapt. While that gig increased his exposure, it also led Torres to reconsider his sideman status. “Being in that band actually pushed me to do my own thing,” he says. “I like metal, but I had never had a desire to start a band like that.”
Instead, he sought a dynamic, modern take on a rock trio, as well as like-minded bandmates. A few iterations of Robbery Inc. went by before Camgros and Wei-Haas joined, which, as their stories suggest, seemed destined to happen.
“Robbery Inc. was actually the first band I saw play upon moving to LA — I had only been in town for two days,” says Camgros. “And when I first starting playing with Robb, I noticed how welcoming he was. I liked how he knew a lot of music and we could talk about it. Music wasn’t an act to him.”
Robbery Inc. has already crisscrossed the country and has plans for a full album and larger tours in the near future. But for now, Torres and his bandmates have been happy to get the ball rolling on their own. And that DIY spirit is something they intend to stick with for a while.
“This whole process has been really thrilling and inspiring,” says Torres. “I’m looking forward to seeing us grow as a band, and me becoming a better singer, songwriter and performer. I want to enjoy this journey as much as I can. That’s the inspiring part.”
Glide is premiering “Skin,” (below) the frantic B side to the 7-inch the LA trio will release on September 22nd of 2017. Robbery Inc brings a noisy melodic rock edge that is sorely missing in today’s musical landscape where meaty guitar riffs and solos have gone the wayside. Glide also had the chance to talk to Torres about his blistering new trio….
What can you tell us about the track “Skin” that’s being premiered?
“Skin” was written in late 2016 with a friend and amazing artist and writer in his own right, Ollie Gabriel. At the time, there seemed to be a lot of officer-involved shootings of minorities, so it was an issue that was on my mind. I was wondering if these police officers were really scared for their lives, or if they intended to kill the person knowing they could get away with it. I came up with the main riff and started singing some lyrics — the first line that emerged was, “Hey Mr. Blue can you tell me what’s ailing you”. It put me in the perspective of a psychologist questioning the police officer after the incident to try to understand what happened. It’s a touchy subject, but I don’t think it should go unnoticed.”
For readers and listeners new to Robbery Inc – can you please give a little background on how the band formed and what the creative process has been like so far?
Robbery Inc. formed shortly after my departure from TRAPT. I had started writing songs with some friends for the purpose of TV/film placements. The first song that was written was “Something About You Ain’t Right”. I thought my co-writer was going to sing the song but to my surprise she said “No, you’re singing it”. So I did. That was the moment that set things in motion to become Robbery inc.
After a few more songs, I released an EP under my own name. I didn’t play any shows, I didn’t have a band, and the thought of singing in public was terrifying. About a year after, a good friend hit me up and says he loves the music, wants to manage me, and that I should pursue the project. We brainstormed on band names and landed on Robbery Inc. At first, we laughed it off as we were having a good time, but then we both realized the double meaning and were like, “This is a great band name!”
Thank you for the compliment. Once I started Robbery Inc., I was playing my own music, so I started to think about what the sound of the band should be. I can always envision what I want my guitar to sound like, but achieving it is much more difficult. I don’t think we’ve nailed it yet, but with each new song we are getting closer. I also produce, so I can experiment with guitar tones and the sound of our recordings.
I’m always keeping an ear out for new techniques and approaches and as such, I’ll always be a student of the guitar and music.. and life in general.
My guitar influences are plenty. Lets see…..in no particular order: Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian, Grant Green, John Scofield, Oz Noy, Steve Vai, Chet Atkins, Allan Holdsworth, Dave Gilmour, Eliot Easton, Andrés Segovia…it’s endless. So many great guitarists out there that you can grab ideas from.
How did you decide on a trio and Jonah and Matt to join you?
I’ve always liked the idea of a trio, but the traditional power trio (guitar, bass, drums) seemed typical. I wanted to see if I could find a keyboardist that could play left-hand bass, so we could have the sound of a quartet in a trio. I met Jonah Wei-Haas on a gig with another artist and asked him if he wanted to jam. Matt, who was already in the band at this time, and I met through a mutual friend. Once Jonah came in, I could feel there was some good energy, and we were able to jam and make some grooves up. Jonah is a great improviser, too, so this helps break up the solos and add to the flow. Both Matt and Jonah are incredible players, and I’m honored to share the stage with them.
What has the reception so far been to Robbery Inc and what has the music been described as by those who have given feedback?
The reception has really been great. It’s a great feeling when people that are hearing your music for the first time come up and say, “that was the best band all night”, or, “that was a killer set” and want to know more about us. We just played a gig at The Viper Room and a couple of Scottish dudes randomly walked in and caught our set. They found me afterwards and were telling me that Robbery Inc. needs to play King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow. Apparently, every major band (Oasis, Blur, Radiohead, STP, etc) has played there, and it’s the place you play at to become a famous band, so, yeah, we want to play there! Most of the time people say our music is great, and I can honestly say that we haven’t had any negative feedback, so I guess this is a good thing!
2018 will sell a full-length Robbery Inc album – musically how do you foresee the album taking place?
We’re working on the next batch of tunes at the moment. I like to record the songs in small batches as opposed to heading into the studio and doing them all at once. We’re still developing as a band and probably always will be, and I see the riffs being more aggressive and melodic. I want to incorporate some softer tunes as well, and experiment with different ways of singing, as I’m still searching for my voice. I want to get deeper with what I write about, lyrically, and most importantly, I want to say something meaningful and reflective of the time we’re living in.
You were in TRAPT for a few years- what was the most important musical lesson you received from that experience?
Musically speaking, TRAPT had lots of syncopated riffs so my rhythm playing got tighter and cleaner. I think what I got out of it mostly was the experience of playing on bigger stages and festivals. The first few shows on the Cruefest tour were intimidating; this was a 2 month tour with five bands, production crew, and security — and you’re seeing these people everyday. I had to learn how to interact with each one of them, and how to not overstep and keep boundaries. It’s a very exciting experience being on a big tour like that, but you have to maintain yourself and not go overboard.
OCT 2 – LOS ANGELES – HOTEL CAFE – ACOUSTIC SET
OCT 23 – LOS ANGELES – HARVARD & STONE
NOV 7 – NOV 12 – TORONTO – INDIE WEEK – 3 SHOWS
NOV 18 – NEW YORK CITY – BOWERY ELECTRIC