Brodie Band Tribute Page
Born: August 15th,
1977 in Scranton PA, USA
Van Wert is an all embracing, sensitive, outstanding cutting edge guitarist,
musician and composer. His music overflows with emotion and driven with
such passion taking you from a gentle babbling brook to an explosive mountain
top. Allen nicknamed 'Robot' has been credited as
having a very futuristic sounding
experimental style, exploding and breaking the limits of guitar based
music. (without the use of FX or any editing tricks). A composer guitarist
who isn't afraid to do it his way, a different way, revolutionizing music,
a true pioneer.
'ROBOT' VAN WERT
Allen aka 'Robot' has
taken some time-out to give me
a very interesting and generous interview.
Hi Allen to get an insight & understanding of your amazing gift
we must start at the beginning ~ Do you come from a musical family,
were your parents musical at all?
ROBOT: Yes, my dad played guitar and steel/slide guitar and both
sides of the family have alot of musicians...mostly country music. My
parents used to play ALOT of music on CDs and records while I was growing
up so I have alot of older influences in rock music.
TBT: So when did you first get interested in music?
ROBOT: I used to pretend to be in a band with my brother, cousin
and friends...everyone wanted to be the drummer cause they got to play
on the pots and pans loudly. We were really young and I remember putting
on little shows for family .. was alot of fun. I have a picture of me
playing guitar at age 3... just strumming and goofing off.
What a lovely start. Where you ever in a school band?
ROBOT: No.. I thought they were nerds so I didn't join in.. I did
however ask if they would allow guitar in their jazz band.. they said
no... makes no sense to me, but I do wish I played in the band. I used
to yodel and sing in chorus though... that was well before high school.
TBT: What music did you listen to back then?
ROBOT: Whatever my parents happened to play on the radio or CD
etc... then I began listening to rap then metal music and a little harder
edge as well as classical.
musicians influenced your early years
ROBOT: My dad...Grandfather...Pink Floyd...Peter Gabriel...Metallica...Megadeth...Michael
Jackson...Hendrix...Nuno...Satriani...and tons more..basically whatever
I heard. and Video game songs and FX in the games.
good some people just stick to 3 or 4 favorite's so tunneled and stunting.
Was the guitar your first instrument of interest or choice?
ROBOT: Well... I first took lessons on Piano... I remember coming
home from listening to a song on the radio in the car.. and I went to
the little casio keyboard and just played it all from memory. My Mom thought
it was amazing and had me take some lessons... The piano teacher got really
mad at me because I wasn't reading the notes and would rather play it
by ear. That didn't last long at all. Then I was given an electric guitar...
HORRIBLE.. it couldn't stay in tune.. the amp was really lame and blew
out every few minutes. I took some guitar lessons from a local jazz musician
who taught me to read music and forced me to use my Dad's huge acoustic
LOL.. So at what age did you start playing guitar?
ROBOT: I have pictures of me strumming at age 3... but who knows.
I remember really practicing hard around age 14 or 17 .. somewhere in
there is when I got serious.
What guitar did you start with?
ROBOT: An acoustic...Then a real crappy beginner guitar. Then I
was given an old Telecaster... then an Ibanez... then my dad made me a
guitar.. then a Jem.. Then a Schecter 7 string.. I use mainly the homemade
The homemade one sounds interesting we must get back to that in a bit
.. What sort of bands did you gig with when leaving school?
ROBOT: I gigged with a few bands while in school I believe... They
were usually into either classic rock.. like Eagles.. or 80s rock like
Bon Jovi or Winger etc. The cool thing was I had to learn alot of guitar
parts and solos for those bands. I think there were about 2 bands while
in school... and after... about 6 or 7. I played in completely different
genres too.. I love all music. I once did a jazz gig.. I showed up and
met the bassist 5 minutes before the show.. just me him and a drummer.
We just improvised completely.. no songs.. no set... it went over very
well was for an upper class business meeting..I only made 100 bucks..
but that's not bad at all for not having to learn any set list. Speaking
of which.. from the bands I've been in I probably learned well over 400
songs by now... That helps alot when writing and breaking rules. I know
what's been done and how.
TBT: Over 400 that's some achievement so much
music .. Did you like the live music scene?
ROBOT: I do and don't.. I love playing and stuff.. but I HATE setting
up and breaking down.. Then the long drive home etc. I wish I could just
.. tell us about it LOL. Now the guitar your Dad made .. that's sounds
fascinating, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Its dark walnut.. straight from a tree... was very hard to cut and took
many tries to get it all finished... Took about a year or so to complete.
Was my Dads first guitar... I'm surprised it works at all.. and amazed
it sounds so good. It has a warmoth neck and 3 pickups.. bridge is a semour
duncan.. neck is a stock gibson and middle is a fender lace sensor...
so I can get alot of real nice tone from it. The ROBOT sounds I do are
best done on this guitar.. I don't.. know why.. but it just sounds great
on it.. also blues stuff. I have a trem setter in the back from Hipshot
to keep the bridge stable during bends within held chords. I had the frets
all redone last year due to wear from playing it so much there were huge
dents in the frets. The people who did it for me did a super job. The
neck used to have problems with shifting out place from where its screwed
in... That has been corrected with some cardboard shims and glue... It's
one of a kind. It has a 5 way pickup selector and 2 switches.. one 3 way
for polarity.. and one that does nothing.. LOL yet.. I wanted to put a
chorus inside there or an acoustic sim.. didn't do it yet. The 5 way is
wired wrong.. but it has a real cool sound I like that way.. I made sure
the guitar shop didn't change it while refretting.,. cause they called
and said..."this think is wired all wrong.. " lol.. I told them
DON'T.. TOUCH IT! its just how I want it. I have a tone knob for the middle
pickup separate from the bridge and neck tone, this allows a real wide
range of tones for clean and warm leads.
that's awesome, sounds awesome on your CD too. Your Dad must be an amazing
fella. What started you composing?
ROBOT: I used to "remix" rap songs I recorded on a tape
deck from the tv.. and random things I recorded...I made up this cool
method where I would use 2 different tape decks both with a dub function..
and would create an echo by offsetting the start time on one.. and would
dub it back and forth.. was alot of fun.
TBT: Is there any person or persons that may have
influenced your composing?
ROBOT: Joe Satriani... because I learned almost all of his songs
and analyzed them all day like a weirdo. At one point friends called me
baby Joe cause I sounded so much like him.. I also listened to classical
music and that gives me a really unique perspective in a basic rock genre.
Also.. this is going to sound really weird.. but, often when I'm playing
guitar.. usually alone.. I will have a window open, or can hear the wind
outside... and when I play something really, really pure and completely
feel it.. the wind would blow harder.. and into the window at me. I'm
a scientific thinking person and don't believe in alot of the ghost stories
and things.. But honestly.. it happened... often.
TBT: How brilliant.. such inner intensity..
so I must ask is there anything that inspires your composing?
ROBOT: yes, everything. It is good and bad.. because if I listen
to music out of genre I find myself kind of bending my writing to that
style some. And that's bad when your attempting to stay in one marketable
style of music... because If people are expecting guitar based music..
And my CD has me rapping..it doesn't make them happy usually.
TBT: What journey has brought you to this cutting edge you are now on?
ROBOT: 17 hour days of practice and or playing with other musicians.
I have an insane drive to learn music and be the music.. So it was the
natural thing to do. I know what sounds like what over what.. And what
progressions yield whatever result.. But you come to realize.. It isn't
so much a science as it is an art.. a live art.. you give feeling to each
bit of sound... its unique. I got to playing the weird ROBOT things from
having too many people tell me I sound like so and so.. Or I don't.. have
my own thing... So I started taking all the little weird things I did
in private on guitar.. And started developing them into this.. thing.
I play guitar on chat rooms online sometimes.. And people who first heard
me said.. That's a MIDI file.. Or its not guitar...etc... so I played
along with this idea.. And made the name ROBOT... then went back in the
chat rooms and didn't talk.. I would only reply with a "0110101100"
LOL generic binary code... I used to actually program computers and make
my own video games on the Amiga system. I wrote alot of music on those
as well and did some sound processing things.
TBT: LOL .. Yes you also musically back video
games can you explain how this happened?
ROBOT: I read about this guy named Jesper Kyd who was also into
old Amiga video game/demo things.. he used to make music for them.. in
tracker etc. He now composes music for big name game titles .. sometimes
employing a big Hungarian orchestra...well... I sent him my CD to have
his opinion.. Then we talked on the phone.. And he liked it alot.. We
agreed to do some collaborating on his and my stuff... He emails me tracks
and I play the guitar to it and send it back... its really easy and fun..
I will be on a sound track for a new game coming out soon on the x box
2 I believe, and all the new consoles.
TBT: What games have you worked on?
ROBOT: So far that's undisclosed info...somewhat even to me.. lol
TBT: We will have
to start looking at the credits on our games, good luck in that part of
your career. What do you believe to be
your bigger hi-lites & achievements so far?
ROBOT: Nothing really.. Just making music and getting to be myself
musically. People often compare me to the other guys making their own
music..Buckethead.. Mattias.. Ron Thal... but honestly.. I was doing it
long before I heard of them... plus Its different.. we are all doing different
things.. BUT because we all sound "weird", people assume we're
all the same or something. I was told I was really Buckethead so many
times. Its rather upsetting.. but I guess its better than not being heard.
TBT: Tell them all you are allergic to feathers
LOL. I think however,
you are being a little modest
about your achievements from what I have read on your website and listening
to your CD. Which brings us to your debut CD.. how many of your guitars
do you use on it?
ROBOT: 2...the homemade.. and the jem
and how many on any single track?
ROBOT: for rhythm.. I usually double and dead pan them for power..
lead is one .. sometimes a harmony part... the ROBOT sounds are all one
guitar.. almost always the homemade one.
TBT: Do you mix the other music and sounds in yourself
or are any other musicians involved
ROBOT: I do all of it.. mixing mastering.. programming.. editing..
its alot of work.. actually 80% of my time on it is working on the drum
programming and synth stuff.
TBT: You say your next CD will be more technical,
hope there will be plenty of your guitaring on the tracks???
ROBOT: I'm planning on it being very extreme... alot of technical
guitar.. basically so I don't have to do it again LOL.. I figure.. once
I do a shred type CD no-one will mind me playing more melodic things.
Right now I don't have any guitar written for it... Just alot of really
cool electronic grooves and progression ideas. I'm a jazz writer usually..
meaning I write the progression.. And melody comes from it.. although
on the last CD.. the song Boundless was melody first.. I sang it all in
one take then learned what I sang on the guitar and wrote some progressions
to fit it.
I will look forward to it being finished. Do you see yourself playing
with a live band again?
ROBOT: I was recently.. but not my own music... I would love to..
It's just finding the right group of people to play it.
TBT: Yes I can understand that, so what are
you wanting or hoping for in your future musical career?
ROBOT: Stability.. where I can write and record and not have to
worry about money. I'm also planning to revolutionize music... or to help.
Every now & again a musical genius will along
and do that, you are certainly on that cutting edge.
What music and who do you enjoy and listen to now a days?
ROBOT: I listen to alot of Lionel Richie and Seal.. some Diana
Krall and jazz/classical radio...I tend to not listen to guitarists as
much as I used to.
What do you think of today's modern music scene?
ROBOT: I think its filled with people who want to be famous and
not people who want to be the music and create something great.. all they
do is copy what sells and attempt to fill a void in their personality
by clinging on to some vague rebel attitude that is lame in my opinion.
To them its more about looking cool than being a musician.. the radio
and tv is now only about 10% musicians.. And 90% actors. Its very strange.
I thought it was changing .. but its just seeming to get worse.. alot
of people blame the band Nirvana... honestly.. I loved their music and
put it right up there with the Beatles. It just feels like music to me..
you know.. it isn't all image and bullshit.. I can tell they really loved
it. Its something special.. also.. if that sparked 80s guitar music to
go down hill.. it isn't their fault.. Its the general public.
Well said .. alot of your techniques are unique ... without giving
any secrets away have you any tips for other guitarists?
ROBOT: I think the ROBOT sound has to do with subtle ways I play
more than any specific lick or musical idea. Basically.. Its playing things
that people aren't used to hearing on a guitar, like.. the same note being
activated more than one time in a row in a way people wouldn't expect,
or using no vibrato.. or using a very weird vibrato... another thing to
mention is this.. I don't use any reverb.. or Delay.. Its completely dry
tone with alot of gain and uses the neck pickup often. No chorus flange
or phaser... I used to use a slow gear thing.. where the notes wouldn't
play until 2 millaseconds after I hit them.. but it didn't make the sound
much different.. And I never considered it an effect.. I don't use it
anymore anyway. I use 2 or more fingers on the picking hand to tap and
band and slide notes around... basically things that cannot be picked
at the speed I do them at sound cool.. I was once trying to do a lick
from pacman when he dies... and I couldn't quite get it right by picking
it.. so.. I used 2 fingers on each hand to play the part.. VERY fast..
And it sounded so weird, and many ideas came from that thought.. doing
things that people aren't used to hearing from the instrument. I don't
use any devices or objects to do it.. just my hands.. I recently have
been doing the same things straight into a mesa triple rectifier without
touching a processor.. And they sound just as cool as using the gain setting
in my gp-100 roland processor. so it's not about any fx or tricks.. just
doing things differently.
.. so have you any advice for the young teenage guitarists?
ROBOT: Escape in the music and learn theory like you were the one
inventing it. Make it your own thing.. don't assume something a book says
is correct...make it pass your own ideas and filter it first.. that way
you will remember it forever and will completely understand it. Also practice
more than you feel is normal and buy and study the music from guitar based
was awesome ~ Thankyou Allen 'Robot' Van Wert for giving us your time
for this interview, giving us such an insight & sharing your thoughts
with us in such detail.
All good luck for your future . . TBT aka Beverley
album can be purchased at
This album is not only full innovative techneques and bags of soul, it
is so tantalizing, I have listened to it for hours and hours over time
and I heard something new each time. To fully appreciate and understand
his tracks the whole album is a must, the samples do not do this talented
musician full justice.
BRODIE BAND TRIBUTE PAGE]
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