The ungodly history of
T H E D R O B O T I C S
Part one: the origin story.
As the legends tell it, a mad scientist named Yacub constructed the Drobotics out of spare parts stolen from earlier, better bands. The hands of Brian Jones and the loins of Phil Lynott were crudely affixed to the torso of a genetically modified gorilla to form lead guitarist Olin Valby. The neck wattles of Mama Cass were wrapped around the liver of Janis Joplin, and singer Sharon Lesko was born. A few cells from the lining of the Big Bopper's stomach were irradiated and, after repeated hormone injections, grew into bassist Andrew Hall. Rhythm guitarist Michael A. Charles, vocalist Karryn Duhaime, and cellist Raelene Brodie all sprouted from a fig tree that had been fertilised with the contents of Jim Morrison's bladder.
Kept in fluid-filled glass cylinders until the age of twenty-three, the six musicians' only contact with the outside world was in the form of an endlessly looped recording of the Monkees' Daydream Believer which played in the laboratory day and night. Meanwhile, having run out of spare rock-star parts, Yacub set about constructing a mechanical drummer for his band.
Made chiefly from aluminum foil and mufflers found along the highway outside his secret lab, Yacub's robot began slowly to take shape. After years of painstaking trial-and-error, while the flesh-and-blood band-members incubated quietly in their cylinders, the scientist managed to piece together an automaton who could not only keep time, but could sort of play the banjo, as well as cook and keep the house clean. This hulking metallic beast he dubbed "D-ROBOT" (short for "drummer robot").
Released from their cylinders, the six musicians began immediately to bond with their robot friend, while practising endlessly under the tutelage of the tone-deaf but musically ambitious Yacub. After six months, they were able to play one song, a three-chord dirge called Guttural Moaning. After an additional six months, they could play Knockin' on Heaven's Door. By the end of their second year of daily rehearsal, they could get through most of Stairway to Heaven, except for the time change, which they faked.
But all this rehearsal was making them tense and bitter. D-ROBOT, especially, would wail and hurl his drum kit at Yacub when forced to play Bad Moon Rising for the fiftieth time. Finally, after a particularly tense practice session in which Yacub had criticised D-ROBOT for his overreliance on the cowbell, the mechanical monster lost his temper. He grabbed the mad scientist by the neck and with one tug of his mighty hydraulic arms, tore the skin right off the old man. Yacub died, the legends say, screaming, "You'll never be as big as Loverboy!"
The seven members of the band packed up their instruments and loaded them into the back of Yacub's wood-panelled station wagon. Not knowing where they were or where they could go, they decided to head south; and the highway fortuitously led them out of the wilderness and to the city of Saskatoon, where several of them soon found work in the grocery industry, while the others more sensibly decided to get an education. D-ROBOT, attempting to blend in with the human race, wore Yacub's preserved, well-moisturised face over his own metallic face, took the first name "Dean", and became a highly successful slumlord. Under Dean D-Robot's leadership, the band continued to practice by night, honing their skills for the inevitable day when they would unleash their awesome musical powers in order to take over the world.
Part two: their erratic career.
Using the proceeds from D-Robot's slumlording, and with the generous support of the Canadian Department of Heritage, the newly-christened Drobotics were able to record their first demo, an anti-racist novelty number called Daddy's in the Klan (Don't burn no crosses!). Released to radio, it unexpectedly went to number twenty-two on the Canadian country charts. The Department of Heritage deciding that there was sufficient interest in the septet to warrant investing in a full-length album, D-Robot lured the other members of the band into his basement, locked them in, and said they would be freed only when they had written a dozen good songs. After seven months and repeated pleas by the band for access to a bathroom, or at least a bucket with a handle, the Drobotics emerged from the basement and were shuttled directly to a recording studio, where they laid down the four originals, and eight T-Rex ripoffs, that would become Encyclopaedia Mechanistica, the band's first album.
Encyclopaedia was released to the general public with great fanfare, including an unfortunate, traffic-snarling parade down Saskatoon's Warman Road, and a forty-foot Dean D-Robot-shaped balloon that floated above the riverbank until the city's birdwatching community demanded its removal. The album itself sped from out of nowhere to thirty-fifth position on the Canadian pop music charts, then descended just as speedily back to nowhere. The band's choice of lead single, a banjo-driven remake of Styx's Mr. Roboto featuring a rap cameo by Bruno Gerussi of Beachcombers fame, might have had something to do with the album's quick failure. But with their second single, a wan faux-reggae follow-up to Daddy's in the Klan entitled (Child abuse is) Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!, the Drobotics' obituary was as good as written. The Department of Heritage withdrew its support and demanded the return of its entire $500 investment.
The embarrassment was total. Karryn, Olin, and Sharon all fled town, seeking a new locale in which to reestablish their careers. Andrew slunk back to the grocery store, begging for reinstatement. Michael found he was unable to afford a gun with which to commit suicide; instead he found employment in, and was soon fired from, an adult video store. Raelene alone retained optimism, as she had avoided the critical savaging that had greeted the other members of the band. She signed a separate deal to provide background music for audio books. Her mournful flute accompaniment can be heard on Pierre Berton's reading of his bestselling Niagara.
But most devastated by the band's failure was the Drobotics' namesake, Dean D-Robot. Vowing vengeance against the human race which had given him life and then spurned him, he retreated into Saskatchewan's northlands and lived a life of solitude among the forest creatures, occasionally venturing as far south as La Ronge to mutilate a fisherman or vandalise an illegally-parked recreational vehicle. And it is said that sometimes at night, you can hear his tormented cry echoing across Athabasca Lake: "Am I a man...or a monster?!"
|<< return to index|