"You can't be shy. you can't be scared.".
Creativity is simple: Los Angeles-based brothers Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei--aka The Bots--are at The FADER FORT in downtown Austin, Texas. Just before their raucous set on the FORT's main stage, they perform a minimal, warm take on their tune "No One Knows" inside a brand-new 2014 Mazda3. "This is a song I wrote a couple years ago," says Mikaiah as the pair hops into the backseat. "When I was finding myself--when we were becoming the musicians we are today."
Mikaiah starts singing and strumming his acoustic guitar, while Anaiah whacks the single drum positioned between his legs on the car floor. The resulting sound is surprisingly full and rich for such a sparse setup. As a band of two, the Lei brothers have never had a problem making a little sound like a lot.
Courage takes practice: Mikaiah and Anaiah have been recording and performing since they were 12 and 15, respectively. "It was nerve-racking at first," Mikaiah says of playing live in those early clays. "I used to have terrible stage fright. At one of our earliest gigs, 1 cried and had our mom drive us home."
But now, years later, the courage is innate. "When we started playing more and more shows, it just became a natural thing," Anaiah explains. "You can't be shy. You can't be scared," Mikaiah adds. "I just lose myself."
Conviction is loudest: On their long-awaited full-length debut, Pink Palms, The Bots have begun to explore the darker, unvarnished edges of pop music. There's nothing precocious about the record's first single, "All I Really Want," a zigzagging, anxious jammer that pairs the listless angst of classic punk with the scuzzy garage-rock sounds The Bots have been making since before they were in high school. The record most definitely channels the uniquely unpredictable feeling of adolescence, but it's also filled with the sort of conviction that comes with practice, patience and years of being professional musicians. The Bots might not be grown-up, but their aesthetic--loud, fast, and streamlined--has definitely come of age.