September 2021 - TURN IT UP: Robson Guy
By Teresa Robinson
A dedicated musician since the age of 12, Robson Guy has been a lover of music since he was a kid. A player in at least nine different bands, his inspiration for music is eclectic, allowing for different events wherever he plays. We’re happy to to talk with him about his music and future goals.
Where did the name Iconoclast come from?
I’ve always been a questioner, as long as I can remember. Getting in trouble as a child for “arguing” and asking questions. Often interested in challenging the truths of established beliefs, even if they’re controversial, “sacred”, inappropriate, or uncomfortable. As I’ve grown older, studied more, ruminated more, experienced more, my positions on science and spirituality have evolved. On social media, I became more outspoken; my iconoclastic posts started stirring a lot of pots and ruffling feathers. Many friends, coworkers, and strangers started to become very offended at how dark and snarky my sense of humor, criticisms, or exploration of thought would go, especially regarding religion. Some would constantly report me and block me. I just love good satire, sarcasm, truth-seeking, and comedy. Now reflecting, I actually consider most of my views and posts rather mild when you look at the entirety of all the content and extremism out there. I honestly probably don’t even deserve that pseudonym.
How long have you made music your focus?
Approximately 23 years. Since I was 12 or 13. My first band won our Manzano High School Battle of the Bands when I was 14. I started performing in the bars in downtown Albuquerque when I was 17. Haven’t stopped since. It was all I wanted to do. I’ve never been able to make it a full-time gig, always working and going to school as well, but I’ve always prioritized music.
When did you fall in love with music?
My passion really ignited when I was around 12 or 13 years-old. I was watching Rage Against The Machine’s live performance of “Know Your Enemy”. After it was over, I immediately ran and grabbed my bass guitar. I found their CD case in my sister’s room, put the album on, and started reading the lyrics. I had to know more. I had to play more. Prior to this point in my life, I was really only exposed to Gospel music. My sisters and father had a fairly extensive CD collection, ranging from classic rock, rock, 80’s and 90’s pop, 90’s gangster rap, hip-hop, White Zombie, to Van Morrison and Tina Turner. I had so much to catch up on. I would start going through their CD collections while absorbing as much as I could from the local radio stations (usually 107.9 The Edge) and building my own CD collection.
How many bands have you been a part of?
Total? The bands that professionally performed and were more involved, in this order, 9.5:
Once Misguided/Afterpill, Transfriction, The Pharynx Gift, Willy J and the Storytellers, Stem Ivory, The Horned God, Illumina A.D., Dead On Point Five, L’uomo Nero, Ashes of Jupiter, and Boss DJ—Sublime Tribute Band.
Who are your musical influences?
So many. Countless. Rock, Pop, Metal, Ska, 90’s Alternative, 70’s Rock, Reggae, Grunge, Hip-Hop, Punk, Folk, Funk, Classical, Jazz, Soundtracks, Scores, you name it. It all started the most with Rage Against The Machine. Also, One Minute Silence and Guano Apes. Then Green Day, The Offspring, The Black Keys, CAKE, Alien Ant Farm, Depeche Mode, NIN, Beastie Boys, Metallica, Pantera, Black Sabbath, Kyuss, CCR, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Doors, RUSH, Mudvayne, Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Violent Femmes, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Incubus, Sublime, 311, Sade, Bob Marley, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, John Coltrane, Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten, Flea, Les Claypool, Maynard James Keenan, Ani DiFranco, Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, City and Colour, Reel Big Fish, Primus, Tool, A Perfect Circle, Fair to Midland…
Tell me who Robson Guy was as a child?
Rambunctious, curious, clumsy, and rebellious with a kind heart. An inquisitive, idealist and unintentional troublemaker. The weirdo, smart-ass, class-clown who would eat almost anything, write poems and pluck flowers for girls. Too much energy and probably had “ADHD”. Loved soccer and animals, catching reptiles and drawing, playing video games, roughhousing, and joking around, climbing rocks and things, jumping off roofs, skateboarding, surfing, biking, and snowboarding. I wanted to be a stuntman, a cartoonist, or a veterinarian. One neighbor's friend's parents wouldn’t allow me into their house. They thought I was too rowdy or wild and would break their decorations or something. They were probably right.
What is your vision in music?
Have fun with it. Enjoy the F@*# outta it. Create something beautiful, ugly, interesting, or honest. Make people tap their feet, mosh in the pit, sing or dance. Make magic with tones and time, stomp the stage, and generate unique experiences with my bandmates and the audience. Provoke thought and enhance someone’s day for a moment if possible. Help others when and if I can. Sometimes, it’s purely raw self-expression and therapy; a rhythm pours out of me and I let go of everything. Channel the stress, pain, anger, or frustrations of life into it. When I was younger, I thought there’d be nothing better than to live on the road with my good buddies, seeing the world and playing music.
It also depends on the project. Know your role. Each project can have many different personalities, styles, schedules, and dynamics with various ranges of willingness, compromise, individual and collective goals. Are we booking a brewery and playing covers? Do we have a tour van? Are we creating an epic, original concept album? Do we plan to record and where? Who’s creating the art for merch? What can we realistically afford? Do we expect to get paid and who requires how much? How do we achieve these goals? What’s the plan? Or is the plan no plan?
My role of supporting bassist is generally my strong suit. My approach is to compliment the songs, listen to what everyone else is doing then give it the right feel, groove, and energy. Bring something good to the table. Stay in the pocket, on the spine, but add some flavor. Modify as needed or requested, play less or more, more funk, less funk, add distortion, a different scale, pretty or dirty, etc. If I’m writing the song, I usually start with a riff, a chord, or some lyrics. An idea will pop into my head or while I’m practicing. I start to hear the drums and the beat, and a painting of sounds begins to brew in my mind. I’ll throw the overall idea to my bandmates and see what they think and what they wanna do with it, adding layers, accents, and textures. Let it evolve. Or they’re like, “Yeah, that sucks. No.” And we scrap it and move on.