March 15, 2019 Interview – Brandon Robbins of The Moth & The Flame
After a much needed break, the Alternative Rock band known as The Moth & The Flame returned on February 1st with their third studio album, Ruthless. Shedding themselves the pressure of being a part of a major record label, Ruthless is one of their most personally honest records to date and a direct reflection of the members lives over the past few years.
Currently climbing charts with their latest single, “The New Great Depression,” they are gearing up for an extensive spring tour that is guaranteed to excite fans. Feeling rejuvenated, Lead Vocalist and Guitarist Brandon Robbins sat down to talk the journey of the band, his personal struggles, learning from helping others in need, the work behind Ruthless, plus more.
Cryptic Rock – The Moth & The Flame has been established now for over eight years. In that time, you have released three albums, toured, and had success on the radio. Briefly tell us, through the ups and downs, what has the journey been like for the band.
Brandon Robbins – It’s hard to sum up eight years concisely. Pursuing your dreams with a group of friends is a uniquely rewarding experience. It’s a bit surreal, you look back and some of the memories are just unbelievable. Like, “I can’t believe we actually did this or that,” and it’s amazing. Then, at the same time, it’s the hardest thing ever because it’s music, and music is passionate and emotionally vulnerable and you have to put yourself out there and be OK with being ripped apart.
Cryptic Rock – Those are all some very valid points that the average person may not always think about. We alluded to ups and downs, because we all go through them. You actually donated a kidney to a venue owner in your hometown who had given the band their start. That is a pretty inspiring story! How important was it to you to be able to help this individual, and most importantly, how are they today?
Brandon Robbins – Before the transplant, I knew it was really important for me to be able to help Corey and now looking back it’s especially clear to me that I needed that experience. It taught me a lot about what is really important in life. Corey is doing really well, we just celebrated two years post transplant in December with a Thom Yorke concert.
Cryptic Rock – That is great to hear. You had also taken a little time to yourself to recharge and deal with your own inner struggles. Would you say you are in a healthier place at this point, and what ultimately helped you get over the hump?
Brandon Robbins – Yeah, after the surgery we had a lot of down time which I really welcomed. The down time really made me face some of my own demons. I had no idea at the time but I was about to take on some really difficult inner struggles that would essentially be the blueprint for our album Ruthless. I’ve had depression since I was seventeen and I’ve always just managed it. But then it got worse, much much worse, and so I decided I needed to really get control of this thing and happily I was able to do that. Now I’m in a position to help others with the same struggle.
I’m obviously really open about my experience with depression and I think that makes some people uncomfortable but it’s really healthy for everyone to talk about it. Eventually it won’t phase people at all, that’s the goal, destigmatize it completely. I’m in a really good place at the moment and I feel that I’ve won that battle for now. I don’t think it’s any one thing that gets you through, it’s a lot of little things everyday.
Cryptic Rock – Well it is great that you were able to face those inner struggles and overcome them. That really leads us directly to the band’s latest record, Ruthless. Clearly some of these personal themes are intertwined into the music and lyrics on the album. That said, what was the writing and recording process like?
Brandon Robbins – It can be a bit scary trying to be vulnerable on an album but that’s what we wanted to do and tried to do. Our last album, Young & Unafraid (2016), was written while we were on a major label and of course a lot of the clichés of being on a big label are true, and it can affect the writing process. We didn’t have to deal with any of that for Ruthless, so it was liberating for us to write so fearlessly and so removed from outside pressures.
Cryptic Rock – The album came out very well and is enjoyable to listen to. Back in December, you released a movie-like, little music video for the song “The New Great Depression.” What is the concept behind the video?
Brandon Robbins – Short and sweet, it’s just about recognizing others. Recognizing we all have monsters and hopefully being more empathetic.
Cryptic Rock – That is the truth, we certainly need to be empathetic toward others. The album is a great mix of synth and guitars musically. Was this intentional, or did it all seem to just melt together when you began writing and recording?
Brandon Robbins – We had a really good idea of how we wanted the record to sound going into it. A lot of that was informed by the writing process, and finding what was best for the songs. At the same time we always keep an open mind during recording so that we don’t close the door on inspiration.
Cryptic Rock – Right, you do not want to box yourself in. Those who have heard your music would clearly here a UK Rock influence on your sound. Is that an accurate assessment, and, if so, what are some artists that influence you?
Brandon Robbins – I think that’s a fair assessment, even though we have influences from all over the board. I always appreciated songs with strong vocalists and vocal melodies which UK Rock has plenty of. Travis is a favorite of mine, the Cranberries would be another.
Cryptic Rock – Two very good bands! The Moth & The Flame has some shows coming up in April before more extensive national touring in May. How excited are you to get on the road with the new album?
Brandon Robbins – Very excited. There’s a great energy with the new material, it’s always nice for us to experience the songs in that setting with others.
Cryptic Rock – Well, fans should get out and catch the shows. Last question. Beyond music, Cryptic Rock also covers movies, particularly in the Horror and Sci-Fi genre. If you are a fan of these genres, do you have an favorite films in them, and why?
Brandon Robbins – Big Sci-Fi fan. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is one of my all-time favorites. Legendary soundtrack, beautiful cinematography, and HAL. By the way, our song “Red Rising” is about Pierce Brown’s Sci-Fi novel with the same name, which I hope gets adapted to a film or TV series.