Guitar player Alexander Alcantar and drummer Jeff King always wanted to start their own band. They had tried out several singers, but nothing was clicking the way they wanted. One night, Alcantar’s wife, Melissa, went out for drinks and karaoke with one of her husband’s coworkers, Lynn Carpenter. After Carpenter belted out “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper, Melissa went home, woke her husband up and said, “Lynn is going to sing in your band. It’s going to happen.” It’s been a little over a year, and the group, Prince Robot, is set to release its first album, Post-Apocalyptic Dancehall Blues, in January.
The members of Prince Robot describe themselves as junk rockers. They like to make as much racket as they can with as few people as possible. Speed is key, too. According to King, he doesn’t ever play slow songs because it makes him uncomfortable. The band pulls its inspiration from a range of influences including ’50s surf rock and punk—and Bikini Kill front woman Kathleen Hanna’s ability to scream in key, according to Carpenter.
“For me, it’s the guitar,” said Alcantar. “I really love the electric guitar, and like what is possible with it. It’s just such an amazing invention. I love Dick Dale and stuff like that.”
The band, even long before Carpenter arrived, was set on not having a bass player. Alcantar said that he’s been playing with King for so long that only they can understand each other’s musical language. A bass player would not have been compatible. Plus, some of Alcantar’s biggest inspirations are no-bass bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Japandroids.
“We all have our own personal touch on it, and I think it’s all very evident because there are so few people in the band, so the arrangements are very obvious,” said Alcantar. “Sometimes if it skews one way or, another it’ll start to feel off-kilter.”
Of the nine tracks on the new album, no two sound the same. One features extended guitar feedback while another has a funky surf beat to the drums. According to Carpenter, lyrics are inspired by everything from politics to personal weirdness to a performance at Shea’s Tavern. Carpenter also said she goes off to write the song lyrics and usually comes back despising them and never wanting to see them again. According to Alcantar and King, the more Carpenter hates the lyrics she writes, the better they’re going to be.
“I write poetry, but it’s very freestyle, non-rhyming poetry,” said Carpenter. “I was like, ’I can’t write songs. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. What the hell am I doing with my life?’ So, I just kind of came up with something.”
The bandmtes continued to write songs all the way until the end of their recording at Dogwater Studios with Rick Spagnola. They finalized their song “Mess” during their three-day session and didn’t even have an ending for it until Spagnola told them to just run through the song to see what would happen.
“I actually made a mistake at the end by stopping early, and I was like, ’Oh we’re still going,’ so I start going again, and it’s on the album,” said King, “We were like, ’I guess that’s how the song goes.’”
According to Spagnola, the album sounded like post-apocalyptic B-52s. That—in combination with Alcantar’s love for music you can dance to—led to calling the album Post-Apocalyptic Dancehall Blues.
He figures Prince Robot would be the ideal bar band in the post-apocalypse.