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Coachella: The Bots click into success

Pair who grew up in Glendale will rub shoulders with the best in music at Coachella.

April 11, 2014|By Steve Appleford,
  • Brothers Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei of the Bots grew up in Glendale and are playing at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival starting this weekend.
Brothers Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei of the Bots grew up in Glendale… (Photo by Steve Appleford )

The Bots are as surprised as anyone about how things have gone with their little band. A few years ago, brothers Anaiah and Mikaiah Lei were a couple of Glendale kids who just wanted to rock 'n' roll, and called themselves the Bots. It turned out they were good.

The band began as a trio playing "indie acoustic folk," but evolved into a euphoric garage rock duo by the time the Lei brothers were signed up to play on the Vans Warped Tour in 2011, bouncing onstage to a sound of bristling guitar and drums in white shirts with black ties. There were some big names on that tour (Paramore, Against Me!, Gym Class Heroes, etc.), but a lot of new fans and fellow players left the dates talking about the melodic punk 'n' blues unfolding daily from two Glendale kids on a small side stage.

Last month, they played nine shows at the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas. This week they're onstage at Coachella.


"We started the band in high school just to jam. We didn't think we'd be getting professional gigs and be flown out to gigs and play massive festivals," says singer-guitarist Mikaiah, 20. "We're so blessed to have what we have. If we work hard, it gets better and better. I'm excited to ride the roll coaster all the way to the end."

On the duo's most recent EP, last year's "Sincerely Sorry," the songs rock and thrash like the Black Keys at full throttle. On the opening song, "5.17," drummer Anaiah pounds a frantic beat to his brother's anxious guitar and bass, as electronic blips and beats weave in-between. "I Like Your Style" collides guitar modes, from Hendrix-like flailing to a piston-thrashing punk rhythm. The Bots are currently in a Hollywood studio with producer Justin Warfield (She Wants Revenge) finishing a new album.

The Coachella Music and Arts Festival is one of the most coveted stages in popular music, and the Bots are playing both weekends on the second stage at the desert venue. They've had to get used to that kind of attention.

At the South By Southwest Music Festival last month, the Bots spent time mingling with the likes of Usher, Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz, the Good, the Bad and the Queen, etc.), Grammy-winning producer Pharrell Williams, and other rising and falling artists of rock and hip-hop. "I want to meet Rick Ross. That would be sick," says Mikaiah.

Albarn is producing tracks with the band. So is Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner.

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