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One musician, six robots, all rock

"Captured! By Robots" -- which the Salt Lake Tribune described as "a gaggle of loud-mouthed robots kicking out surprisingly catchy tunes, most of which bash humanity in one form or another" -- will perform on Saturday, May 17 at 10 p.m. in La Sala de Puerto Rico.

"The thing that hooked me is that these 'bots aren't the animatronic type you'd find at Chuck E. Cheese or Disneyland," said MIT affiliate Kristin Forbes, who's producing the event in association with the Electronic Research Society.

Jason Vance, a San Francisco guitarist and keyboardist and the ensemble's lone human performer, started building his bionic bandmates out of bike chains and John Deere tractor gearshifts in 1996. Vance jokingly claims his creations took over the ensemble after installing a biocerebral chip into his brain, renaming him "JBOT" and enslaving him, often forcing him to perform.

"I built the robots because I couldn't get along with people," JBOT told the Boston Herald in 2001. But, he concluded, "I can't get along with robots either."

The band includes DRMBOT0110, who calls himself "the best robot drummer in the world" and claims that humans will be "replaced by my robotic children in the not-so-distant future." Seven-foot-tall guitar and bass player GTRBOT666 says humans are "nothing but pig garbage." Automatom, a self-replication of DRMBOT0110, advocates eliminating humans and "moving on with the Robotic Resistance."

The newest band member is the Headless Hornsmen, made of 25 truck and car air horns whose mission is to "blast your face off with its sheer power."

Amidst all this hostility towards man, there is The Ape Which Hath No Name (TAWHNN), a monkey with a tambourine on his head, created secretly by JBOT for some anthropoidal companionship and programmed to love unconditionally. "Captured! By Robots" claims The Son of The Ape Which Hath No Name (SOTAWHNN) was built by his father and shares his philosophy.

Opening the show is Neptune, a Boston band that builds their own instruments from scrap metal. "It really is 'build your own band night,'" said Hughes.

Tickets are $5. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. For more information, send e-mail to

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 14, 2003.

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