Welcome home, Three-Brained Robot
By: Katei Cranford
Reanimator Records presents a visit from Three-Brained Robot for a show with Bubblegum Octopus, and Food Lion, Aug. 11 at Dye Pretty Salon in Winston-Salem.
Three-Brained Robot is the brainchild of Sam Martin, an abrasively charismatic Greensboro-native and performance artist, now living in New Orleans, who finds inspiration through strange events in everyday life, B-movies, and the occasional YouTube binge.
Theatrics being the keystone of the Three-Brained Robot experience, Martin’s shows run in spastic blasts of improv-comedy and electronic music wrapped in a package of “demonic karaoke.”
Martin credits high-school theater as a surprising springboard for his unique creativity.
“I was worried about finding a similar outlet in the real world after graduation,” Martin recalled. “But then I was introduced to DIY shows.”
After that, his creative cup runneth over.
From 2009 to 2014, Martin was an unrivaled local booking force, opening the Triad up to of Montreal, Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt, and hundreds of acts spanning the DIY music world.
When spaces like CFBG and Lyndon Street started closing their doors to bands, Martin and his roommates at the TYP Haus kept the entertainment lines open with living-room shows and their “DIT (do-it-together)” concept. Most nights, they played host to hefty crowds and killer groups from around the globe. It was a magical two years on Warren Street.
“What I previously wanted to see was a mid-sized DIY venue that purposely booked crossover shows,” Martin said. “I thought one day I would create that myself, but I chose my own personal journey instead.”
That journey took Three-Brained Robot on tours across the country and overseas.
“Over the years, I’ve learned how to implement my big Ideas into a smaller, easier to transport, model,” Martin recollected.
“Looking back, I feel like I spent way more time being a promoter in NC,” he said. “I let Three-Brained Robot be more of an afterthought than I should have.”
Back in the states, his focus revolves around establishing himself primarily as a performer, playing alongside groovy New Orleanian musicians such as Quintron and Miss Pussycat, Fatplastik, Proud Father, and Gland.
“It was a hard transition at first because I was so used to just setting up a show if I wanted to play one,” Martin said of the shift from promoting to performing. “I book maybe one or two shows a month in NOLA,” he added, “I can’t imagine going back to booking shows all the time.”
In its infancy, Three-Brained Robot was a raucous act with Martin at the helm, flailing under strobe-lit parachutes, armed with masked-antics and good times (and the occasional parade out of CFBG, literally spilling the show into Chapman Street). These days, for all his wackiness, Martin exudes a scattered sophistication. Boasting an array of enthusiasm and tenacity, his force remains noticeably absent from the current Triad music climate.
In the age of being weird-for-clicks, Martin is a legitimate strange-ranger of the truest order. Three-Brained Robot understands the thrill of embracing the unusual.
“l love experiencing people’s reactions to how I’ve twisted everyday situations,” he said of his audience.
Martin’s act wavers the avenues between music and visual art, while initially favoring physicality over lyrics or melodies.
“But in the past few years, the balance has teetered,” he said. “Sometimes I’m on more of a songwriting kick, or I just get uninspired to make performance pieces. And vice versa.”
To his songwriting credit, “High Point” is a helluva tune, even if the concept fails to land for folks unfamiliar with the Furniture Capital.
“I only perform ‘High Point’ when in North Carolina,” Martin explained. “I’ve tried it other places, and it’s difficult to get the same excitement I get locally.”
“The music community in the Triad is this small warm creature,” he described. “I feel like people here are really open-minded, cause if they weren’t, I don’t think Three-Brained Robot would have lasted.”
As an act, Three-Brained Robot continues to evolve in tandem with Martin’s growth as a human being–a thoughtful, productive artist beneath a delightful veneer of fake-blood and nightmare puppetry. The man is a consummate performer…and a maniac.
Who knows what he’s got in store for this show?
Find out Saturday night from 8 to 11 p.m. with Bubblegum Octopus, and Food Lion at Dye Pretty Salon (621 N. Trade St.) in Winston-Salem.
Katei Cranford is a GSO rock-n-roller and Triad music nerd. She hosts Mostly Local Monday, a radio show that runs like a mixtape of bands playing NC the following week. Catch her on WUAG 103.1FM or via live stream at www.wuag.net.