Replicator was an American noise rock band from Oakland, California, United States. The band consisted of Conan Neutron (electric guitar/vocals/tape deck operation), Ben Adrian (bass guitar/vocals/keyboard), and Chris Bolig (drums). The band was occasionally joined by Todd Grant on rhythm guitar for live performances in later years.
The band members were advocates of the DIY punk ethic, as popularized by bands such as Fugazi and The Minutemen. Replicator started as a bay area Indie rock band of little distinction before finding their signature sound, often compared to bands such as Shellac, The Jesus Lizard, Steel Pole Bathtub and The Melvins. The band had multiple songs influenced by literary works, including those of Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, Philip K. Dick and Neal Stephenson. Largely ignored both the mainstream and underground music world, their irreverent attitude, unconventional attitude and "cleverness" won them over a very small but dedicated fanbase, including a handful of famous fans, including comedian Patton Oswalt and comic book author Warren Ellis.
Replicator had a sound based on unusual and urgent time signatures, dissonance, repetitive heavy rhythms, an often angular guitar sound, and Neutron and Adrian's urgent, sometimes dueling vocals. The songs did not have traditional verse/chorus/verse structure and the arrangements were, at times sparse and at other times chaotic. Replicator's sound was often associated with science fiction, paranoia, and somewhat obscure pop culture references, the band frequently cited the fact that they did not have any love songs in their press materials.
Straddling the fine line between "social commentary and smart ass revelry" as well as "technical precision and reckless abandon," Replicator used analog tape deck to play samples live until switching to a laptop computer with the Bludgeonsoft software Back to Basics for sampling. Song titles such as: Bawkbakwak Bawkbagone, Warrior Needs Food, Badly, Frank Lloyd Wrong and Login with my fist, rarely conformed to standard structure, however according to band members in multiple interviews, the song titles almost always are inspired by or inspire the lyrical content of the songs, unlike other bands with lengthy song titling such as Don Caballero (who do not have vocals) and Minus the Bear.
The band recorded their first record Winterval with Bob Weston of the band Shellac, triggering understandable comparisons to that band that would hound them for years to come. Shortly afterwards, bass player Dan Kennedy left the band. The lineup solidified in 2001 when Indiana expatriate Ben Adrian joined the band on bass guitar. Adrian often joked that he was still "filling in" on bass 6 years later. 2002 and 2003 saw the band tinker with sound effects, taking the sampling (or "grand theft audio" as Neutron put it) practices of Steel Pole Bathtub and adding this to their developing aggressive and chaotic sound, as well as keyboard.
This sound was represented in the album You Are Under Surveillance. Frequently cited as chaotic, dense and paranoid, Surveillance was apparently a loose concept album based upon the ideas of "paranoia, lost freedom of choice, airborne revenge, the end of the world, the problems and consequences of an overgrown consumerist, bottom line-oriented culture; and the merits of applied righteous indignation". According to The New York Times, Neutron himself was under surveillance at the time for his activities as head of Bands Against Bush. "I'd hate to think what they would have done if we were doing something more nefarious then putting on shows and registering voters."
In September 2004 on one of their "ReplicaTours", Replicator's van was broken into and their guitars and keyboards were stolen. Luckily they were able to borrow the equipment of their tourmates Greenlight the Bombers and continue. This theft occurred during the 2004 rash of equipment thefts that plagued many working musicians.
The end of the Arctic Monkeys 2006 song "Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But", bears a resemblance to Replicator's 2001 song "Ka-Tet", so much so that some fans of the band have questioned if it is a case of simultaneous inspiration, or a case of (unlikely) musical plagiarism.
2007's Machines Will Always Let You Down, seems to also be a loosely based concept album, this time around the conflict between man and machine. The press materials state that it is: 10 songs about Nanotechnological assassination, time travel, building sex robots, the eternal battle of man vs. machine and other things.
This record was recorded by Vern Rumsey of the band Unwound, and was released on Olympia's Radio I Down record label.
2008 also saw several more US Tours, including a full us tour documented in a tour journal on the music website superstarcastic.com.
On January 2, 2008, an announcement was made on the Replicator website that "After 8 years, 3 albums, 2 eps, 4 vans, almost 200 shows, a handful of compilation appearances, and countless floors" the band had agreed to an amicable mutual break up. After recording a final ep, (Including a cover of Babyland's Arthur Jermyn), released again on Radio Is Down, Replicator played their last show at The Hemlock Tavern in San Francisco on April 5.
As of January 1, 2009, former members of Replicator started two new bands with Ben Adrian forming a post-punk/shoegazing group called Guitar vs. Gravity while Conan Neutron and Chris Bolig formed the short lived classic rock meets noise rock band Mount Vicious. As of August 2009, Chris Bolig began playing drums for Adrian's "small format rock band" Cartographer, Neutron started the band Victory and Associates (2009-2014) and then in 2015 Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends with Melvins drummer Dale Crover.
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