Interview: Motograter drummer talks futuristic tribal vibe of 'Desolation'
Rustyn Rose

Motograter is an anomaly in the music industry. The tribal-tinged nu-metal outfit formed in 1995, released one record in 2003, broke up, reformed, broke up again, reformed again and are about to release their second full-length studio album 14 years after their debut. Not many bands could pull off such a feat and maintain the fan loyalty that Motograter has achieved. This speaks to the power of their music and the resiliency of its members. Only guitarist Matt “Nuke” Nunes remains from the band’s acclaimed self-titled debut. Noted vocalist Ivan Moody left to join Five Finger Death Punch. James Anthony Legion now fronts the band that will embark on its next chapter with the release of the sophomore album, Desolation. This week, AXS connected with drummer Noah “Shark” Robertson to talk about the evolution of Motograter, the new record, and his own Zombie Shark Records.

Robertson allied with Motograter in 2013, joining Nunes and bassist Mylon Guy as part of the band’s rebirth. The drummer, who also owns and runs Zombie Shark Records, has long been a buff of bands with a unique image and of Motograter in particular.

“When I first joined this band, I was just a fan. I was a huge Moto fan. I had Moto posters on my wall," Robertson said. "I was sitting in my room trying to play along to Motograter songs. When I got in the band, nobody really knew who Motograter was. They had kind of faded into obscurity. We had 4,000 fans on Facebook. Now we’re playing festivals and we’re touring the U.S. constantly. We have a new album out, we’re charting, and we have like 186,000 fans on Facebook.”

Motograter is 14 years removed from the 2003 eponymous debut album. With the exception of “Nuke,” the line-up has been completely revamped. Despite this, there was never a discussion of changing the band name and starting over. The band remained committed to the Motograter name and fans. “The guys that are in this band completely respect the tradition and everything that’s behind Motograter,” shares Shark. “We wanted to keep the same mood and vibe. We’re just kind of like a tribe that changes members. There are people that have told us to change the name or get rid of the paint, but I think Motograter has become something bigger than itself and it was something that deserved to live on. I think there were enough fans out there and people that wanted to see the Moto gears turning.”

The new record, Desolation, has been in the works for several years and the journey to get to its completion and release has been personally rewarding, but also mentally and financially draining for the band.

Desolation has been the most insane journey to make this album happen,” admits Robertson. “It’s crazy. Obviously the band has been trying to make something happen since around 2006 when Ivan Moody left, but they could never get it off the ground. Finally we got the right group of guys together in the right, perfect storm. For the past three years, we’ve been making this album, basically," Robertson said. "We’ve been flying to different states, and it was just crazy and weird. And also to get the money--In this day and age in the music industry, there is nobody willing to throw huge amounts of cash at a band. So we had to raise all the money ourselves. Basically we spent over $10,000 and three years making this album; mixing and mastering, and getting it just right. It’s been a long process. In a nutshell it started where we were just recording everything ourselves in our jam room, and then we flew Arhue Luster, our producer from Ill Nino out here for a week, and he sat down with us and helped us revamp all the songs to get them major label quality and radio friendly.”

Despite the lineup changes, time and distance from the band’s first record, although the band has evolved, sonically Desolation maintains the Motograter sound and style.

“Nuke is the original guitar player on the first album, and he had a lot to do with some of those older songs, so the Moto sound and songwriting is still there,” offers Noah. “You’ve got the main guy, Nuke, still in the band. But now he’s supported by a group of guys who really respect and love the Motograter name and sound. So what we’ve done is created basically a 2017, futuristic version of the band. If you listen to Desolation, we’re talking about all the same things, and a lot of the lyrical content and the mood and the vibe are completely there. You’re gonna hear that tribal metal sound that everybody loves, but it’s just got a modern twist on it. We’ve made sure that it’s going to appeal to new and old fans alike.”

The band’s recent single from the album is the track “Dorian”. During a recent festival show at Ink in the Clink, the band shot a video for the song at the old Ohio State Reformatory where The Shashank Redemption was filmed. “That was insane. I can’t even begin to put it into words. That place has a lot of history. It’s super creepy and scary. You always feel like somebody’s watching you. Despite the behind the scenes footage and photos--it looks bright in there, but seriously, it’s dark and creepy everywhere else besides that room we were in. There’s no electricity. It’s such an old building. We had to run hundreds of feet of extension cord just to get power to that room we were in.”

You can listen to the full interview with Noah Shark Robertson above as he talks more in-depth about Desolation, and how the video for “Dorian” almost didn’t happen. You can also watch the video for "Parasite" below.