They’re two teenage brothers without props or pretensions. All Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei need to rock their blend of raw garage-punk as The Bots is a guitar, drums, and big sound. Damon Albarn and Jack Black have both taken the Californian brothers on tour with them. Many of the venues they’ve played would not let them in the front door: Mikaiah is 19 and Anaiah just 16. They write their own songs, and there’s no big record company pulling the strings behind the scenes. The Bots are real. And real loud. They are your rock stars of tomorrow.
The Red Bulletin: Despite your age, you’re pretty experienced rockers. How did you start making music?
Mikaiah: We met at rock ’n’ roll fat camp. The harder we rocked, the faster the pounds dropped of us.
Anaiah: Not quite, but it would make a really good story. We started jamming in our bedroom when we were 9 and 6 years old. We played instruments in a pretty rough way at first, like toys I guess, but it quickly became something more.
You make a tremendous amount of noise for a two-man band.
Mikaiah: We’re a good team. That’s why we’re the two-piece we are.
Anaiah: We like a big sound. We’ve always been into the same stuff, so together it means we can get crazy and wild with it.
You’ve played to crowds of thousands supporting the likes of Blur and Tenacious D. Do you get nervous?
Mikaiah: I do get nervous before playing to big crowds.
Anaiah: I don’t. I’m fine.
Mikaiah: Come on, you weren’t nervous at all before that first gig with Tenacious D?
Anaiah: Oh yeah, that day I was.
Mikaiah: I thought so.
How is it trying to balance a life of rock ’n’ roll with school?
Anaiah: Fine! After a long summer of touring in Europe, I’m gearing up for school again. It’s easy to balance it. I get pretty good grades.
Can you be taken seriously as rockers if your mother is with you on tour?
Mikaiah: She has to come along, because Anaiah is so young. It’s terrible. You’ve got our mom dancing to the songs at the side of the stage. I try not to think about it…
Anaiah: …but then you hear this voice from the side of the stage going, “Smile! Smile at the crowd.” Just awful.
Check out the January 2013 issue of Red Bulletin magazine (on newsstands December 11) for more articles. To read the magazine on your iPad, download the Red Bulletin iPad app.