It seems that some our most influential artists are born in small, quiet towns, and Robley’s story is no different. Raised in a small farming community near Denver, Colorado, Bart felt his calling very early. Perhaps it was the peaceful air of his hometown, or the fact that he was raised close to the earth; but somehow he was able to concentrate on the music that he heard in rhythm. Naturally, when it came time for him to choose an instrument in elementary school, he chose the drums, and never looked back.
Robley was very lucky to have good teachers and mentors who taught him to forego the flash and concentrate on the rudiments first. And that is what he did. Bart dug deeply and worked on his craft, through both elementary and high school. When he felt strong enough to branch out, he had the strong basis on which to build the flair that has become his own thundering style. Recognizing his obvious talent, local musicians tapped Robley for studio and cover projects in the Denver area. His untested youth didn’t keep him from backing some of the more talented bands and joining them in club gigs and tours. This was the beginning of a long history of studio work and myriad bands which would keep Bart busy up to the present day.
Through his many projects, Bart learned the nuances of rock, country, jazz, fusion, hard rock and heavy metal. As his thirst for musical adventures grew, so did his need for larger projects. So he bid goodbye to his small town life and, in 1989, relocated to Southern California. Bart networked the L.A. music scene, replete with a host of metal, punk and industrial bands. But fate smiled on him when he met with another out-of-towner, guitarist Steve Cenker. This formed the basis for an original band named War Crime, and together with local bassist A.J. Schad, the trio burst forth on the L.A. scene, slinging fiery metal at a thirsty crowd. In its long and storied history, War Crime released two albums on Black Wall Records, became an underground hit in Southern California and garnered huge support in European airplay and sales. Endless touring ensued, testing even the limits of these hardened rock warriors. By 1998, the band had seen the departure of A.J. Schad, and though he was temporarily replaced, Cenker and Robley decided to lay their metal beast to its final rest. Robley remained friends with Cenker, as the two pursued separate career paths, relaying their musical stories and woes to one another along the way. Bart returned to studio work and live performances as a ‘hired gun’ in many diverse projects from country to hard rock. It was one of these situations that led to Bart being hired full time by Southern Rock mainstays The Sam Morrison Band.
Morrison recognized Robley’s undeterred dedication to not only the craft of drumming, but to the business of making music. This was essential for rebuilding SMB into a reckoning force. On Bart’s recommendation, his good friend Steve Cenker was hired as the new lead guitarist for SMB, and the reunited band mates helped to reinvigorate the band’s entire style and sound. 2002 saw the release of the first full-length album from a re-invigorated SMB. Solid reviews and packed houses are a testament to the new sound that is already a favorite at biker events and venues and working its way into the main public bloodstream. To date the Sam Morrison Band has recorded 8 CD’s with legendary producer Michael Vail Blum (Madonna Pink Floyd) and sold over 700,000 downloads on I-Tunes They have also been streamed over 10 million times on Spotify.
Not content to sit idle, Robley’s spare moments are spent training the next generation of drumming professionals, and he maintains a full roster of students at his private studio in Fullerton, California.
As a final note, Bart Robley would like to thank the products that help form his sound, and for which he is an active endorser. These include Gretsch Drums, Symphonic Percussion Drums, Aquarian Heads, Sabian Cymbals, Gibraltar Hardware, Vic Firth Sticks, Trick Bass Drum Pedals, The Kelly Shu, Kickport, Gorilla Snot and Hal Leonard Publishing.
And in addition is a proud user of Latin Percussion, and Ultimate Ears in ear monitors. Bart hopes his experiences with these pieces of equipment will help you in your search to find and chart your own musical adventures.