Richard Robbins is not your average everyday guy. During the day he works for the Dixie State University IT department as systems administrator; however, twice a week after work he travels to Las Vegas in order to practice and play shows for two rock bands called Burn Unit and U2 Las Vegas.
Robbins grew up in Sandy, Utah, and started playing piano when he was 7. At 11 he became interested in other instruments like drums and branched out to electric and bass guitar. He then moved to St. George in his early 20s and has been in 12 different bands.
“Ever since I started playing in high school, it was my dream to play in a really successful band and tour the world and the United States,” Robbins said.
Now in his early 30s, he continues to play shows in Las Vegas and in St. George. Burn Unit and U2LV have played at The House of Blues, various clubs, street fairs and casinos. They even played in Laughlin, Nevada, at a casino on New Year’s Eve.
“Oftentimes I won’t get back from the gigs until like 3 or 4 a.m., and then I have to get right back up and go to work the next day,” Robbins said. “Those days I’m a little bit wiped out, but nothing like caffeine and V8 juice to pull you through it. You have to be a night person to survive in a band.”
Burn Unit is a rock cover band that plays anything from classic rock to modern rock, like Led Zeppelin, ACDC, Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots. The band members age anywhere from their 40s to their 60s and Burn Unit has been playing for the past 10 years with different band members. Robbins said he got introduced to Burn Unit because of their drummer, Kelly Clove, and his son, Brandon Clove, who also sings for a local band called Wire Elephant.
“I met Rich when he lived with my oldest son in St. George,” Clove said. “Then Brandon moved in, and they told me, ‘You have to come see this guy play guitar;’ he has all these pedals and knows how to play U2 stuff. I was just blown away when I first saw him play.”
Clove recognized Robbins’ talents right away.
“I had a gig here at Count’s Vamp’d and I decided who I wanted to have play.” Clove said. “Rich was one of them and it was magical.”
Because of their shared love of U2, the members of Burn Unit created a tribute band, U2LV.
U2LV and Burn Unit share three band members and have the same lead singer, David Lee Williams, drummer, Kelly Clove (who switches to bass), and Richard, who plays guitar in both.
On Wednesday Jan. 10 Burn Unit performed at the Count’s Vamp’d Rock Bar and Grill in Las Vegas, Nevada. There were many musicians and guest performers that played alongside Burn Unit. Many show attendees enjoyed the music especially Joseph Flores, 60, who is also a musician and has seen Burn Unit for the last eight years.
Flores said: “They play a lot of old school like a little bit of ‘70s, ‘80s or ‘90s music. Richard is awesome — his leads are amazing.”
Merry Adin, 50, a musician for 30 years, played electric guitar alongside Robbins as a guest with Burn Unit that night. She said Robbins has a lot of dedication for driving two to four times a week to Las Vegas just to play shows.
“He knows he has a good thing going with these guys,” Adin said. “That’s why he takes the drive. It’s worth every mile, every minute to be in a band.”
Guitarist Eric Meyer, who has been in Burn Unit for about six years, said he kept asking Robbins if he had ever heard of specific songs because of the age difference.
“Rich definitely brings the youth in the band,” said Roger Stevenson, who plays bass in Burn Unit.
David Lee Williams, who is the singer for both Burn Unit and U2LV, said it is important to be passionate about what you do in life.
“Your real job is your passion in life,” Williams said. “Every one of these guys in this band are talented beyond belief.”
Robbins said instead of just going through the motions or school and work it is essential to remember that hobbies in life are essential to our happiness and that it is important to put energy and effort.
“As long as it has value to you then that’s all that matters,” Robbins said.
You can find more about Burn Unit at burnunitrocks.com or burnunit on Facebook and U2 Las Vegas at U2lv.com or u2lasvegas on Facebook to get more information.