Thanks for Playing: An interview with Bob Schneider
By Niki D’Andrea
Bob Schneider is a respected singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas, a prolific road warrior who’s managed to release 20 albums in 16 years (eight as a solo artist, and 12 with various bands and side projects like Ugly Americans and The Scabs). His latest record, When the Sun Breaks Down on the Moon (Shokorama), continues to establish his mastery of his craft through a rough-and-ready rock/Americana sound that incorporates musical elements from a wide range of genres. (The song “Slower Dear,” for example, tells the story of someone waiting for a loved one to come back from the war through the eyes of a forlorn grocery shopper, and includes steel drums and horns that give the song a melancholy calypso-jazz feel.)
He apparently doesn’t know it, but Bob Schneider also has a reputation as a sex bomb indie rock star. In addition to his high-profile affair and subsequent breakup with actress Sandra Bullock, rumors run rampant about the seasoned troubadour’s post-show conquests – “12 women in a row,” “Yeah, my girlfriend got with Bob Schneider,” “I hear he’s such a slut.”
Women dig Bob Schneider. I mean, he’s a handsome Texan who plays tons of instruments and writes catchy, poignant songs with lyrics like, “I’m naked as a monkey/feel like a flunky/and I just wanna use you all up like a junkie” (“Game Plan,” from The Californian) and “I’m on fire and I’m insane and I’m all right/Don’t stand too close/You’ll be blinded by the light” (“C’Mon Baby,” from I’m Good Now). He’s also a pretty candid and quietly charming fellow, prattling on in his deep, gravelly voice about everything from Damien Rice’s mastery of the “I-don’t-give-a-fuck hairdo” to looking for instruments in pawn shops in the extensive, between-song commentaries for the new album on his, Web site. The highly-interactive site includes instructions like, “Click on the sound icons to hear Bob talk utter shit about himself and his bandmates. Please note that all band members are subject to change, so stop fucking showing up drunk.”
Still, in a highly unprofessional move, I stood up Bob Schneider last Monday night. The man with whom every woman in the club would love to spend 15 minutes allotted some post-show time for me in his dressing room, and I got the e-mail too late, forgot about the show, and stood up the studliest hunk in indie music. Alas, these sorts of things happen. But he was so cool about it, conferring his cell phone number so we could do a phoner interview instead.
Here is that interview:
What’s the tour been like so far?
It’s a different setup. It’s a three-piece with no drummer. We’re making loops, using drum machines, and stuff like that. So we’ve been trying to figure out exactly how to do it and perfecting the show. That’s really what we’ve been working on this tour. I think by the time we get finished with the tour, we’ll have it down.
You talk about the I-don’t-give-a-fuck-hairdo on your Web site, and how you attempt to pull this off. Is there a formula, like you just muss it up straight out of the shower?
I think it’s the haircut itself. I think it’s having a haircut that looks like you cut it yourself, even if you have somebody else cut it.
How often do you write new songs? Every day?
I don’t write every day. Sometimes I write for four or five days in a row, though. I write a lot.
Seems like musically, you’ve done a bit of everything, from Ugly Americans to your solo stuff, and incorporate a wide variety of instruments and genres. What things influence your music and lyrics?
Everything I hear has an influence in one way or another. There’s something about that I don’t like; I try to avoid that. Everything influences what I do, but where the stuff itself comes from is some place mysterious place – does it come from something I hear, or from some deeper place? But I try not to fight it. I just go with the flow, and whatever comes into my head, I try to capture it in a song, and go with it.
I have heard rumors that you’re quite the ladies man. Like, 12 ladies in a night. Care to confirm or dispel?
Uh…well, I mean, I like hearing that kind of crazy talk, but it’s definitely crazy talk. Nothing like that has ever happened, but it’s pretty wild that that kind of rumor is floating around, for sure.
I was wondering if you’d be down for some one-word association?
That was fun. Thanks for playing, Bob!
Check out the video for “C’Mon Baby” below, and visit www.bobschneidermusic.com to hear songs from When the Sun Breaks Down on the Moon.