I’ve always been mistrustful of anyone who gets too much credit in the media.
We were able to chat with Austin singer/songwriter Bob Schneider as he crossed solo through Missouri in his Beamer. He was on his way to a show at Mojo’s in Columbia, followed by a show a day later at Blueberry Hill.
We saw you the last time you were in St. Louis at Mississippi Nights . You started out sort of low key, then were able to get the crowd in high-energy dance party mode. You really brought the audience together. We raved about it for days and it is easily on our Top 5 of 2003. Besides the obvious band members, how will your solo performance at the Duck Room differ from playing with the band?
It’s a lot scarier. It’s just me with my guitar and I always feel like I suck really bad. I have had a lot of people tell me they like seeing it; it’s more intimate. But I feel like I need to interact more with the audience.
Your musical career—both solo and with a variety of bands—spans all sorts of styles, from funk and groove to jam, calypso, rap, and ballads. Who are your favorite musicians?
Currently, I’m diggin’ Flaming Lips; I love those guys. Tom Waits and Randy Newman are two of my favorites. African music, too. I love Ludacris and 50 Cent. I also like that new Britney Spears song. Turn it up! And Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?”
You have a phenomenal following in and around Austin. Is that where you got your start?
I went University of Texas – El Paso about 15 years ago and dropped out of art school. I ended up in Austin. I’ve been mostly with bands over the years.
A few years back, you performed on Austin City Limits. What was that \like?
It was great. It is a really well-run operation. There is a lot of history and all my favorites have played there. It was quite an honor.
You were also a multi-award winner at the South by Southwest music festival. Did that success help to further solidify you on the music scene?
I’m sure it filled most musicians with loathing, but I definitely got some notoriety. I’ve always been mistrustful of anyone who gets too much credit in the media. This is the way I feel : if I see someone in the press, it makes me wanna hate them. Like Ben Folds Five. I decided they sucked, then I got a promo copy of Whatever and Ever, Amen. After 30 seconds, I thought, “Wait a minute,” and I grabbed the lyrics. I had a wonderful experience hearing something inspired and beautiful and it made me love music.
You recently released I Have Seen the End of the World and it Looks Like This, a collection of your demos—and a same-titled volume of your drawings and poetry. What prompted you to do that, and will any of these tunes turn up on a later project?
We spent six months recording for Universal and another six months waiting to put it out. We waited around for nearly a year. Instead of recording something new, I looked around the house and I had hundreds of demos. I put them together haphazardly; there was no rhyme or reason. Then I started scanning old sketches [for the book]. I took everything to my studio and put it out so people would have something. My favorites won’t be on the next CD. In March, we’re releasing I’m Good Now, a reference to being dead.
The last time you were here, you treated the crowd to a bit of Firefall’s “You Are the Woman.” Have you made that a permanent addition to your musical repertoire?
No, I never ended up finishing that. [Starts singing a bit of the song. We tell him we have the music and will bring it to the show. He laughs and asks if we also have The Zombie’s Greatest Hits, since he’s stuck on one of their songs, too.]
It seems like you’re on the road quite a bit.
We didn’t tour for almost a year and a half [while recording the CD for Universal]. I love to play; I’m addicted to playing live. And I love playing in Texas, but I like traveling around playing for new people. There’s a fresh energy. I just feel like we’re doing something really worthwhile;. that’s the bottom line.
Traveling alone feels like you’re on an adventure. I’ve done two solo tours before and it’s extremely terrifying. It’s less horrific when I’ve brought my friends to open up for me and we’re traveling in a Winnebago. Now I’m traveling around in my car with a couple of guitars. I’m convinced it’s a lonely, long week of being alone. Maybe I’ll sink into pits of loneliness and despair. But it will make me a better writer, and it builds character.