By Michele Stevens Bernard, TSB Lifestyle Editor
Hey McKinney, remember when we used to have to jump in the car and drive south to experience Austin’s live music scene? Yep. Me too. But not this time. Maybe it’sa perkto being named the 2nd Best Places in America to live. Or maybe the stars are in the right alignment. No matter what the reason, don’t question fate, because the fact remains, thatone of the best Austin has to offer is coming to us. None other thanthe uber-talented singer/songwriter Bob Schneiderwill dothe honors this coming Friday night,April 26, at the McKinney Performing Arts Center.
Schneider, as eclectic as Austin’s live music scene itself, took time out recently to talk to TownSquareBuzz.com about his music and his upcoming solo acoustic performance at MPAC. The show starts at 8 p.m. and is intended for those ages 18 and over.
MICHELE: For those lucky enough to have a ticket to your show, what can they expect?
BOB: That’s a good question. I don’t have a set list. I get up there and start playing songs. I just kind of go with what I’m feeling in the moment. Anything can happen. Hopefully, that’s the idea. I’m sure I will do a lot of songs that I know will work. It won’t be boring. I will probably go off at some point. My main goal is to be entertaining. If it means I need to be funny, I’m funny. I make it so it’s not all the same thing. Some [songs] are funny and silly. I do what I would want to see if I went to see someone. I go out of my way to put on a show. I wantpeople, you know, tolose themselves for the time I’m onstage. That ismy job: to entertain and to get people out of whatever it is they have to deal with every day.
It will be a unique show. It will be the only time I will do that show. I will say stuff I will never say again. I only tell a story once, which is part of the reason we record all the shows. Then, when you leave, you can buy a USBand leave with a copy of the show. I’ve been doing that for years.
MICHELE: From reading about you and your music, I come away thinking that it looks like you have the best of all worlds where making music is concerned. You call Austin home base. Meanwhile, you tour nationally. You play will all sorts of fun people and, your music defies the boundaries of any particular genre. What do you have to say?
BOB: I kind of agree. I really do feel very fortunate. I have the freedom to kind of explore because I’ve flown under the radar. It’s allowed me to get a fan base of people who are very passionate and loyal. Nationally, I’m not on TV, not in magazines, so, when people come across me, they feel a little like they’ve discovered me. Then, they are like, this is mine. They are real passionate and real supportive. So, Ican do the two things I want to do, write songs, which I love to do, and perform. If I had to just perform the same songs every night, I would get really tired of it. I’ve got just enough people showing up to allow me to nurture and do both things and also create new material.
MICHELE: Cory Morrow said in a recent interview with Culture Map in Dallas when explaining why you inspire him as a singer/songwriter, “There is a visceral truth about everything he writes and sings and plays. The way his music comes across, I hear every instrument and voice the way I think he intended it to be heard. He is able to get across everything on a record that he wants to. His writing is so out there.”
Personally, as a writer, I am always honored and fascinated when I have the opportunity to hear from songwriters. I believe songwriting to be one of the more difficult writing genres. I say this because I’ve tried it, and I’m no good at it! Can you talk to me a little bit about your process?
BOB: It’s weird because it sounds paradoxical.I don’t write autobiographically. I don’t write songs about what I’ve done. I just make up stuff when I write. When he’s saying he hears the truth, it’s weird because I make up most of what I write. In terms of what is happening to the character [in my songs] what comes through is hopefully and unintentionally whatever my emotional state is. If I’m happy, blue, in love, heart-broken, that emotional truth always comes through. I can have the character do whatever I want, it’s all kind of intuitive. Its only after the fact I’ve sort of figured this out. It sort of strengthens the emotional ending of the song.
You say you’re not good at it. I’m no good at it either. I do it [write songs] so much though. Another writer interviewed me once when we were golfing. [Songwriting] is like, there’s a possibility that it can go in the hole. I hardly ever make it on the green. Most of the time I’m over in the rough or off in the sand, occasionally I hit the green. Sometimes I get really close to the pin. After doing it for twenty years there are hundreds in the rough, but I perform the ones that hit the green and get close to the pin.
MICHELE: What are you most excited about these days?
BOB: I have a 7-year-old son. I love being a dad. I love my kid, he is the thing that matters the most to me. That’s the biggest part of my life. I love my job. I have the best job in the world. I feel very fortunate to do what I do. If someone gave me 100 million dollars, I wouldn’t do anything different. I would pay my band more. I would have a driver and an incredible bus. I might even play for free.
MICHELE: McKinney has kind of become an incubator for budding singer/songwriters and musicians. You’ve been at this a while. Any thoughts or words of wisdom you’d like to impart to those who think they’d like to follow in your footsteps?
BOB: I always tell people don’t do it. Do something else, because it’s hard to make a living at it. A lot of the revenue is gone from it now. It’s not an easy way to make a living and its hard on relationships. Now, it’s a great job if you can get it, but chances are, you’re not going to be able to do that, so do something that will pay off in the long run.
If you have to do it no matter what though, in that case, just do something that at the end of the day, you are going to be proud of. That way, even if nobody else loves it, you still love it. My greatest successes have come out of when I considered the audience of one and did what made me happy. As a songwriter and a performer, I think you have to think about that audience of one.
To join the fun and be a part of Bob’s audience of one, at the McKinney Performing Arts Center, click here.
To learn more about Bob and his music, click here.