A Chat With: Bob Schneider
This weekend, we'll be out in Waynesville, Ohio covering Bellwether Festival. The festival lineup includes the Austin-based singer-songwriter and visual artist Bob Schneider, who just released his seventh studio album Blood & Bones on June 8th. Ahead of his 5PM set on Friday, get to know Bob a bit better by checking out our chat below.
You recently put out your seventh studio album Blood and Bones earlier this summer. What would you say is the main difference between this album and your past work?
All of these songs were written after the birth of my daughter. I've noticed that since she's been born, there's been a bit of a shift in how I approach romantic songs. Before this album, the songs were basically, 'you're hot and I'd like to get together with you'. Now they're more like, 'I love you and I want to take care of you.' So I tend to write sweeter songs than I did before.
Going back to your early days, I read that you were born in Michigan, and grew up in Germany before moving to Texas. Do you think that your time in Germany has shaped you as a songwriter and musician?
For sure. Mainly, I ended up hearing a lot of early new wave music overseas. I listened to a lot of British, German and American music, but the British and German stuff I probably wouldn't have been exposed to if I was living in the states. It doesn't necessarily show in terms of what I end up putting out, but I really do love quirky, strange-sounding music.
How do you usually split your time between creating music and your visual art? Is it sometimes difficult to find time to balance both passions in your busy schedule?
I love doing both. I've found myself devoting more time to art than to music the last couple of years, mainly because it takes more time to make art than to write songs. You can write a song in a few hours, but sometimes it takes days or weeks to make a single piece of art. I don't think i'll ever stop making music though. I really love writing songs and getting the chance to play them live is the most exciting thing I get to do.
In all your years of creating both music and art, what has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
The best thing you can do when you're making any kind of art, whether it's visual, music or anything creative really, is to not try to make anything that's 'the best.' Nothing stops you from creating faster than the critical part of your brain. If you're trying to make the best song ever, or the greatest piece of art in the world, you'll never get anywhere, because that voice in your head will constantly be telling you, 'it's not good enough.' The creative part of your brain is like a little kid that wants to play and have fun. If you can get the critical part of your brain to leave that part of your brain alone, you'll never have any problem writing and creating. You can always go back afterwards and figure out if the thing that you made is good or not, but that shouldn't be part of the creative process.
What are some of your favorite aspects of the Austin music scene at the moment, from the best bands to the best venues?
I don't really know. I'm sort of out of the scene. I used to go out all the time and see music, when I was younger and single. Mainly, just to get laid, but also to see live music. Nowadays, though, I don't go out at all. I'm either playing or staying home and hanging out with my family. It's much more interesting and fun for me than to go out and see stuff. Of course, there's always SXSW every year, as well as the 150-200 shows I play throughout the year where I get to see and hear music and meet other songwriters, but I guess that's about it. I do have a favorite Austin songwriter, Danny Malone. Just an amazing songwriter. Max Frost is also doing great work here as well.
I like that on your website, you have a section called “Some of My Favorite Things” where you shout out everything from your favorite books, movies, food, etc… I noticed most of the posts were made in 2015, so do you have any more recent favorites that you’d like to shout out now?
I was talked into hosting an online magazine three years ago and they wanted me to interview my favorite artists and talk about my favorite things, so that's where that came from. It was weird contacting people that I didn't know very well - or at all, in some cases - and asking them questions about their art. I would never do anything like that, and probably won't be doing that again anytime soon. I do have some recommendations though: in film - 8th Grade, First Reformed, Ghost Story, Den of Thieves, Blockers (this list can go on and on). Books - The Overstory by Richard Powers, The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmins. Poetry - Ted Kooser and Frank Stanford. Graphic novels - The Saga series. Podcasts - Philosophize This. TV - The Great British Baking Show, Scott and Bailey, Barry (this list could go on as well).
This weekend you’ll be playing at Bellwether Music Festival, and the lineup is incredible! Are there any other sets at the festival you’re hoping to catch?
There are some incredible bands playing. Two of my all time favorites included, The Flaming Lips and Psychedelic Furs, but I'll miss both of them, because I have a gig the next day...
What can we expect from your show at the festival? Will you mostly be playing the new songs or a mix of your discography?
It'll be mostly new songs with a few of the older songs thrown in for any fans of mine that might be in attendance.
Lastly, what else are you looking forward to this year?
GOMFT! (that stands for "Game of Mother Fucking Thrones"), but I think that's actually not coming out till next year, for some reason. Either way, Im looking forward to it!
There's still time to get tickets for Bellwether Festival. Head here to snag yours, starting at only $65 for single day. Bob plays Friday at 5PM on the Sunset Stage.