Q&A: Bob Schneider

I talked with Bob Schneider about his experience in the music industry and his songwriting.


Q: When did you know you wanted to be a musician?

Well, it’s something I did my whole life, but it’s what my dad did also, so I didn’t really want to do what he did. I wanted to kind of do my own thing, so I thought I’d make art. That was what I spent most of my time doing as a kid. Drawing. I ended up being a Fine Arts major in college and was taking mostly art classes, but I also did a talent show as a senior in high school and then again in college. I had taken piano lessons for about 10 years, so I knew how to play and I’d make up songs on the piano about the school and my friends and so some folks asked me to perform. It was pretty exciting and I got a lot of notoriety out of doing those talent shows, and that’s when I really sort of got the bug I guess. When I was attending the University of Texas in El Paso, I started playing keyboards in a pop band there and we discussed moving to Austin to pursue a music career and after my winter break during my junior year I decided that I’d give the music thing a go and if it didn’t work out I’d just go back to school and finish my degree, but I moved to Austin and never looked back

Q: You’ve written over 2,000 songs. Dare I ask..do you have a favorite, and why?

I have a few favorites. Songs that I’m proud to have written. Not one in particular though. I tend to like the newer songs that I haven’t played for years as well, but I’m not opposed to playing songs I wrote a while ago, as long as I can always play the newer ones in the set. One of the benefits of never having had a big hit song is you can kind of do what you want when you play your shows, and change over time and not be tied to a certain song or time period of your career. In that regard I’m very fortunate because my priorities have changed over the years and songs that I might have liked ten years ago don’t resonate as much now for me being a father and husband.

Q: Who inspires you?

I’m always inspired by people who make music that sounds different. For whatever reason, the singer-songwriter genre seems pretty fucked out to me, and so I don’t find a lot of inspiration there. Most of the stuff that I find interesting tends to come from rappers and the pop community. I love Twenty One Pilots, Chance the Rapper, Lil Dicky, Post Malone, Drake and The Weeknd. A friend of mine just turned me on to Pere Ubu, which I’ve been listening to non-stop which is sort of on the complete other end of the musical spectrum, but I really love it. I always am amazed that something that’s been around for years could have completely gone under the radar that I really love like that.

Q: What was it like filming the music video for “40 Dogs” with Kat Dennings?

It was great. She’s a real pro actress and I’d never really shot anything like that before. She plays my romantic interest in the video and we shot it over the course of a day or two, and while we were filming she got into character and was very flirtatious and I sort of started getting the idea that she was really into me, which of course I found to be very flattering, but right after the very last shot, she turned to me and said, ‘I’m breaking up with you’, and that was it. She turned the whole thing right off, and it was like I didn’t even exist after that. I was kind of heartbroken and felt pretty foolish, but it was a pretty cool experience nonetheless.

Q: How have you grown since your first EP/album?

Well, as a songwriter, I don’t think you really ever get better at writing songs. You might get better at recording them, or playing your instrument. You might realize what works and what doesn’t when it comes to going into the studio and that kind of thing, but none of that really helps you write better songs. In fact, it can be a hinderance, because if you get too into the mechanics of songwriting you can forget that the only thing that really matters is what you are saying emotionally in the song. I’ve obviously got a different world view than I did when I first started writing songs and the reason I do it is a little different I guess. I was really doing it in initially as a way to meet girls, but now that i’m married that has changed. I guess I still want to be loved and appreciated, though, so that part hasn’t really changed all that much. I’m definitely more of an adult and I write songs more from that perspective.

Q: Do you have a favorite venue or city that you’ve played in?

I do have some favorite venues. My favorite though, is probably my Monday night residency at the Saxon Pub in Austin. I’ve been doing it now for over 17 years, but the thing that I like about that show is, we are always playing music there that I’ve never played before. Either because I just wrote it and the band is playing it together for the first time, or its older music that my current band has never played before. It’s kind of like going and seeing myself in concert, which is pretty cool when everything is going well. Because we don’t get together and practice together as a band, these are sort of like live, paid rehearsals that we are doing on Monday. It’s similar to golf, in that when it’s going badly, you really can get to feeling pretty bad about life, but when it’s going well, you are just on top of the world.

Q: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done in life?

Skydiving was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I’m not sure how crazy that is. Playing music for a living seems pretty crazy, but so does life for the most part if you really want to get down to brass tacks.

Q: Are you excited about your show here in Maryland?

Oh, you bet! 🙂

Bob headlines Rams Head Annapolis August 24th!

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