Bob Schneider (BS) is one of those artists who is pretty much a genre unto himself. Unbelievably eclectic, with a long and varied discography, born and raised in a musical environment and master of an impressive number of different instruments, getting the chance to see him play and have a chat with him was a little intimidating as well as exciting- lucky for Room Thirteen, he's an amazingly down-to-earth and friendly guy. We caught up with him after his show to find out a bit more about him, clear up an interesting rumour, and see how this year has gone for him.

R13: So how has 2008 been for you?
BS: It's been horrible! Kind of; in a way, it's been really bad. My personal life has been horrible, but! [smiles] Usually horror in your personal life can translate into some good music. Sometimes. Sometimes it can be really maudlin and boring, and kind of personal. But I got a couple of good songs out of it, and we just recorded a record over the last couple of months which turned out pretty good, so I'm pretty excited about that.

R13: You aim to play up to 200 shows a year; that's a lot!
BS: It's too many, it's way too many; I don't recommend it! After you play that many shows you really get to the point where you're like, 'What am I doing?' You don't have any reference as to why you're doing what you're doing. You're just kind of doing it, like some kind of weird automaton. It's not good. You should play... like five shows a year. That's great! That's perfect, 'cos then you're excited and you know what you're doing. Otherwise you get disorientated.

R13: How do you keep up the energy to give your best night after night with all those shows?
BS: Well you get a lot of it from the audience, and I get a lot of it from constantly writing new material and working it into the set. I'm always writing new songs and doing them live, and I may do it for a week or two, and then never do it again. But it keeps the shows fun for me. If I had to just play 200 shows a year with the same set, there'd be a gun. In my mouth. With bullets in it.
So yeah, just constantly doing new stuff, and doing it on stage, is what keeps it fresh.

R13: It seems a large proportion of your shows are in Texas. What motivates you to focus on Austin?
BS: Well... I can do it, basically. And it's a lot cheaper to do it in Texas, because we can just drive there in our own cars, whereas when we go on the road we have all these other expenses and we don't make as much money. We actually lose money most of the time, when we're on the road. Like tonight - even though the place is sold out, I actually had to pay money to play the show. That sucks. But you figure eventually it'll pay off, and pay for itself.

R13: Your bio mentions that you'd like to tour the world; where would you like to go first?
BS: I'd love to go to England. I've heard great things about playing over there. People actually listen! Actually there's a few places I play over here where people do listen, and not... talk? There are fans, and they're here to see the show, and they still talk. Which I don't get, because I grew up in Germany, so I'm used to people actually paying attention. So it'd be great to go to England, you know, mainly 'cos my songs are in English, so, you know! I do spend a lot of time working on the lyrics, making sure that they can hopefully resound some way, so that would be my first choice. And then, anywhere. I grew up in Germany, so I'd love to play there, and I speak German. But anywhere overseas would be fine.

R13: How do you feel about branching out beyond your existing fanbase?
BS: I would love to have everybody in the world love Bob Schneider. That's my goal- hundred per cent world domination! Like... bigger than David Hasslehoff. That'd be great.

R13: You've mentioned before that your songs tend to be written from different narrators within you. Is there a set few personas that you're aware of, or are there constantly new voices being born within you?
BS: There's not really one set, one person; it is, but it's all kinds of different people, different storytellers.
R13: Do you have a handle on them, or are they always changing?
BS: I don't have any personal information about any of them, really- except for what's in the song. Everything else is just whatever you want it to be.

R13: Do you feel it was nature or nurture that lead to your music career?
BS: I think it was nurture. My dad's a musician, and he taught me how to play when I was three, I think, so I've been playing ever since. It's something I've always done. And when you're really young, and you play music for people, people get really excited, so you get this inner sense that you are good at it, even though I've always been really not good at it [laughing]. But I always had this strange idea that I was good. But then if I look back ten years, at what I was doing ten years ago, I think, 'God, I was so horrible!' But I still think now, I'm really doing quite good! But I have a feeling I'll look back in another five or ten years and think I was awful. So I've always had this sense that I was great, even though I was horrible.
I think that comes from being three, and being able to say... a... word. [laughs] People go crazy. So I think it's nurture.

R13: You've been a part of many bands and musical projects; how do you think that's contributed to your solo career?
BS: I think you figure out a lot of things you don't wanna do when you're in a band. You learn to kind of trust your own voice a little bit. I liked being in a band because I didn't have to take a lot of responsibility, and I was really afraid of making all the decisions, but now I really enjoy it. It took me a while to get the courage to take responsibility.

R13: Was going solo a deliberate choice, or a natural result of wanting to keep creating music?
BS: I think I was tired of the anarchy of a band situation, and I really did just want to do my own thing, and not worry about having to please the different players in the band. The drummer, mainly. The drummer always has this idea of what works, and they don't, really... Except for in Metallica.

R13: How do you feel about the future? What are your plans?
BS: Well... World domination is first and foremost on the list. And then I've got a kid, so being a good dad is a main priority, which is fun, and the best thing ever. And then just playing music, and hopefully having fun with it, not taking it too seriously- or taking myself too seriously.

R13: Lastly, we've heard rumours that you head up a song-writing challenge. Is there any truth to that?
BS: Well I do a song-writing exercise, with some other songwriters, where we'll pick a word or a couple of words, and then we'll write songs that have the word in the song somewhere. There's been a ton of them. I've been doing it with a couple of other guys for years. It's pretty neat, because probably eighty per cent of the songs I've written over the last seven years have been doing that song-writing exercise, so there's all these other songwriters that have the word, or words, in their songs too. It's great when you're listening to their songs and you hear these words pop up, that's pretty fun.
Really it's a competition too. I'm really competitive, and the other guys who do it are competitive, and we're all fans of each other, so we're really trying to be like, 'Check this out.' It's really humbling though, because the guys that I do it with are so great, that I'm always like, 'Hey, check out this!' and then they're like, 'Oh really? What about this?' and I'm like, 'Oh... Really? I guess I'd better go... work on it...' [laughing] So it's been a really humbling, fun thing.

Room Thirteen recommends taking the first chance you can get to catch one of Bob's shows, and listening out for the phrase 'tiger spot' when you're shuffling through your iPod...