Bob Schneider has figured out a pretty good way to avoid the major-label blues: He puts out his own albums. Over the past decade, the Austin-based rocker has released a whopping fifteen albums with an ever-expanding roster of side groups. As frontman for the Scabs, Schneider tends toward incendiary funk, with often profane subject matter ("Big Butts & Blowjobs"). His work with legendary guitarist Mitch Watkins, by contrast, is stark and haunting, in the tradition of Tom Waits.
Two years ago Schneider released Lonelyland, a sublime collection that ranged from bluesy ballads to rootsy, Dylanesque anthems. The self-released album sold so well in his hometown that Universal picked it up for national distribution.
Schneider is slated to release a second album on Universal. But he's been keeping busy in the meantime. Real busy. Last year he put out a rollicking R&B album with a bunch of his henchmen whom he dubbed, for the occasion, the Galaxy Kings. His most recent effort, I Have Seen the End of the World and It Looks Like This, is a selection of demos that veers more toward the experimental, with distorted vocals, scat-style lyrics and trip-hop beats.
Schneider is renowned for his live shows, which always offer a sampling of his eclectic recordings. At a recent show in Boston, for instance, he played a ten-minute rumba, along with a cover of the Beastie Boys' "(You've Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)" and a scorching version of "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman." Then he played a drop-dead gorgeous rendition of "If I Only Had a Heart" from The Wizard of Oz.
It's not clear that Schneider actually ever sleeps, but he's clearly an artist at the top of his game. Catch him in a club setting while you still can.