When we heard Bob Schneider would be visiting St. Louis again this year, Unreal's being was suffused with love for mankind. (Okay, maybe it was the Vicodin.) While critics slag him for not being pigeonholable despite superb work like 2001's Lonelyland and this year's I'm Good Now, Schneider keeps pouring out a potent brew that careens from folky to punky to funky to nasty.
We gave him a call in Austin. He told us he'll have a new EP out in time for Christmas. We lobbied him to relocate his home base to St. Louis.
Unreal: You were here in June. What brings you back so soon? Are we on the way someplace?
Bob Schneider: Any time we're not going back to a place within a couple of months, I feel like it's too long. Whereas a lot of bands just keep playing the same thing over and over, people will hear stuff they've never heard before when we play. If I had my druthers, I'd be in St. Louis once a month.
If St. Louis can sell Chingy to the world, we could certainly push "Keep That Stiffy Rollin'." Have you given any thought to moving here?
The ballad "2002" is a transparent ploy. Did you win back the ex you're singing to?
Oh, no. I wrote that right after I got dumped. I was like: "In six months I'll be fine, but the next six months are gonna suck." I wrote that song in 1997 or 1998, so 2002 seemed a long way off. Now, of course, people think it's all autobiographical.
The narrator's kicking heroin. Is that autobiographical?
People think that a lot of my songs are autobiographical, but really none of them are. I've always hated songs about, "Oh, this is how I'm feeling." I don't give a fuck how you're feeling. I borrow stuff from my life, for sure -- I mean, I did bag groceries for a year. I never drove a school bus, but a guy who I played with quit the band and eventually ended up driving a school bus, which I thought was the most depressing thing.
Is the region of your brain that thinks up a lyric like "I saw a falling star at the foot of the mountain of the dead in the middle of the Mexico in my mind" a different one from the area that comes up with an existential revelation like "I weighed my dick last night, it weighed a pound"?
It's the same one! We're living in a country where talking about sex is taboo. I'd much rather look at titties and cocks on TV than fuckin' corpses and people shooting each other. That's so lame, and so not real, and so not good for anybody.
Does it really weigh a pound?
I don't have a big dick, I'm not a big drug user...I'm living a rock & roll lie! But everybody does -- it's all about presentation with rock & roll. I love taking advantage of the idea that you can write whatever you want when you write a song. I'm not going to make myself look horrible in my songs. I'm going to make myself look as appealing as possible, most of the time.
Hey, when you think about it, it's not that hard to come up with the lewd stuff -- there must be a million rhymes for "scrotum," right?
Um, not that I'm aware of. You'd have to make up shit like "growed 'em." I don't know what else rhymes with "scrotum...."
How about "totem"?
"Totem" -- there you go! You should write some songs! -- Unreal
Here and Queer
Rufus Wainwright has released the gayest album this side of Turbonegro's Ass Cobra, and it couldn't come at a better time. From the pink-hued cover art featuring Wainwright in medieval drag, right on down to the not-so-subtly titled "Gay Messiah" -- in which Wainwright envisions a gay Jesus choosing the shores of Fire Island as his 21st-century resurrection point -- this is as unabashedly homosexual an album as Wainwright (or maybe even anyone) has ever made, and God bless him for it.
While the entire work was more or less intended as an asymmetrical compendium to 2003's Want One, Want Two makes a very important, if unintentional, political statement at a time when an ardently homophobic theocrat has just ridden the bare backs of heartland-state anti-gay-marriage ballot measures to re-election. Herein, the United States reveals itself to be a nation overrun with culturally delusional, evangelical, exurban scraps of white trash, with a president to match. It's enough to make any citizen -- much less a gay troubadour with dual Canadian citizenship -- make a run for the border. Instead, Wainwright chooses to live and tour amongst us cultural troglodytes, where, if his lyrics are any indication, he takes a personal interest in convincing closed-minded Tennesseans that homosexuality is neither sin nor crime -- one sexy Southerner at a time. You go, girl! -- Mike Seely
Wee, the People...
Listening to the latest offering from Massapequa, New York's mope-rock kings As Tall As Lions got us thinking about a few things. Sure, the gorgeous, jangly melodies, epic choruses and heartbreaking falsetto of ATAL singer/guitarist Daniel Nigro on Lafcadio conjure images of a younger, more emo U2 in its Unforgettable Fire heyday. But when the bittersweet strains of "Acrobat" began to drip like sandalwood honey from the stereo and Nigro's saccharine wail inquired, then comforted -- "Do you wish you were beautiful?/'Cause you will always be beautiful" -- the mind turned to those who actually are as tall as lions (which stand roughly four feet tall at the shoulder). The hopes, dreams and long suffering of vertically challenged individuals throughout the ages overcame the tear ducts. How can one help the beautiful little people promote understanding and acceptance in this shallow, idiot world?
As this swell of emotion and charitable sentiment streamed down a quivering cheek, the ever-helpful Google pointed to www.lpaonline.org, the Internet home of Little People of America. Founded in 1957 by now-deceased dwarf character actor Billy Barty (he was a talented wee man with an immense heart o' gold), the nonprofit organization provides medical resources, scholarships and social outreach programs to the short in stature. If you're thinking of adopting a child, you'll want to consider the LPA's placement program for abandoned dwarf children from other countries. If the pitter-pat of little feet isn't in your future, send your generous donation to the LPA or get involved locally. The St. Louis chapter can be reached through www.lpagateway.org.
Now you know how you can help the little people. You can help As Tall As Lions cap off the final leg of its fall tour by catching the band's set at the Creepy Crawl on Monday. -- John Goddard