By Jim Schutze
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Bob Schneider isn't completely awake at the moment. It shows too.
As he drives through Seattle, the Austin-based singer-songwriter can't help but yawn and stammer. One of the many "perils" of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle: After-show parties seem to make pre-lunch interviews a near impossibility. And yet, somehow, here Schneider is, getting interviewed over the phone.
Before noon, no less.
"I need to get hopped up on Starbucks," he says.
Well, at least he knows where he is.
After a few more questions pass, garnering no more response than a few mumbled remarks and some cell phone connection troubles, Schneider—or, at least, his trademark sarcasm—suddenly comes alive.
"Every time I don't like a question," Schneider says, seemingly in jest, "I'm going to pretend that the cell phone goes out."
At least the former frontman for The Ugly Americans and The Scabs finally sounds interested in talking about his music.
"I don't think anyone can get an accurate picture of what I do if you listen to just one of my songs," he says, explaining his sound's genre-jumping mix of funk, country, rap, rock and folk. "To really get a good idea of what Bob Schneider does—if I can talk about myself in the third person in a weird, fucked-up way—you have to see me play live."
Yes, the live concert setting is truly where Schneider has made his mark. Though his studio efforts Lonelyland and I'm Good Now have garnered some national attention, it's his energetic performances and fluctuating set lists that have become somewhat legendary.
"I've only put out maybe eight records," Schneider says, surprisingly unsure, "but we record and sell every show, so there are thousands of live CDs out there, and we always sell a lot of them."
You'd think Schneider might be worried about oversaturating the market—but with a dedicated audience made up of fans of many genres, Schneider says, that's just not the case.
"Sometimes I perform songs that I wrote that day," he admits. "The shows are always evolving, like if you put your iPod on shuffle."
Such experimentation gives life to some of Schneider's better-known songs, such as "The World Exploded Into Love" and "Blue Skies for Everyone."
But Schneider is perhaps best-known for his charisma with the ladies—his concert audiences are consistently female-dominated.
"I basically play music for women," Schneider candidly says. "I would prefer all women in the audience.
"If guys want to pay to get in, they are more than welcome—but I'm primarily concerned about the women having a good time."
Concerned, it seems, to the point of exhaustion.