Having a famous musician as a father can always put pressure on a son or daughter who chooses the same profession. Not so for Bobby Bare Jr. With a blistering sense of humor and an emotional earnestness, Bare has never tried to walk in his father's shoes. Instead, Bare Jr. has released five impressive solo efforts, including this year's Undefeated.
From a tour stop in Chicago and in anticipation of his performance Saturday at the Magnolia Motor Lounge in Fort Worth, Bobby Bare Jr. spoke with DC9 about his musical genes and how he would just as soon be fixing bicycles as singing.
DC9 at Night: Is Undefeated your best record?
Bare Jr.: Of course, every artist thinks their newest record is far better than anything they ever did before. I listen to it quite a bit myself.
Was the songwriting process different for this album?
Whenever a good idea hits me, I just try and seize the moment and run with it as far as I can.
Your own press materials describe the album as your emotional survival guide.
I didn't say that, but somebody did. I didn't set out to make a survival guide, but that's an interesting interpretation.
The reviews have been uniformly great. Do you read the reviews?
Reviews are just people talking about their experience with your music. Of course I get curious. When I am making a record, it's like looking in a mirror; until your bounce the ideas off other people, you don't know what you have. I know what I think I did. I don't want to talk about what I think I did. I'd rather talk about what people actually experience.
Is the record a bit edgier than what you've released in the past?
No, I don't think it is. The last two records were pretty rocking. In comparison, I think this one is fairly quiet. It's not louder than the other records.
It starts out so strong with "North of Alabama by Mornin'."
Yes, now that one is a rocking song.
You wrote "My Baby Took My Baby Away" with Hayes Carll. Is that the first time you've collaborated with him?
We wrote another song before this one. We've played it live. He is an easy person to collaborate with because he is smart and clever.
Seeing that both your father and mother were singers, were you destined for a career in music?
No, I have a brother who is about the same age as me. He has the same genetic material as me, but he doesn't have the same need for attention that I do. I think that pretty much says it.
If you were not playing music, what would you be doing?
I worked in a bicycle repair shop before I started singing. Perhaps I would be fixing bicycles.
What about your degree in psychology?
A degree in psychology is the most worthless thing you can get besides a degree in philosophy. There is nothing you can do with that degree other than go back to college.
Would you consider going back to college?
I would be happy fixing flat tires in the bike shop. It was alright.
You had the band Bare Jr. for a while. Why dissolve that and go the solo route?
The band quit. The bass player and drummer quit. I had a chance to do an album with Bloodshot Records as a solo deal. I told my old label that I could do some acoustic material on a different label. I asked them if they would be OK with that. They did not want to push those acoustic songs on rock radio.
That was when you were on Immortal Records, the same label as Korn and Incubus.
Yes, but the label didn't know who my dad was and they didn't care. They were in California and them signing me had nothing to do with who my dad was. That was very appealing.
You were born and raised in Nashville, the home of country music. What do you think of the current state of the genre?
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There's a lot of great country music coming out of Nashville. There's a tons of great bands. But the music scene is out of my control.
The stuff today seems a far cry from when your dad was making music.
Absolutely not. All these bands are doing on Music Row is trying to cross over into pop music. That's all they are trying to do with Taylor Swift. That's what Patsy Cline did. She wanted to cross over into pop. And she did. Now, what they were trying to cross over to was quite different back then. I don't think any less of the new people for trying to succeed in what is pop music now.