KWUR: You just heard three songs, live in the studio, with Bobby Bare Jr., and band…
Bobby Bare, Jr.: Sometimes this is called the Young Criminals Starvation League, but we’ll call it the Bobby Bare Jr. Band.
K: They are playing tonight in St. Louis, at Off Broadway. Thanks for coming in guys, I thought that sounded real nice.
K: My first question – could you give us some background about the American Bread EP, the second song you played was off that?
BB: Yeah, it’s equal parts guilty pleasure and I’m in complete awe of those songs. I love those bands. Their arrangements are amazing. Some of the words are quite questionable, quite bad, but the songs are so good. Alligator lizards in the air, man. There plants and rocks and birds and things.
BB: Stuff. Just stuff, yeah.
K: Deep words.
K: Has that been a long-in-the-works project? Labor of love?
BB: I’ve been talking about it, I’ve been threatening to the label that I was going to do it for a long time.
K: How do they feel about it? Did it take some convincing?
BB: No, I put it out myself actually. I just kept telling them, “You know, I’m gonna do this thing, and I’m gonna put it out myself.” And that’s what it is.
K: Seems like you’ve got your hands in a lot of different things right now. Is the Shel Silverstein tribute album, has that come out yet? Is it in the works still?
BB: It’s 80-85% done. Kris Kristofferson, My Morning Jacket, Andrew Bird, me, my dad, Ray Price, Billy Bob Thorton’s band – The Boxmasters… Band of Horses recorded a song but I don’t think we’re going to end up getting to use it. Who else am I leaving out? I’m trying to get members of The Decemberists to perform with Emmy Lou Harris this week. My daughter, Isabella Bare.
K: That sounds exciting. I like that the selection is pretty diverse. I feel like either you usually get the indie bands only or you get the big stars.
BB: Yeah, it’s basically everybody my dad has on speed-dial and I have on speed-dial, is the way it worked out. Oh, John Prine is on there.
K: Are you on it?
BB: Yeah, I do a song called “Daddy What If” with my daughter.
K: Oh, well, that’s perfect.
BB: Daddy, what if the sun stops shining, what would happen then? My daughter sings that part, and I do a response. It makes you cry every time you hear it.
K: You sang that with your dad, right?
BB: I sang it with my dad – dad did a whole album with Shel Silverstein in 1974. It was nominated for a Grammy, it was a duet between me and my dad when I was 5 or 4 years old. It was nominated for a Grammy for country duet of the year, and we got beat out by the Pointer Sisters.
K: Are you still a little bitter about that?
BB: Yeah, I’m sure if the Pointer Sisters would not have beaten me that night, I’m sure I’d be getting laid every night of the week. And I blame them specifically, I know that’s what it is.
K: Well maybe this time you can get it again.
K: Was that part of the impetus behind recording it again?
BB: Yeah, and if you see those women you better tell them, I’m out to get ‘em. I’m not afraid of them, they don’t scare me.
K: They don’t scare you one bit.
BB: I think they’re probably about 70 by now, so it wouldn’t look to cool, me beating up a bunch of old ladies.
K: Not too cool, but you’re thinking about it still.
BB: Yeah, it’s eating a hole in me like you wouldn’t believe.
K: I’m excited about that [album], personally I’m a big fan of [Shel Silverstein’s] song-writing. If I’m correct, he used to read your songs when you wrote them?
BB: Yes, he would critique every song I wrote, up until he died, which was right after my first record.
K: Was he a harsh critic?
BB: Yeah, he was tough, he’d show where I was lazy. If he didn’t understand something, he’d let me know where I would lose him in the song. And I still cover one of his song on every album. I try to do a Shel Silverstein song on every album.
K: Other than the American Bread album, do you have an album in the works right now?
BB: Yeah, I have a Bobby Bare, Jr. record that me and David Vandervelde are going to be working on in November and December, is the plan.
K: Is there an estimated release date?
BB: Hopefully March of next year, about the same time the Shel thing comes out.
K: Which song are you gonna do of his on that?
BB: On that one? I don’t know. I don’t know because we’re about to fill up this album with so many Shel songs, it’d be weird to have somebody do a cover of the Rolling Stones and then I cover it on my record the same week, you know? But there’s so many songs, and I usually do songs that nobody’s really done before.
K: Do you have a favorite?
BB: Well we’re big rock singers, we’ve got golden fingers, and we’re loved wherever we go. We sing about beauty and we sing about truth, at ten thousand dollars a show. That one. We take all kinds of pills that give us all kinds of thrills, but the thrill that we will never know, is the thrill that getcha, when you getcha picture, on the cover of the Rolling Stone. Rolling stone. That one this week is my favorite.
K: But it changes?
BB: Yeah. There’s a lot of songs.
K: Well, the other thing that I was really curious about, that I read on your website, is an audition you did on Broadway…
BB: That’s another big sore spot, thanks for bringing that one up too. Thanks, man.
K: I guess that’s what this is all about.
BB: Yeah, I auditioned – somebody on Broadway called my booking agent and said, had Bobby ever considered doing Broadway? And they wanted me to audition for Shrek The Musical. Which has actually already come and went, it did horribly, so I missed that bullet. But, it probably would have paid really good, even as a failure. Anyways, I flew to New York City and went to Broadway and auditioned for Shrek The Musical. I guess they figured they needed a big, large person to put in a green costume, is all I can think.
K: Had you ever considered that, before?
BB: Never in my life. And I was so blown away that I actually got to go to Broadway and audition. You know, I got to see that process. It was like all the chubby gay guys from the Broadway scene were called out…
K: And you.
BB: And me, to audition for Shrek. I was the only guy not wearing something green. All the other guys had either a shirt that was green, or bright green jeans, because they thought, “Oh man, yeah, green, Shrek, they’re gonna add it up, it’s gonna get me the gig.” So maybe that’s what happened, I didn’t wear green. It could have been me.
K: Well, if all the other ones wore green, you’d think that that would have helped you.
BB: Maybe it just kept them from making that Shrek connection. Maybe that was it; “think green,” I guess, is the message.
K: So you’re a little bitter about that, too?
BB: Oh yeah.
K: Almost won a Grammy, almost was Shrek…
BB: Do you know how awesome my kids would have felt in elementary school, if they’re going around the room, saying, “What does your daddy do?” “He’s an accountant.” “What does your daddy do?” “He’s a truck driver.” “What does your daddy do?” “MY DAD IS SHREK. WHO’S YOUR DAD?” Yeah, it’s hurting my children now, I guess, but they’ll get over it.
K: I guess instead, you’re just going to be in a band.
BB: Yeah, go back to my day job.
K: Back to the 9 to 5.
BB: Minivan across America.
K: [Tonight’s] probably gonna be a good show…
BB: Probably. It might be horrible.
K: What do you think?
BB: I think it has the potential to be really great. We usually have a lot of people down there. The last time I played here, I think, it was just as my Pixies tribute band.
K: What’s that called?
BB: Is She Weird, Is She White. And just by coincidence, I’m opening up for Frank Black in Portland later this month, as Bobby Bare Jr. But Charles is well aware that I am the singer in the best Pixies tribute band ever, so we’ll have to reconnect.
K: Did he choose you specifically for that reason?
BB: No, the guy who books the event chose me because he knows I’m a big Frank Black fan, and I would do well opening up for Frank Black’s new band. But, one of the people in his new band got pregnant, so Charles is going to do the show as Frank Black and not his new band.
K: I guess you’re not on tour right now, but you’re playing occasionally?
BB: Yeah, we were in Boston last weekend, Madison and Minneapolis the weekend before that. We’re about to do Chicago, Portland, Seattle, and then… Spain? Yeah, Brooklyn, then Spain.
K: Sounds good. Thanks for coming in. Any last words for our listeners?