Bob Log III
Every once in a while, there’s a band with the kind of live show that hits the rarefied air of do-not-miss. Bob Log III is a do-not-miss one-man band. He plays fantastic slide guitar with his hands while playing percussion with his feet and singing into the telephone microphone built into his helmet. His live shows are raucous, debauched occasions. He comes through The Saint, 761 S. Virginia St., on April 2 at 8 p.m. Alphabet Cult opens. $5.
I first heard your music in the duo Doo Rag, like 20 years ago. But you’ve been a solo act for a long time now. What are the advantages and disadvantages of performing as a solo artist?
Advantages are this—firstly, as a one man band I get to become the complete master of time. I am completely addicted to controlling time and all of its aspects. Most of the day I have to do what time tells me to do—get to the club for sound check, leave on time in the morning, be ready for the show at a specific time. … But once I am on stage and playing drums and guitar—time has to do what I say. No matter what I say. I can turn time into a floppy rubber band. I can feed it cake. I can let time think it’s moving smoothly, but then suddenly I can push time into the swimming pool and make it wet, anytime I want. I think some piano players might experience this as well, but it is something you can do to time and music only when you play alone. One other advantage is I get all the beer. A disadvantage is I have to carry everything.
How do you feel about the “one-man band” tagline?
Why not? Jessie Fuller, Hasil Adkins, Mr. Quintron are all one-man bands too. They are good company to be in. It’s what I do, and it’s an apt description. I am not a singer-songwriter. That is an improper description. I’m a band.
Your stage outfit is distinctive—a daredevil stuntman jumpsuit and helmet with a built-in telephone mouthpiece microphone. How’d you come up with that? How does the outfit fit with your stage persona?
I did not invent being something to look at onstage. That has been going on since opera and vaudeville. Firstly, I am a guitar player. Everything I do after that is to make the guitar more fun. Suits, balloons, boats, helmet. It’s no different than screaming Jay Hawkins putting a bone through his nose, or Chuck Berry doing the duck walk. When Chuck walked like a duck, it does not make the guitar sound better, but it makes the party louder. I like a loud party, not a quiet, boring one.
Many of your best known songs, like “Clap your Tits,” are celebrations of late-night debauchery. What are some of the reactions, positive and negative, you’ve encountered to that over the years?
I enjoy chaos in musical form. When people in the crowd join me in the chaos, all kind of fun can happen. There are people who have gotten upset when a nice lady claps her tits together, but they are also usually the first to laugh when a fat man in a wheel chair does it. My songs are for everybody to dance too, men women and animals. If a person is not afraid of looking ridiculous we will get along. It’s OK if your hair gets messed up if you are having a good time. If you are too cool to dance or sweat or smile at fun music you might want to go see some other more boring band. … I am making fun of sexuality in music. My songs are not about looking good—they are about embracing the ridiculousness of rock and roll, and smiling so much your face hurts. I did not invent sexuality in music, I just trying to take it places most musicians wouldn’t. It’s a party.
Your stage show often involves audience participation. What’s the best and worst complications that you’ve ever had with that? Have you ever been unable to get anyone from the crowd to volunteer to come up on stage?
Absolutely anything you can think of has happened to me onstage. I have been bit, tackled, tickled, groped, massaged, hugged, kissed and probably pooped on. Not my fault! OK, it’s my fault. When I play a party song, whatever happens to the party is my own fault, and I have one rule—I am not allowed to stop the party whatever is happening. It becomes its own beast. Occasionally nobody comes on stage, and just like the above, if it’s that kind of party, it’s that kind of party. Nothing scares me, even a lonely stage, as long as I am playing guitar the way I like.
Do you consider yourself a blues musician? Why or why not?
Sure, somewhat. My finger-picking guitar style started when I heard Fred McDowell play guitar as a kid. But of course then I turned it up and gave it crazy beats. When you take the blues and turn it into a party, that is just called rock and roll, which is what I do. It comes from the blues—but there is absolutely nothing sad about my songs. I did not grow up on a farm in Mississippi; I grew up playing pinball in Arizona. I play party music that comes from the blues. But I also believe that when Sun House played his guitar in a small juke joint back in the day—it was in a room full of people dancing and debouching and sweating and smiling. They were not all sitting down and complaining. They were having a party.
The last time I saw you was at the old Zephyr Bar here in Reno like a dozen years ago. Do you remember that show? Any other memories or associations with Reno?
I remember riding and playing on Pete [Menchetti]’s eight person bicycle as we rode down the streets of Reno. A man in a fancy car pulled up to us and shouted, “I want to contribute funds to your organization!” When we told him we were not an organization but just eight drunk people on a bicycle, he drove away.
You tour a lot. What are some of the best shows you remember over the years? The worst?
They are all the best! I have played at a deaf kids’ school, an abandoned rugby stadium, rock clubs, cafes, laundromats, birthday parties, weddings, parades and a candy store. I can’t think of a worst show. … Everything I do is because I love playing guitar. That is what motivates me. I get my power from party guitar. Guitar party power.