Austin-Based Singer Songwriter, Bob Schneider, talks about his journey to becoming a musician, his favorite restaurants in Austin, and his favorite spots to grab a coffee. He also shares words of wisdom for aspiring musicians!
Lauren — Travel and Write Today: How did you initially decide to become a musician? How old were you when you started writing songs?
Bob Schneider: The first song I remember writing, was called ‘Love Shoes’, in 11th grade I believe. I didn’t decide to become a musician until I moved to Austin, after dropping out of art school. Up until that point, it was just something I did for fun, but I never really thought seriously about doing it for a living. While I was attending school at UTEP, I heard about the music scene in Austin, and I was playing keyboards in a band in El Paso – they were toying with the idea of moving there. I thought it over, and it sounded interesting, so I decided to do it. The band bailed at the last minute, so I ended up moving here alone in 1989, with $300 and no transportation except my two feet. It was pretty inexpensive to live in Austin back then though, and within a week I’d found a place to live, and landed a job at Mr Gatti’s Pizza, and I still had $25 left over.
TWT: This is amazing! I love hearing stories about people following their dreams.
TWT: I know you were born in Michigan. Do you ever get back there?
BS: Not very often. I play in Detroit every few years, but that’s about it. we moved when I was 2, so I don’t really know anyone that is still living there.
TWT: What are some of your go-to restaurants and bars in Austin?
BS: Pieous is one of my favorites. I don’t usually get the pizza, even though it’s terrific. I order the Caesar salad with a side of the pastrami. it’s sooooo great. big fan of ATX Cocina. If friends come to visit, I usually take them to the Salt Lick. It’s got that great Texas vibe and the BBQ is great. I also take folks to Rudy’s, mainly because it’s at a gas station, which is kind of fun. As for drinks, I loooooove Austin tea Xchange Cafe in the Bee Caves Galleria. How good can tea be, right? Well, it’ll knock your socks off. It’s incredible. I love Taco Hhack breakfast taco’s, but there isn’t one close to home, but if you live in the city, they’re all over the place.
TWT: I’m adding all of these spots to my list! I was in Austin for ACL back in 2009, and we had BBQ at Stubb’s, but I’ve been wanting to try Salt Lick! I also have to try a Caesar Salad with a side of pastrami – I wouldn’t have thought of that combination, but now I’m intrigued!
TWT: What is one of your favorite songs you’ve written? (One of my favorites is 40 Dogs! I remember hearing it live for the first time at the Brighton Music Hall. It was definitely a memorable moment).
BS: I’m pretty proud of the song. I’ve written over two thousand at this point, and they are kind of like babies. There are a few that stand out from the bunch though. I’m really proud of the collection of songs from my current release, ‘In a Roomful of Blood with a Sleeping Tiger’. The album is about being an adult and those adult relationships with women, my children, my own mortality and the death of friends. It might be the best collection of songs I’ve ever put out on one album.
TWT: It is such a beautiful album – I’ve truly had ‘American Jesus’ and ‘Small Dreams’ on repeat!
BS: Small Dreams in particular is really about my relationship with my wife. I like how small my real life is. it’s really just my little family, wife, daughter, son and a few friends and relatives. It’s the only thing that truly matters. don’t get me wrong, I love what I do for a living, but it’s the icing on the cake really. My family is what I treasure.
TWT: That is so beautiful.
TWT: What are some of your favorite books?
BS: Lonesome Dove, and the sequelComache Moon (Larry McMurtry) – and the prequel that goes along with it. It’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had reading. A close second is the Harry Potter series though. I love Hyperion (Dan Simmons) and it’s three sequels as well. Similar in scope to The Lord of the Rings books which I loved as a kid, but haven’t revisited since then. I really love books that take me to an alien place that I haven’t been to before, so I’m a huge science fiction fan, but any sort of remote different sort of place is fun. Geek Love aboutcarnie life (Katherine Dunn), Life of Pi (Yann Martel) – being on a boat with a tiger, c’mon. Oh, and I really love the book, Empire of the Summer Moon (S. C. Gwynne), which is all about the Comanches, and parts of the book take place in this part of Texas which is interesting.
TWT: What is your go-to coffee order, and from where?
BS: My favorite is Ruta Maya, but I think you can only get it at the airport. Black drip is my jam. You can buy the beans at HEB, so that’s what I put in my espresso machine at home. If I can’t do Ruta Maya, then I’m a Starbucks guy all day long. I’m like one of those people that’s been in prison so long, they ‘like’ prison food. I hated Starbucks when I first tried it, but now, it’s just what the doctor ordered. Now, if you can hit a Starbucks reserve, then I recommend getting a Clover made with Aged Sumatra. You’ll have a good time with that drink.
TWT: Note to self: Find the nearest Starbucks Reserve! I think the closest one is in NYC.
TWT: Where is your favorite place to watch the sunrise/sunset?
BS: I live out in bee caves, and the sun coming up or going down over the hill country here is about as beautiful as it gets.
TWT: What advice would you give to other aspiring musicians?
BS: Oh, probably, do something else, I guess. It’s not easy, so only do it if you ‘have’ to do it. I make music and art because I feel like, if I don’t do that, I’ll literally die. I know that that’s not true, but that’s the way I ‘feel’, and so I have to do it. If you’re one of those types of people, then I would say, have fun and make music that you find interesting, and don’t make music that you think other people will like, unless it truly is something that you love. At the end of the day, that’s what you’re going to be playing, so do it for yourself.
TWT: I feel the same way about writing – it is something I absolutely have to do…
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