BOB celebrates a decade
I looked up 'bob' in the dictionary a while back, explains BOB guitarist/vocalist Rich Hudson. "One of the definitions said it was the weight at the end of a pendulum."
As the bob-dangling pendulum swings, so has the career of the humbly yet boldly monikered Atlanta band. Currently, the trio is in an upswing, celebrating 10 years of their unique experimental rock music.
To commemorate the decade of BOB, the band is offering their newest album, the aptly-titled Pendulum, to anyone who asks for a copy. "We even pay postage," says Hudson. "All anyone has to do is e-mail us with their address at our website (www.bob-atlanta.com ) and we will mail them one."
BOB has always been a non-profit venture, he explains. "It's just important that this new album gets heard, so if people want to hear it, we want them to have it."
So far, the band has received a "surprising number" of requests for the disc. Fans as far away as Spain and Belgium have even asked for copies.
Hudson adds that the growing overseas interest in BOB should serve them well when the band tours Europe next spring. BOB is planning some additional distribution to help with routing and expenses, but if that doesn't go as planned, the group will tour abroad anyway. "It will be a gift to ourselves for making music for 10 years." Hudson adds that he's proud the band has existed an entire decade without compromising artistically.
When BOB formed in 1990, New York natives Hudson and drummer Eric Ingram had no preconceived notions about a sound, image or even band name. "We weren't really going after a minimal sound, we just sort of wound up that way, " Hudson recalls. "We never let the fact that we were a trio and pretty stripped-down stand in the way of going for a monstrous sound."
As for the rather bland, yet functional name, Hudson says it was just a placeholder for a while, then stuck. "We played a house party and offered if anyone could come up with a better name, we'd give them a case of PBR." Obviously, nobody won the beer.
BOB roared on the early '90s scene along with members of like-minded bands Flap, Pineal Ventana and the El Caminos. "I think we've all lasted so long because we're all still passionate about making good music." Gigging anywhere they could, BOB gathered a following by being persistent not glamorous.
Self-Rising Records in Athens released the first BOB project, a red-vinyl single in '91 and gave the band a slot on its Refuel compilation. Better venues followed, and soon BOB was headlining The Point, the former rock venue in Little Five Points, and released Complex Organism Blues, their first full-length album.
Often playing with Tweezer, Heinous Beinfang and on other odd combo bills, BOB began to solidify its reputation as an aggressive and often abrasive live unit. Larger crowds and several record companies started showing some interest in the band, as well.
"But labels, of any kind, have never interested us much," says soft-spoken Hudson. "A band can do so much on their own these days, with the Internet and modern technology. "
By mid-'96, things had slowed considerably for BOB. Internal problems had led to less live shows and a personnel change. Kat Gass joined on bass and brought the group a welcome breath of fresh air. "She's so optimistic," Hudson says proudly. "She's really made the band fun again." BOB's second album, Rounded at the Free End, recorded before Gass joined, was "one of the most miserable experiences we had, so we were glad to be getting away from that time period. Kat made it all a pleasure again, really."
Hudson acknowledges that the pondering Sonic Hedges, the band's quieter '98 effort, "might have alienated some people, but we were still doing what we wanted." He points out that each BOB song "has a life of its own ... The song dictates the direction."
The direction of Pendulum is as scatter-shot as any BOB effort, but this time the chaos is much more under control. "My single biggest infleuence is WREK," Hudson says, citing Georgia State's free-form radio station. "I like the fact that you can hear every type of music, often in one sitting."
Like Hudson's favorite station, BOB's latest music reflects a variety of inspirations. Distorted and distressed guitars growl with a newly found, restrainded maturity. Ingram's splintery drumming and Gass' rumbling bass propel the BOB rocket to other worlds.
"We like sci-fi, but the record isn't intentionally spacey," says the guitarist. However "Molotov Cocktail," a song about "destroying the Earth and moving to Mars," and "Regenocide," a tale of aliens watching life on Earth unfold, suggest otherwise.
Other selections deal with the tensions of human relationships and the moodshifts of internal struggles. "We didn't set out to do any kind of concept album, our songs just reflect our vision at the time."
Hudson usually avoids any categorization of the band. "As far as an appropriate description, I guess I've never really known what to call us," Hudson says with a chuckle. "A friend of ours just calls it 'music for the day after the aliens take over.' I think that kinda works."