Abandoned in Albuquerque, he discovered how to play keyboards, write songs and run marathons
By Marisa Demarco
He's the guy at the rock club with asymmetrical eye makeup and oversized knee-high boots, the animated keyboard player for Shoulder Voices and Unit 7 Drain, the dude with an angel and devil on his shoulders, both manufactured at home.
Things You Might Not Know About Little Bobby:
1) He grew up in Waco, Texas.
2) He's run four marathons (five by the time this article hits the streets).
3) He's releasing a solo album that took him six years to write.
4) He didn't know how to play keyboards when he joined Unit 7 Drain.
6) He wants you to dress up to attend his CD release party on Saturday, Oct. 27, but he forgot to put it on the flyer.
From the top: Little Bobby grew up in Texas. Post-college, he found himself working in a head shop with a useless biology degree under his belt. He met a girl. She said, "Let's get out of Texas." Bobby said, "Yeah, it sucks here. It's hot. Everybody's a Republican." They came to Albuquerque six years ago because The Gas Pipe chain he was working at has stores out here, too. After a year, the girl dumped him. "I just felt abandoned in Albuquerque," he says. "I also quit my job, wrecked my car, got a new shithole apartment in the UNM area, started a new job and met my friend Clifford." Clifford's known as The Musk in Shoulder Voices and contributes guitars, keys and drums on Bobby's new album.
When Little Bobby was about to turn 30 a few years ago, he decided he needed to do something physical. He'd never run or been an athlete at any other point in his life. "I thought I could just sign up for a marathon, and if I didn’t finish, I didn’t finish." He registered for the Duke City Marathon a year in advance. His first finishing time was strong: 26.2 miles in three hours and 54 minutes. He came in 75th out of 400.
Bobby always wanted to make music. "When I was in college, all those guys were in bands, and I was so jealous, but I never did it." He saw a flyer at Natural Sound that read: Unit 7 Drain needs a keyboard player. "I thought, 'I saw those guys one time. I'll call ’em,'" he laughs. "I got in Unit 7 Drain and [singer/guitarist] Harry's like 'Do you play keyboards?' and I'm like, 'Not really.'"
Little Bobby's The Sound of Letting Go was written over the course of Bobby's time in New Mexico, some of it tortured, some of it quite peppy. Layers of effects, sample collages and multitracked vocals create psychedelic cushioning around his earnest, exposed lyrics. "It's like every single band I like crammed into me and then coming out," he says. He hopes his album presents both the extremely happy and extremely sad from song to song, or maybe even within a single track. "I wanted to write songs that felt like they went together," he says. "I ended up going back and taking stuff from years ago, and I realized they all kind of go together; just songs from my life with these people in these situations."
Get Little Bobby's new disc free at his CD release on Saturday, Oct. 27, at Burt's Tiki Lounge with Black Maria, Shoulder Voices and Unit 7 Drain. Please wear a costume.
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Erika Wennerstrom • singer-