The Bobs celebrate the holidays with song-length ‘Biographies’
The mostly Seattle-based new wave a cappella band, the Bobs, celebrates the holidays at the Triple Door with comical seasonal fare, plus tunes from their new CD, “Biographies,” which recounts the lives of Julia Child, Fidel Castro and others. Dec. 29, 2013.
Seattle Times arts writer
“The Bobs After Christmas Holiday Show” is now an annual event at the Triple Door. And this year, in addition to such seasonal Bobs classics as “Fifty Kilowatt Tree,” the new wave a cappella “band” is throwing some “brief lives” into the mix.
Very brief — as in under four minutes.
Their new CD, “Biographies,” consists of song-portraits of 13 people, plus one autobiographical number, delivered in intricate harmonies accompanied by the Bobs’ trademark mouth percussion.
Subjects include a Soviet cosmonaut (“Valentina Tereshkova” ), Fidel Castro (“Fidel’s Fashion Manifesto”), Mozart’s opera librettist (“Lorenzo da Ponte” ), Julia Child (“Julia’s Too Tall”) and frozen-food magnate Clarence Birdseye (“Clarence Birdseye Flash Frozen Food,” set to Queen’s “Flash,” the theme for the 1980 movie version of “Flash Gordon”).
In a chaotic four-way email session earlier this month, band members Richard Bob Greene, Matthew Bob Stull and Dan Bob Schumacher (all Seattle-based) and the band’s newest member, Angie Bob Doctor (in San Francisco), talked about their new concept album and more.
Here’s an edited version of our exchange:
Q: Were all four Bobs involved in coming up with biographical subjects? Or was that all the doing of Richard, who writes most of the songs? And were there any subjects you wanted to do, but weren’t able to include?
DAN BOB SCHUMACHER: We had several brainstorming sessions. ... Don’t rightly recall how many other candidates for biographies there initially were, but we did discuss the desire to include more women in the considerations.
RICHARD BOB GREENE: Marie Curie, for one. But I couldn’t find the hook I wanted to write about. ... I did a lot of research and reading into who would be a “likely” subject. The Lorenzo da Ponte bio is an idea that I’ve been working on for almost five years.
Q: How much competition was there to do the Julia Child impersonation?
ANGIE BOB DOCTOR: It was pretty clear that Dan was the Julia dude. ... He already has a dress and heels.
DAN: With the heels, I’m about 6’7”.
Q: Will Dan do any cooking onstage?
DAN: I may be cooking, but not the way you might think.
MATTHEW BOB STULL: I think he will try to skin an eel!
Q: Angie, as the newest Bob, are you constantly told about a golden age when new-wave a cappella groups dominated the air waves and former members of Cream, Talking Heads and the Beatles flocked to Bobs appearances waiting to hear vastly improved cover versions of their songs?
MATTHEW: There was a golden age?
DAN: I thought we were still in copper.
ANGIE: Not so much on the “golden age,” but the initiation period seems to continue forever since I’ll likely be the “new girl” for a long time. I had a ton of tunes to absorb at the beginning, and fast, because I came on board at the end of August 2011 and the first gigs were in November.
Q: “Valentina Tereshkova” may be the loveliest Bobs tune ever concocted. Agree? Disagree?
MATTHEW: I agree, and so I sent a copy of the new CD to the Russian Space Agency.
RICHARD: “Valentina” is also my favorite tune on the record — probably because it doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve ever written for the group.
Q: Dan, on “Fidel’s Fashion Manifesto” you do a “same old same old” refrain that’s beautifully catarrh-enhanced. Did you have to develop a special throat disease to pull that off?
DAN: I received years of operatic training (true) so that I could holler, yell, squeal, and spit at an audience. My voice teacher is still in shock.
Michael Upchurch: email@example.com