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Ella Guru - Interview

  by Helen Tipping

published: 17 / 11 / 2004

Ella Guru - Interview


One man band Bob Log III has just finished touring with Franze Ferdinand and the Kills. Backstage at a Manchester fif, he talks to Helen Tipping about his unique brand of psycho blues

Meeting with Bob Log III I wasn't quite sure what to expect. "Meet him by the merchandise stall," said the PR. "He'll be the one wearing the helmet." Surely not, I thought, so I told my partner to watch out for a sweaty looking guy – I figured that half an hour on stage in a bubble mask motorcycle helmet is going to be hot work. I was right; all worries that I might have to interview him wearing his trademark helmet disappeared. I was going to be able to understand him, which was just as well - no worries here about not getting enough material - Bob Log III is as entertaining off stage as he is on. Opening for Franz Ferdinand, Bob Log III is virtually unknown here; those who had turned up early enough to see him didn't seem to know what to make of him. A one-man band, he kicks the drums and plays slide guitar, dressed in a shiny all-in-one suit and the aforementioned helmet with a phone microphone inside to pick up his vocals, likes to get the audience participating, but not in the usual way – so more of that later. His songs are funny, and Franz Ferdinand certainly thought so when they invited him to join them on tour. Backstage Bob was joined by 2 Swedish fans who wanted to video the interview for a college project, I set up the recorder and off we went. Always test your technology first - I missed the first 5 minutes as I hadn't turned it on properly. "Don’t' worry," I told him, "I'll try and do the first bit from memory." "Oh no," says Bob, "You'll get my math wrong." Math? Apparently so - the last guy who tried to do it from memory got it all wrong! No worries, Bob, I couldn't do it from memory - and besides there's enough recorded, even with the other support band the Kills’ bass lines as a backdrop, to do a decent interview without getting your math wrong! Technology wasn't on my side or that of the Swedish fans - their video camera broke down part way through and they had to abandon their efforts. For those of you who haven't heard any of Bob Log III’s music, one of his songs is called 'Boob Scotch'. It's about the good feeling you get from having someone put their boob in your scotch. As part of the show Bob invites audience members up on stage to put their boobs in his scotch. I ask him if he's had much success in the UK in getting people to do this: BL : "No not at all, England have only done it a bunch of times. Most countries people do it once maybe. In Australia they’ve got their tops off and started before I even start! Goddamn it, stop it, I'm just having a beer! In Europe it's much more difficult; I don’t know what it is, but the best countries for getting the Boob Scotch thing are the bastardised sons of the English. Japan is the strangest; someone there put her boob in my scotch through her shirt. Even when they want you to sign their boobs in Japan, they lift their shirt up and go 'okay, sign boob.' You have to put your hand up inside the shirt and sign it. I get Dutch boob scotches but not during the show, but I can't count the after show ones, Belgium finally did it – Oh my God, that was a crazy one. A girl jumps on stage, and there happened to be all these children on stage. Don't ask me why, children playing with a beach ball, I love the beach ball idea, but the children? I don't know where they came from. They were running around on stage with their shirts off kicking this ball and this girl jumps on stage when I ask for a boob scotch, which struck me as odd with all the kids, but then I thought boobs are just boobs so what's the big deal? And this girl gets on stage and has me unbutton her shirt, then she turns around and has me undo her bra, which I had some trouble with in front of all these people. Then she turns around and she has 3 tits. I'm not even kidding, all the same size, 3 in a row, so which do you want in your scotch? Which would you pick? - The middle one! When do you ever get the opportunity to pick a middle boob scotch? Anyway, there was a completely silent, flabbergasted room, including myself." I ask him if he has any plans for his next CD: BL : "No, I've been touring for 2 years, doing 240 shows a year, I don't know what the hell I’m doing right now. But after this tour, I have a tour of Spain and then I go home to rest 6 months, and my plan is to get so bored I make a record. That's the way to do it. So many bands go, oh we have to get a record out by July. It's not a race, I'm like do you want me to meet your deadline or do you want a good record? I take my time to get a record that's makes me smile the whole way through and then I'll put it out." PB : "Would you like to do any collaborations, possibly with some other blues artists?" BL : "Sure there's lots of people I'd like to play with; Russell from The John Spencer Blues Explosion wants to drum with me. I'm actually drumming with Franz Ferdinand (he does too!). I hate to tell them I can't really play the drums. I can drum with my feet, but give me sticks in my hand and I'm okay but... I think I'm getting better. But, yeah, I love the one man band thing, there's so much you can do when you're alone you stop the beat and start the beat. You can slow up or ease up, whatever you want to do with it.” PB : “You used to be in a two man band called Doo Ragg with Thermos Malling. Do you intend to do anymore with him?” “I would love to, but he's a poppa. Touring is hard and basically I like to play guitar every day so anyone that can keep up with me come on and try it out.” PB : “You got two girls to clap their boobs together on 'Trike'? Do you have any other plans for using other body parts?” BL : "Nah not really. It just occurred to me one night. I was playing for 2000 lesbians; I was opening for Ani Difranco, but maybe it wasn't really the right crowd for me and I didn't really know what to do. They're all looking at me not quite liking it - somebody didn't do their research - so I asked them to clap their boobs together and nobody would do it. “But I decided it was a good idea and that I'd put it on the record, so I asked my friends, and they said, “Well Bob we like you but not that much”, so I had to go to the back of the newspaper and phone up hookers and none of them would do it. I got turned down by so many you wouldn't believe, I was like hey all you gotta do is come down here and push your boobs together, and they were like - hey you're sick. But in the end I phoned one and she said you want me to do what? I said just clap your boobs together, and she was like I'll be right there. She had more fun than I did; we had to turn her down. But basically nobody does that live. It has happened in a few places though. Every once in a while someone will get on stage, get their boobs out and clap them together. “A lot of people think I'm sexist, but guys have boobs too. We have boobs - they don't do anything, why are they there? Think about it! One time there was a big fat guy in a wheelchair and he joined in - I've no problem with a guy clapping his boobs together as long as he's got rhythm, and if a big fat man claps his tits together when I'm playing guitar then you're all going to remember that show! “I got banned in one place for doing the Boob Scotch thing. They didn't realise that men have boobs as well. They wouldn't let us play, but we got to keep the money! I don't particularly want a man's boob in my drink but if I do it for my girlfriends or something so what, as long as it makes her smile, that's all I'm trying to do is make people smile." PB : "How did Franz Ferdinand find you, did they see you play somewhere?" BL : "We played together in Switzerland, and after the show, they were like, ‘look at his kick drumming, look at the slide guitar how d'you do that?’ And they were just the nicest, coolest guys I've met on tour. And they emailed me a few months later with all these dates. I play my own gigs during the tour in front of 200-300 people, I have a small record label, so I don't have radio play. I don't have videos. It's just me playing out of my car. It's all I want to do is play my guitar every single day, so...." With the outfits and the do it yourself kick drums, Bob Log III may come across as amateurish, but that's just a front, underneath that is a professional attitude to his music: BL : "You can't depend on technology. If my drum machine breaks down I have to keep going. Years ago I went to Lollapalooza. Nine Inch Nails were on, and in the first song Trent Reznor's computer broke down, so did he play guitar? No, he kicks the computer over and runs off stage and it was just like "Oh my computer broke, I can't play now." What a pussy ! So ever since then if the drum machine breaks down, or the amp, it's like do you have the guitar? Then you play. As long as the guitar's there, I can do the show 'cos that's what I do. “ The Swedish fans leave at this point, Bob explains that he's agreed they can tag along as long as they fill in with sitting on his knee for 'I Want Your Shit on My Leg' and doing the Boob Scotch bit of the show if he can't get any volunteers. BL : "When I do my own show, I can get people to do that, but at these gigs people are like maybe I shouldn't, maybe I should and I can't spend the whole song egging somebody on. One time at this festival in Australia they said they had some girls backstage who would do it, but I said this is Australia there's got to be someone who'll put her boob in my drink. There was one girl in the front row, and I had to get all the way down without spilling my drink from a stage that was taller than I am, hanging by my fingers, I got to her and she put her boob in my drink and I could hear 8000 people going "Way hay" so I look up and there's a giant 50 foot monitor with this boob going in out, in out, in out. In all my writing of 'Boob Scotch' I never imagined this would happen ever - 8000 people just on their knees screaming. I didn't even know it was there until I heard the screaming, 'cos I can't see so good with the helmet." PB : "Do you find it gets in the way much? Do you think you'll keep on with it?" BL : "No it helps really, when girls are getting their boobs out, that would just distract me and I'd mess up. With the helmet it's just me and my guitar. It doesn't matter if it's 8000 or 8 people. It's just me and the guitar. I need to concentrate - I'm singing, playing guitar and kicking shit - 3 drums basically so I can't be distracted. It's not difficult once I learned to do the back kick. It's kind of like a double kick but I'm only doing half of it and then there's the drum machine - that was kind of hard to learn at first> The first time I did it by accident, and that was cool. All my favourite shit started as an accident" "I kinda think I scared people tonight, I think sometimes the first time people see me they’re a little overwhelmed, but it's either you like me or you don't. This is what I do. The danger of doing so much is I forget I what I do, someone will say - you jumped off the stage and bit my girlfriend on the neck, and I'll be like I did not and then there'll be a picture of me lying on the floor biting someone's neck and I'll be like, wait a minute, that's not what I normally do - the guitar is number one, the guitar is number one" "England's getting better for touring for me too. I've learned where to get the real coffee instead of the Nescafe. The first time I came here that was all I could get was the Nescafe. It's horrible. I know this is a tea drinking country and I should probably get into tea, but you guys got real coffee now at all the rest stops and everything which I'm thankful for. “America used to be the same way. We had really shitty coffee for years, I'd be touring in Alabama and you'd get water that had had a brown shoe dipped in it and they'd call it coffee. But now there's a Starbucks on the side of the road almost everywhere, which a lot of people are like “corporate McDonalds fucking chain”, but it's like fuck you, good coffee I'll take it. I don't care; I've got to drive to fucking Atlanta give me fucking good coffee over the shoe water any goddamned day. If there's a local store, absolutely I'll use that, but if I've got 4 hours to get to Atlanta for a show and I see a big sign that says Starbucks at the side of the road, then thank the fucking lord, 'cos that Alabama shoe water man, you don't wanna be drinking that stuff and have to drive all night, yeah, convenience. People are like that with Walmart for putting shops out of business, but it's like it's 11 o'clock at night and I need a toothbrush, a bucket and some shoes and some tyres for my car and I need it NOW! Here it is and it's half price of everywhere else. It'll get us one day, when there's nothing left but Walmarts and they just jack their prices up we'll go Oh Fuck!" "I like to think that since I've been to Manchester I might get a few emails saying, Bob Log, I went home last night and my girlfriend stuck her boob in my drink and then I smiled, thank you Bob Log. You should try it for your boyfriend.” PB : "Yeah I'll try - see if it works for him" BL : "Yeah wait ‘til he's had a bad day, like honey I've just had a bad day - well quit talking about it and doomp, and I swear to God he'll just smile and the whole day. Whatever's happened will just go. It just totally does." PB : "People can take it a bit too seriously, can't they?" BL : "Oh so much they do, music, movies, all kinds of stuff, people this is entertainment. I'm from Chuck Berry land you know, Chuck Berry's doing 'Maybelline' and you know he does that duck walk, and they'll go why does he do that. Does it make the song sound better? No. He doesn't smile at all - he's like Beethoven doing the duck walk and everyone is like, Hahahahaha, and you can't help but scream when he does his shit. He's one of my favourite things in the world, I love his shit. The Cramps do the same thing. He's dead serious and we're all laughing our heads off. “ACDC when I was a kid, the same thing - the craziest coolest guitar I'd ever heard and these stupid songs about nothing with a grown up man dressed as a school boy, I was just doubled over laughing 'til my stomach hurt - I love that shit when you take cool guitar & make somebody smile - there's no better feeling for me anyway. "I love Peaches, I haven't played with her yet - she's amazing - she's almost a female version of me she sings about tit, she sings about dick, she's just gonna get on stage and make you laugh, with a hard on. And when does that happen in your whole life, laughing with a hard-on, never, you just can't not get both reactions. “She's from Canada but she lives in Berlin - I think Canada is gonna be taking over the world> We don't realise what an important country Canada is. They've got more land than America. They're as funny as fuck and their music is amazing. It's such a cool country. It's got all the convenience and cool shit of America without all our bull shit, and then all the coolness & relaxedness of Europe. It's just combined in this really huge country with all this amazing nature and just fun easy people, including the cops. If you have an altercation with the cops you're much less likely to get your head crushed in than you do in America. It can happen, but it's not as bad. I love Canada." Bob’s probably getting hungry by now, as his mind turns to food: BL : "Do you guys have Eggs Benedict for breakfast here anywhere? It sounds like such an English food. I don't know where it comes from. I've gotta find out. You guys do beans and blood sausage (black pudding) and I ain't eating that blood sausage shit no more. Everyone's always seeing what food I'll like - I will try it. You show me something weird I will eat it but there's a few things I will not eat again and that's one of those giant scabby sausages. That's sucking on a scab man, you realise it's a scab? Do you eat that? You can tell me." PB : "No, I've tried it in the past" BL : "I love your bacon and sausage and I love how you deep fry toast it's like this is so good, but it's got to be so bad for me" "Where I live is Mexico basically, up 'til 90 years ago. It's got spicy assed food, but they do have one of the weirdest foods on the planet - it's a cattle udder, they cut the nipple off, deep fry it Mexican style and it looks like a hot dog and when you go to take a bite there's hot milk in the middle - they cook it for Mexican little boys birthday parties. The first time I went to my friend's birthday party he goes, "Hey my grandma she make Tupadelache" I was like "was is it" he said "eat one, eat one" I took one bite, and it was, what the fuck man it's a hot dog with milk in it. He said "no it's a cow teat" and I was like "don't ever do that to me again." It was gross, The little kids think they're great - it's like a little cake for Mexican kids. “I'll eat anybody's weird food. In Japan I went out to dinner with Sony records, cos that's who handle my shit over there. They take me out for special dinners, and I know for a fact they'll order weird shit they don't normally eat 'cos they know I'll try it, but in a good natured way. And Yuri the girl, who's amazing, says "This my favourite, you eat" and I said, wait a minute, I'm looking at it and it looks like snot and sand and boogers mixed in bowl and it's cold, so I said, "Fine you eat it first" and she went "Fine" and eats some and so I eat some and it is, it's snot and sand and boogers and rubber, you can't chew this part. It's sliding all over the place, and this part’s gristly, so I said "Okay Yuri what was that?" she says "You know cow, she has four stomachs, this stomach number two" so thank you very much I ate stomach number two - never again!! The Kills finish, and Bob’s off to get something to eat before he has to put his jump suit and helmet back on to join Franz Ferdinand on stage for a bit of drumming. I hope he didn’t get any weird shit to eat!

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Ella Guru - Interview

Ella Guru - Interview

Ella Guru - Interview

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