It's nearly 3 a.m., and amid the din of workers sweeping up piles of broken bottles after another sold-out show at the Satellite Lounge, Scabs front man Bob Schneider is quietly comparing his craft to that of a fisherman. "Every day I get up, and I write and record stuff," he says. "It's like you're out there fishing every day. Sometimes you get the big bass, and a lot of times you get the little guppy. Twelve years can go by, and even though you're better at fishing, there's no guarantee you'll catch anything."
The singer's dime-store philosophy and measured demeanor are quite a contrast to the persona who, moments earlier, had whipped the Satellite crowd into a potty-mouthed frenzy. Yet Austin's man of the moment confesses that he won't be screaming "Pussy Fever" into the mike forever. Older, wiser, but still oddly naive, Bob Schneider, the solo artist and raconteur, sees himself evolving into his idol, Tom Waits, and singing lots of songs about being afraid to fail or what it's like to be a diamond ring.
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Cuts from his two quirky solo albums released over the past 18 months, Songs Sung and Played on Guitar at the Same Time and Lonelyland, are getting adult-alternative airplay. A new disc, Underneath the Onion Trees, featuring Schneider on vocals accompanied by Mitch Watkins on acoustic guitar, is due this month. Major labels are hot on his trail. "Five or six years ago, sure, I had 'Pussy Fever.' Now," says Schneider, "I don't know what it is. Maybe steak fever." So while fans in his adopted hometown of Austin are embracing the kinder, gentler Bob Schneider (and are still willing to bankroll his new pursuits by continuing to pack Scabs shows), the jury is still out on how the new Schneider will play in other markets. He's betting it will work. "I'll admit I was kind of afraid to be out there under my own name until last year when I was out there by myself, and people stuck around to hear the whole set. So it was a huge confidence boost." Bob Schneider performs Thursday, July 6, in a rescheduled show at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington. Stephen Bruton opens. $10. For more information, call (713)869-COOL. Tickets purchased for the July 15 show will be honored at the door.