Someone answered the phone on the second ring. Then dropped the phone. Scrounging sounds. The voice that came from the other end sounded like a very hoarse alien.
"William Smith from Houston Press."
"Oh, man, can you call back in a few hours?" Click.
Oops, my bad... these damn time zones. Bob Wayne's email said 'call at noon,' but I realized it was only 10:30 Pacific time. Hank III's guitar tech and erstwhile leader of Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies sounded like he'd been in bed about twenty minutes. I felt bad — but not as bad as he obviously did. I spent the time waiting to redial Bob Wayne looking over his myspace page, listening to deeply personal acoustic Americana tracks like "Blood to Dust" and "Road Bound."
After the jump, find out what Bob Wayne said once he woke up.
Here's what he said once I called back two hours later:
Houston Press: How'd you get started in the music business?
Bob Wayne: " I grew up in Tri-Cities, over by the Hanford nuclear plant, where they built the bombs dropped on Japan. Me and some friends started this kinda metal band. We just ended up getting messed up, never doin' nothin'."
"I'm 15 years old, playin' electric guitar, smoking dope/ And then I dedicated my life to rocknroll/ I got a drummer, I got a band/ You probably never heard of us, we were called Stickmen / We played all ages shows til the cops ran us outta town/ We moved to the big town chasin' the dream/ We weren't cool enough to make the scene/ We just ended up drinkin' a lot, getting' all strung out"
Houston Press: That song seems pretty autobiographical."
Wayne: "Oh, yeah. It's a real look in the mirror kind of thing. I played real heavy music then, but I got clean and sober and I wrote that song. I was like 'where'd this come from?'"
HP: "How did you hook up with Hank III and end up getting your songs recorded?"
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Wayne: "I've got a buddy in the band Zeke and a buddy of his was working for Superjoint Ritual. They were on tour with Hank III when his merch guy quit. My buddy took that job, and he called to see if I was interesting in roadie-ing. So they flew me out and I lugged gear for the rest of that tour. One night we were all just sittin' around playing guitars and I sang "Blood to Dust." Andy Patton and Joe Buck, who are in Hank's band, said 'kid, you need to come to Nashville and let us do a record'." I'd always secretly said when I turned 35 I was going to Nashville and try to sell some of my songs. I just got there about seven years early.
"I ended up taking a Greyhound all the way from Seattle to Nashville and we recorded a few cool tracks. Then I got promoted from roadie to guitar tech with Hank, and he was good enough to start having me open his shows, which has been the ultimate career jumpstart."
HP: "So what do you do to make ends meet when there's no Hank III tour?"
Wayne: "I work construction in downtown Seattle, pouring concrete, doing demolition. I'm in the union, pay my dues every month. I guess you could say when I'm not entertaining America, I'm building it."
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Now I'm sittin' here stone cold sober Singin' these fucked up songs
HP: "So how do roadie-ing and being a guitar tech compare to performing?"
Wayne: "To me, it's all part of the show. I'm just happy to be in it no matter what I'm doing. It's all fun." - William Michael Smith
Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies perform Sunday, February 4, at Rudyard's, 2010 Waugh Dr., 713-521-0521. For more information about Bob Wayne, visit www.myspace.com/bobwayneandtheoutlawcarnies.