Growing Pains: Bob Schneider Reflects On Life And Death On New Album

Austin's beloved singer songwriter Bob Schneider returns to Houston on Saturday, June 16 for two performances at the Heights Theater.
Austin's beloved singer songwriter Bob Schneider returns to Houston on Saturday, June 16 for two performances at the Heights Theater. Photo By Bob Schneider

Benjamin Franklin set a clear expectation about life when he said in a letter to a friend that the only certainties were death and taxes. For Austin-based and beloved artist Bob Schneider, the first was heavy on his mind while writing his new album In A Room Full of Blood With A Sleeping Tiger.

The new album is due out in August of this year and Schneider will be performing at The Heights Theater on Saturday, June 26 for both an early and late show.

“Over the last ten years I’ve had friends who I thought were going to live for a long time who have died for various reasons. You start realizing, not in an abstract and intellectual way, but in a real way that everybody is going to die and they are already starting to die,” says Schneider of the metaphor which became the title for the album after his closest circle rejected his original title, Getting Older.

“The fact of the matter is I’m in this room and I can't get out and there's this tiger in the room that's going to take everybody down eventually. It might be sleeping now, but eventually that tiger is going to get up and it's going to take me down too.”

Despite the grim title, In A Room Full of Blood With A Sleeping Tiger is a light and poppy listen filled with Schneider’s trademark and highly engaging storytelling songwriting style with heavy autobiographical elements.

“The Sun Is Coming” comforts listeners with it’s upbeat guitar riffs and relatable lyrics reassuring everyone that despite the darkness, the light is bound to follow.

Schneider has a real knack for writing heartfelt and touching lyrics that could push even the toughest person to the brink of tears but he just as easily can elicit a laugh in the same breath.

“Lord Of The Flies” is a perfect example of this dynamic that he has truly mastered in his almost 30-year career where he has kept busy releasing over a dozen albums, mostly on his own label Shockorama.

“The whole record is almost a story about a person. The person is a lot like me obviously, and in all of the songs I write about my relationship, or the narrator's relationship, with the world and you have a different relationship with the world when you're 20, 30, 40 and 50.”

Schneider found inspiration not only in the changes experienced with simply growing older, but also with watching his children grow, getting to know them as individuals and his ever evolving relationship with his wife.

“My wife is definitely my muse,” he says. “All the songs I wrote are based on my relationship with her, which is kind of all over the place, which is wonderful. It's what I want and it’s the sort of relationship I crave.”

Schneider is very happy with his new album and aside from his 2001 release Lonelyland, which really put him on the map as a singer songwriter, he says A Room Full Of Blood With A Sleeping Tiger is the only other album that he wouldn’t change at all if given the chance.

Though he was initially known for fronting rock bands like The Ugly Americans and The Scabs in the early ‘90s, Schneider grew his fan base mainly with his solo work and long standing residency at Austin’s Saxon Pub where he has played every Monday night since the late ‘90s.

During the shutdown, Schneider took his residency online where he performed every Monday for a virtual audience. His weekly gig at the Saxon Pub has become a kind of family for him and others as people return week after week.

Now that the Saxon Pub will reopen to the public following the COVID-19 shutdown, Schneider plans on picking back up his in person weekly gig and maintaining the online performance for Tuesday nights.

“The main reason that I decided that I was going to do Monday nights again at Saxon Pub is I just feel like there's not many links to the old Austin left, and I know that even saying this it sounds a little pompous, but it does feel like it's one of the things that ties the current Austin in with the old Austin.”

For a prolific songwriter like Schneider, the weekly shows, his Patreon account and his two podcasts, The Song Club and I’m OK You’re OK, I’m Not OK You’re Not OK provide him an outlet for songs which may not make it onto an album right away or ever.

“To do a residency, you have to have a lot of music that you can play, you can’t just play the same music every week, people would get really tired of that. I think one of the challenges that I've set for myself is that I never play a show at Saxon Pub without having something that I've never played before.”

Schneider also challenges himself to write at least one song a week leading him to amass thousands of songs allowing him to cycle through songs that possibly haven’t been played in ten years and creating “magic” where his songs come to life in front of a live audience.

“The shows are very unique compared to the shows that I might play on the weekends where I’m playing sort of the best material that I have at the moment which is what The Heights show will be.”

Audience members can expect songs from his new album as well as his tried and true hits from previous albums. “When you're playing those shows it's pretty easy to get a good result, whereas the Saxon shows can be almost brutal sometimes cause we're trying out new material that might not be very good.”

The pandemic allowed Schneider a rare chance to stay home and enjoy his family while continuing to write and learn more about running his online performances and podcasts. He has been slowly easing back into performing live.

“Taking a break from touring has really allowed me to look at my life and what I'm doing. I’m sure everybody is like this because of the pandemic, you really kind of look at your life choices you made. I’m definitely more grateful now than I was a year and half ago about everything, a lot of stuff that I took for granted. In a lot of ways there's been a lot of growth unfortunately, it doesn't happen without the pain part.”

Bob Schneider will perform on Saturday, June 26 at The Heights Theater, 339 W. 19th. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for the early show and 8:45 p.m. for the late show, $24-384.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Gladys Fuentes is a first generation Houstonian whose obsession with music began with being glued to KLDE oldies on the radio as a young girl. She is a freelance music writer for the Houston Press, contributing articles since early 2017.
Contact: Gladys Fuentes