Bob Forrest Talks About Surviving…and Songs

bobforrest_pressphotoYou know him as the counselor wearing the hat on Celebrity Rehab, but Bob Forrest is a musician of the highest order. Fronting L.A. bands Thelonious Monster and The Bicycle Thief, Forrest is a songwriter/vocalist/author who has been through a lot in his life and is presently touring in support of his brilliant new acoustic CD, Survival Songs. Here’s what the man had to say when we managed a sit down during his busy schedule.

The in-your-face truth of Survival Songs, the laid bare explorations of your state of mind, the simple productions really speak to me, especially in a day and age of what I feel is too much over production of music. Did you go into this wanting to keep the instrumentation simple or did the production just organically grow to what it is?

I definitely wanted it to be raw , bare and right there; just you and me. I hope that comes across. I wanted to have it feel like I was at your house telling you my life story through my songs.

I am assuming that in the near decade it took to get this out, you have newer and older songs here. Presently are you pretty much of the state of mind you are on “Looking To The West” and “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” (great rye lyric by the way!) or more in the “Truth, Chaos and Beauty?” sensibility (you do end the record with that upbeat tune.) Or do you vacillate between both states of mind, pretty much like we all do all the time?

I go back and forth all day everyday. I think any wisdom I have is from accepting that and loving myself anyways. I’m human. And fucked up. And tryin’ to do the best I can.

“Song of Songs” like “Drift Away” or Nazareth’s “Radio” is one of those rare moments of true understanding of what music means to us and the connection we have to it. Did you think of this tune in the terms of “Drift Away” when you wrote or recorded it?

Zander Schloss wrote that song and I loved it from the moment I heard it. Music is my religion. That song explains why. How important songs are.

Why no record in nearly a decade?

I am a recovery counselor/advocate; I got so involved in it, learning every aspect of it, how to help someone. Truly help. That takes a big learning curve. And patience and observation; trial and error. So I’ve been doing that for years. But now I understand. So, it’s back to my first love; music and songs.

I know you are releasing your book (which I loved, read and reviewed) in soft cover and now touring this album-acoustically, hitting small clubs as well as bookstores. Do you think this is the model these days, seeing how the music business has changed, that it is good to be able to present two different products that allow you to play/read/sign in a bunch of different venues across the country?

The new modern music world I think is empowering. As an artist you’re in charge now. You will live or die by your own actions. It’s truly DIY. You have to be creative about how you present things. Your songs, your ideas, yourself. Because there is just so so so much out there. It’s like every 5th person you meet has a band or a podcast…or a website/blog. Or a book. Or a movie. Or a…? So how an artist differentiates him or herself is important. I’m excited. I love a challenge. Let’s see how this goes.

Can you mention the other players and singers on Survival Songs?
The album features Zander Schloss on guitars and vocals. Carla from Geraldine Fibbers sings some harmonies. Bruce Kaphan, who played with American Music Club, played pedal steel. Plus, Todd Sickafoose from Ani Di Franco’s band, contributed amazing stand-up bass. And Ian Brennan, the producer, added some cool touches with percussion.

Beyond this tour, are you planning any more just music dates?

I’m back to music and songs and stories and singing and performing, full on. This is just the beginning. There’s more, more, more to come. I’m fifty four, it’s the perfect time for a career change. For years, because I look like a musician, people used to say: ‘Are you a musician?’ And I would reply: ‘Well I used to be in the 80’s and 90’s. I’m a therapist now.’ Recently when asked, my response is: ‘yeah. I guess I am.’

For more information on Bob Forrest, please visit http://bobforrestmusic.com.

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