INTERVIEW WITH BOB SIEBENBERG
By ABEL FUENTES & JUAN LAGO
Posted at "THE LOGICAL WEB"
QUESTION: You started to work on “Glendale River” in the 90s, but then you forgot it for many years… Why did you decide to take it up again some years ago?
BOB: Sometimes life gets in the way. Supertramp had come to what seemed like the end in 1988 and the music business and everything that comes with it was something I wanted to get away from. The nature of the music business was starting to be something I didn’t understand nor enjoy.
QUESTION: But the songs were there…
BOB: Yes, I liked some of the songs I had but lost heart for working on them. There seemed to be no point. My son Jesse was soon to move away to college in Boston and my daughter Victoria was growing up and entering her teens. I needed to pay attention. 1988 wrapped up a very, very non stop way of life for me with the band. We had been hard at it it since 1973.
QUESTION: So you sort of needed a break…
BOB: For a very long time I lost my enthusiasm for being in the studio and the music business in general. I would occassionally listen to what I had and think someday maybe. Then one day I listened to all the stuff and it hit me that I should try and pull this stuff together. It seemed like fun again and worthy of my time.
QUESTION: Your son Jesse has played in every song and has produced the album with you... How much important has been his work for the development and the final look of the album?
BOB: Jesse was invaluable. You all know what a great musician he is. His main role was to update a lot of the sounds, getting away from keyboards and synthesizers and bringing guitars and new parts into the arrangements. I write on piano, so everything was keyboard based.
QUESTION: The artwork is by your daughter Victoria, so this album is a kind of “family affaire”... Does she work as a graphic designer or something like that?
BOB: Yes. She is a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and her major was Photography and Digital Imaging. She and her husband run a Photography Institute in California called “Light Workshops”. I’m lucky to be covered on both sides by family.
QUESTION: There is a picture of a sailor that appears several times in the booklet… Is it someone you know?
BOB: Yes. It is my grandfather, Louis F. Siebenberg.
QUESTION: Using a drawing by Rick Davies for the cover of the album is a very nice tribute to him… Had you planned this or did it come to your mind after his illness?
BOB: I had decided to use this before Rick became ill, but it became more poignant when he became ill.
QUESTION: When and where did Rick draw it?
BOB: He drew it in the lounge at Scorpio Studios while we were working on the album “Crisis? What crisis?” in 1975.
QUESTION: Do you know how is Rick’s health at this moment?
BOB: Rick is fighting a good fight.
QUESTION: Your old pals Scott Gorham and Derek Beauchemin have played on several songs... How was their collaboration on the album? Did they know those songs before?
BOB: Derek wrote a couple of these songs, so he knew them very well. I would grab Scott every chance I got when he was around. If they weren’t in the room their vibe was still present. This is the kind of music we all dig. Everyone floated in their own directions over the years, but this has the vibe of the music we all participate in.
QUESTION: Why do you use the expression ”Sons of the Verdugos” to talk about Ronnie Reeves, Derek Beauchemin, Scott Gorham and yourself?
BOB: We all grew up in Glendale, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. Glendale was part of a large Spanish land grant to a family called the Verdugos. The mountains around Glendale are the Verdugo Mountains. There used to be a big parade with proud Mexican Horsemen dressed up in Silver and Sombreros and a carnival to celebrate “The Days of the Verdugos”. It’s our geographical heritage.
QUESTION: What is the sound that can be heard on the first track (“Opening”) and along the whole album between some tracks?
BOB: One night long ago I took a microphone outside of the studio and recorded the deep night sounds at the Ranch we owned. Crickets, etc. It is also the sound of me opening the door from the studio and walking away from the studio. And then walking back to the studio.
QUESTION: What does mean to you the “Glendale River”, the title track?
BOB: It’s like an introduction and a reminiscence. It sets up the tale to be told.
QUESTION: “Crazy In The Dark” is a beautiful song about two young lovers… Is it dedicated to Vicki, your first wife?
BOB: The sentiment goes back further than that.
QUESTION: You cowrote “Paradise” with Ronnie Reeves, who died many years ago… What can you tell us about this song?
BOB: Ronnie used to write down all kinds of stuff. He was an artist/poet. When “Paradise” was coming together, I started looking thru some of Ronnie’s writing that I had kept from long ago. Some of it fit perfectly and I wrote some to finish it off.
QUESTION: “Hometown Boy” seems to be dedicated to Ronnie Reeves precisely… Is it right? What is that “sad story” you talk about in the song?
BOB: Yes, it is about Ronnie. It’s not a new tale to tell. Everyone probably has someone like this in their life growing up. You can’t rely on talent and potential. It’s not enough. It’s hard to break out of your own personal gravity to fly a little higher. Some can’t do it.
QUESTION: What does the song “Jake” talk about?
BOB: “Jake” is about the type of know it all guy we all know. Constantly spouting off about everything but never really putting himself out there in the world. You have to get out there, otherwise you’re just fulla shit.
QUESTION: You wrote “Massapequa” for your son Jesse when he was born in 1976, isn’t it? What does mean the title of the song?
BOB: Yeah, it’s one of those looking forward to the distant inevitable someday. Derek had these great chords and I wrote the words. Jess had just been born. I got the title from the town Rick and Sue were married in. It’s an old Indian word, and I just liked the sound of it.
QUESTION: Some words from “Tribute” (“downstream”, “beggars”, “star”, “roads”…) seem to be referred to Supertramp… Is this song about your years in the band?
BOB: No. This is a “tribute” to B.J. Wilson, long time great drummer for Procol Harum. He became a friend of mine and another that died too son. He was a huge influence on me growing up and setting my sights on how good you need to be. He was a shining example. He was a sweetheart with a few demons.
QUESTION: Is there any song in the album about Supertramp?
BOB: Yes. “In My Dream” is the one that describes the demise of the band.
QUESTION: Is “New Laughs For Old” a song dedicated to your parents?
BOB: It’s more about the headspace of turning your back on things thinking the new will be better. Trading one for the other. New laughs for old. As you get older you realise they all have a special value, and maybe you didn’t have to turn your back on any of it. It’s also about traveling and loneliness… The things you do and the people you meet.
QUESTION: The song “Two Fools” seems to be about you and your mate Scott Gorham when you were at high school… What memories do you have from that era?
BOB: Too many to mention... This is just a snapshot of the time before we split from Glendale, at different times, and what our options were. Getting out was the only option.
QUESTION: Apparently “To Shine On Endlessly” is dedicated to your old friend Derek Beauchemin… What does it mean to you?
BOB: Derek will always be my friend and we will always understand each other.
QUESTION: What is the oldest song in the album?
BOB: “Glendale River” is probably the oldest music, but the newest lyric.
QUESTION: What does mean the statement that can be read at the end of the booklet, “To be listened to in the spirit in which it was made”?
BOB: I stole it from the first Procol Harum album. I’m not sure what it means, bu it says something that resonates with me.
QUESTION: What main differences do you see between “Glendale River” and your two previous solo albums?
BOB: I sang all these songs myself. There’s a maturity to this one that I like. More vibey, certainly darker. I don’t know, you decide.
QUESTION: Do you plan to play some shows in the California area to promote the album? If so, will Jesse, Scott and Derek be with you?
BOB: No… I don’t think I could get that together. But I have thought about it.
QUESTION: You are selling “Glendale River” just at your website via CD Baby… Do you plan to put the album up on iTunes? Will you make a batch on CD?
BOB: Yes… I wanted to get it going on the website first and then Victoria and I will get the rest going.