|You have to appreciate Bob Grez. His simple but honest lyrics packaged in understated country charm will disarm you and put you at ease.
Listening to Bob's tunes is a lot like sitting around the kitchen table after a huge country dinner. You feel like you're talking to your best friend about the issues of life. There are moments that you smile and even break into full laughter. Sometimes you get quiet and sincere as you ponder life's richest and darkest moments.
Bob Grez's music is a good experience steeped in the values that often escape hectic 21st century living. He helps us identify with a way of thinking, a way of understanding life, a way of life called "country".
However, as you read Bob's thoughtful answers to the CreatorsWeb interview questions, you will see that there is more to being country than you might think. There is nothing simple about the tools Bob uses to share his "honest to goodness" country music with the world. Bob has mastered the most current technology in order to spread good old fashion country charm to an ever growing audience. Be sure to visit Bob's music site at http://www.soundclick.com/bands/4/bobgrez.htm
Music Style And Audience
How do you classify your music?
I write and perform country, a bit on the traditional side. But there are surprises. I recently wrote a song about a bag lady and it's
driving rock. Another tune is very blue, it sounds like it had been written a hundred years ago (that was my goal).
Do you target a specific audience?
If so, who? I have performed for young children, for senior citizens in nursing
homes, for hard rockers in smoky bars, for college kids, and everyone in between. The smiles that come from the audience have not directed me toward any one group. One of my son's friends plays industrial metal, well I played about three tunes for him and kept him spellbound and wanting more. What more can I say?
What performance venues are you currently exploring?
I will be focusing on going to Nashville for certain very visible showcases after my next CD. I am shooting for these performances in May
Musical Instruments - Recording - Computer Hardware - Software
What musical instruments do you play?
My central instrument is my Guild acoustic guitar (F45CE), used for recording and for shows. It has the LR Baggs Duet II pickup system with
a parallel microphone and produces a real sweet amplified sound. It is even sensitive to my fingers sliding along the strings. There is also an open airy feel that comes out as well to contrast and complement the lead guitar which I know will be laid down on another track. Carmen Caramanica, my lead guitarist, uses his "Lucille" Gibson and or a Fender Strat depending on the feel that he wants to overlay. That decision is his. (Carmen was the lead guitarist for Tony Orlando and
Dawn and was the producer for Lou Rawls. This is why I let him decide. He's a pro.)
At home, I also have a Martin backpacker, a Yamaha FG350W (recently I gave it to my daughter), an old Aria Pro electric guitar, a old upright piano, my son's drum set, an old organ, and an antique tenor banjo. All of which I have used at one time or another for different shows and recording sessions or just jamming. But by far, my most crucial instrument is my voice. I have to work with what God has given me. And I'm always learning something new in how to
use it. Mostly I go by what the words say and have to believe in what I'm saying. That comes across I hope in the finished product
Do you record in a home studio?
Yes, I record my rough demos at home on a cassette or on my mp3 player/mike in my computer, but I head to a professional studio for the CD. The atmosphere is more rigid there. No kids or spouses. The musicians, the recording engineer, and I are intensely working. But we
do have fun doing it, and that is important to me. My favorite times are when I first played certain new songs that blew everyone in the room away. And then we all got so excited in wanting to create the best product that it could possibly be.
I have also found that I am so busy with my guitar and vocals, I don't really have time to also worry about being the recording engineer. There were many times when the inputs from the experts around me have considerably improved my product. I always listen to what folks are
telling me, but I also know when to trust my own instincts.
What equipment and software do you use?
For the heavy duty equipment like Alesis HD24 hard drive recorders, 8 track analog tapes (yes I still do for certain things), the mixing board, mikes, and more - I rely on the studio. At home I have an 8 channel Mackie mixer, a Peavey acoustic 100W amp, a cassette recorder, and an mp3 recorder on my computer. All is geared for rough demos and practice.
I use both Mac and Windows software. Band in the Box, Cakewalk, Photoshop, Word, Toast, databases, emailer, accounting. All of the software is really needed to conduct a music business.
Musical Background -Influences
How did you get started playing music?
I sang in choirs throughout school and picked up the guitar in high school. Self taught, I learned from my friends and from playing my stack of songbooks. Years later I took my first lessons from a pro and learned music theory. Still haven't finished learning
What has influenced your music the most?
Always enjoyed listening to music, of all types and genres. I learned how others phrased and created melodies around the main simple
structure. Then I started writing and that is when it all solidified in my head. I know what I like to hear and I try to create what I am
hearing in my head.
Music And Internet Marketing
How has the Internet effected you as a musician?
The internet is actually a lot of hard work and has actually slowed me down in creating new material. But if I create a great song and put it
away in my desk drawer, what's that worth? The internet has provided me with insights into what folks write and produce and what folks like to
hear. A great song is somewhat rare, but there are thousands of good songs. In other words, I am more critical of my own work now. I am not
afraid to just drop a mediocre song like a hot potato even if I already spent a small bundle on it. This also has hopefully improved my next CD
because I kept the best of the best over a two year writing period. That is yet to be proven on the internet audience next year.
When did you start marketing your music on the Internet?
In October of 2000, I set up my own web site and signed up with mp3.com. About a year later I was hip deep in promoting my songs everywhere I could.
What has been the most effective way to market your music on the Internet?
You can never tell where your fans will come from, so you must not put all your eggs in one basket (at least that is my conclusion). I tried a
traffic generator site where my site is advertised in something like a banner. It hit an audience of business folks (marketers, promoters, and
the like). Who'd have figured that they would like country? I asked them to take a break from their work and listen. I now get about a
hundred to two hundred listeners just from there every day and lots of emails and even some CD sales.
On some music sites, networking helped me to promote and to gain listeners. (Musicians are the best listeners and critics.) Once they heard my tunes and listened to my words, well I think that they felt I was honest and open to my inner feelings. Once they listened to one tune then they also listened to another and another. OK, I know my $100 per song production is not top quality ($1,000 to $20,000 per song), but no matter, the idea is planted and most folks understand being constrained by an indie artist's budget.
At mp3.com, for a while, I got to be too uccessful in promoting. I won an auction there for an ad and all my songs went to the top of many
different charts simultaneously and stayed there, locking out many indies for months and even knocking out very famous artists. I got some
nasty grams from some of the folks there because they could not get to the top any more. I eased back in promoting there and went elsewhere. The real problem was in the way that mp3.com was structured. Visible artists with lots of songs got even more hits, and folks with three or four songs or folks with less interesting song titles could not compete.
Writing emails one-on-one and asking folks to listen to your songs for free is still a great romotion technique. Getting reviews in newsletters and newspapers and magazines have also heavily influenced the exposure on the internet. (Once a very good review for a 76,000
member newsletter gave me more than 4,000 hits a day for about two weeks.) I also get emails from folks that have seen me live and they
comment about how glad they were they saw me and how much they like my site. Every day life affects my internet promotion as well. The only
thing that hasn't worked well for me is posting my shows. I have never had someone in the audience tell me they came there because of the
internet. It's just too far to travel for the folks that I touch on the internet. Australia, Japan, Holland, Texas - all are way too far away
from where I live.
Musicians And The Future
What does the future hold for you?
I hope to write and produce a country album that will take off running at the grass roots level generating underground sales that will rock
the recording industry. If people like it, they will come or so they said in a movie. But I have to really work my tail off to get to that level of intensity. Audiences expect the best and I don't blame them one bit. That is what I am shooting for. I want to be the best country singer songwriter for the next twenty years. Maybe it is too arrogant, but I hope some of my songs get engrained into our culture. I have so much more to learn in order to head toward that goal.
Finally, is there anything else you want to say about yourself?
Not really, but what I would like to do is to thank you for this great interview and opportunity. I don't consider myself an expert and there
are many ways to do things. I just tried to give you a glimpse of how I do them. Some can work for others, some may not. I'm always changing
myself. Thanks again
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