Friday, November 2, 2012

Singer/Songwriter Rob Anthony

Singer-songwriter Rob Anthony is a staple of the Appleton music scene and has been for many years. From rocking stages in various bands to now touring and performing in support of his new double disc set, “Is This The Plan?”, Anthony has spent nearly his entire life on stage, entertaining and helping people through song.

And his helping has been so much more than just music. He has lent his voice and talent to many worthwhile causes, including Special Olympics and in support of our troops overseas.

The Stevens Point native, who recently celebrated his 40th birthday, sat down with me at one of the many venues in Appleton that he plays, Déjà vu Martini Lounge on College Avenue. Musically, he reminds me of so many, from Mellencamp to Segar.

Perhaps that indeed was the plan.


What are you are working on right now? What is going on in the life of Rob Anthony?

My life right now…I just finished up performing the last year and a half in support of the new album release.  It’s a two disc set. It came from 10 years of life. It’s called “Is This the Plan”. It’s kind of theme; as a songwriter, I put all the songs on the two disc to kind of celebrate ten years of able to do what I do. I have just been performing the hell out of it for the past year and a half.

When did you first fall in love with music?

I fell in love playing guitar when I was young. Probably around eighth grade. I grew up in the 80’s so I had all the monster guitar players to learn from. That is where I learned to play guitar, and I play lead guitar for years. I was a heavy metal kid; I learned from Iron Maiden and Metallica and Slayer and all these thrash bands. It was the age of 25 that I picked up an acoustic guitar, and starting singing and songwriting.

Who are some of your musical influences?

It was 1994 and the Eagles came out with their reunion tour. I think that opened my eyes to acoustic music. And then I just went backwards. I started listening to the greats again. From the Eagles, to the Bob Dylans, Neil young, Johnny Cash. Everybody from the 60’s and 70’s; you know, just really good songwriters. I was trying to become a songwriter. How do you do that? I had no plan; I just did it.

Describe your music?

It’s a folk-Americana-folk-rock kinda style. It has spanned over ten years and four different albums. The first one was country-alternative. The second one was more of a Midwestern heartland rock, kinda like the Bo Deans or Mellencamp type style. The third one was a little more rock, and then I came out with an acoustic CD.

Why the genre bounce?

I never wanted to be pigeon-holed into style. You know, Bob Dylan, is Bob Dylan. They don’t really give him a style. Tom Waits is Tom Waits, Elvis Costello is Elvis Costello. I think it is because they have done so much different stuff over the years. I have done the same thing. I haven’t really just picked something and ran with it. I have done different things.

What do you want people to hear in your music?

What I want people to hear is that I am really big into the song and the words now. I don’t do that many interviews. I have never really pushed myself out there as much. I don’t really have anything to say that the music hasn’t already said. I hadn’t really noticed until I went back and listened to my catalog of music and realized what was more important. It’s the words and the music, and the person you are in the music.

Best performance you ever gave?

That is hard. There is so many, because we are talking 20 years of performing. The best ones really depend on the venue. I like a lot of old theaters and when I am in a theater environment, opening up for a national act, those are my best performances.

Who are some of the big names you have opened up for?

I have opened up for the Bo Deans; Gin Blossoms; Jimmy Wayne; the Wallflowers; Diamond Rio (a distinction Anthony shares with the author). There was a really good one I had and it was an honor to meet this guy. Daryl Stuermer, a guitar player and plays guitar for Phil Collins. I had a great time playing with him; it was really cool. He has done it all with Phil Collins and Genesis. And he lives in Port Washington.

Worst performance you ever gave?

The worst performance I ever gave was when I actually injured my voice. I blew it out, and I still had to sing. The reason it was a bad performance is because I knew I did something wrong, and I wouldn’t recover for a long time.  I was out of commission for 6 months.

What are the good things about the music scene in this area?

I don’t have too many right now. The music scene here really has been crippled lately by economics. Clubs can’t afford to have bands come in because people aren’t coming to see the music as much as they were before. People are being more selective on what they want to do. The drinking and driving aspect in Appleton is just unbelievable. And that all developed in the past few years. And I don’t mean the PENALTIES; I mean the fear of getting pulled over leaving a venue.
             What are some of the things that can be improved?

The whole culture of music is changing because of internet downloads, and there is such a diversity of music styles now. No one follows just one certain genre anymore. It’s hard to get people’s attention to say there’s a big show going on over here, and to get everyone in there.

To you think the music scene is hurt by the fact there are some not-so-good artist out there?

There is something to say about that, but then again, there are a lot of talented artists out there as well. I can go back to seven years ago or so when it was just thriving and say there was a LOT of great musicians out there. But now, they are all at the mercy of bars and venues. They have to deal with the politics and promotion and making sure things are running the way you want them to run and getting the people in the door.

One song that describes your life?

The best song that fits my life…actually there are two. The new song “Is This the Plan?” which really does tell my journey from working on a shipping dock where I worked with truckers to finding meaning in song. And through finding meaning in song you can help people out. It’s not the most popular song I have, but it definitely speaks the journey. There is also a song called “I Don’t Need Much”. It’s inspired by favorite artist, Bob Marley.

One artist, alive or dead, you would want to do a song with?

I would love to do a song with Glen Frey of the Eagles.

What was your first concert?

Megadeath and Dio, back in 1985. I was 14 years old.

When this run is over, what do you want people to say about the Music of Rob Anthony?

I think I would want everybody to think it was about what I had to say in the music, because I touch on so many topics. I have been trying to as honest as I can with the music. They are songs that mean things, and I know they are songs that help people.


No comments:

Post a Comment