DENNIS WILSON PRESENTS: A HOT 16 WITH , "A Hot 16 With..." sits downs with some of the hottest local and independent artists to find out what makes them tick and why they love this thing we call music. We will also talk to club owners, producers, and others in the industry to get their perspective. "A Hot 16 With..." also delves into the hip hop community, giving insight to the industry.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.