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Recently, country journalist Christian Lamitschka had the opportunity to talk to Bob about various subjects.




Question: Would you please introduce yourself to the audience and tell 
us something about your history.

Answer: I am a country singer in my mid twenties and I have been around for the last four years as an entertainer, trying to make a living from my music. I play solo and also with my six piece band.

Question: Country Music has many new fans in Europe who may be learning 
about you for the first time. How would you describe the music you play 
to someone who has never seen or heard you before?

Answer: My slogan is “Strictly New Country”. I guess that says it all. I play the Billboard Country Top 40 and the greatest hits from recent years. I also write my own stuff. I do have some great songwriters I am co-writing with, mostly pop-orientated material.

Question: What is your current CD and how is it doing?

Answer: My current demo album is called “My Heroes Wear Hats” and I am pleased to say that it has been received very well.

Question: How did you find the title for the CD and what inspired you?

Answer: Most of my musical idols wear hats, plain and simple. It is also an alliteration and quite likely to be remembered.

Question: Do you write you own songs and if not, how do you go about 
finding songs for your albums?

Answer: I really like to cover. There are so many talented writers out there, especially in Nashville. I write on my piano, so most of my own stuff reminds me of Billy Joel, Marc Cohn or Joshua Kadison, not very country. But a lot of my singer friends used to send me their songs and I am actually thinking about recording some of them. 

Question: What´s your favourite song among all the songs you´ve recorded 
and what´s the story behind it?

Answer: I am just about to record a song Brad Paisley wrote along with Chris DuBois, called “I Wish You’d Stay”, for a new country sampler. I really love this ballad, as it has been my favourite tune for almost a year now. My band also loves to play it and recently I even performed it at the Opry in Oklahoma City. I cannot wait to cut it. 

Question: How much creative control do you have over your music?

Answer: I am the executive producer of most of my music, so I decide what I want to record. I take advice from a consultant in Nashville and from fellow musicians and friends. But the more people you ask the more opinions you get. So I make the final decision because I need to be satisfied with the product at the end of the day.

Question: There´s a lot of work that goes into a number one hit ... 
What does it take to make it?

Answer: I have not had a number one so far. If somebody knows the recipe, I would really like to know it. I guess, when you are already established in the industry, a decently produced, well-written song has a good chance of making it. If George Strait sang the Yellow Pages and released it as a single, it would probably make the top ten. These days, patriotic songs will get more radio airplay than they did several years ago. I could tell that Toby Keith’s “American Soldier” would chart on the day it was released. 

Question: How much do your songs influence your audience?

Answer: My aim is to entertain, not to spread a message. While I’m on stage, I would hope that my music influences my audience to have fun for a few hours.

Question: The internet is playing a bigger and bigger part in the world 
of music. Has the internet hurt or helped you and how would you like to 
see it evolve?

Answer: Well, the Internet gives you the opportunity to sell your music without having a distribution deal. People can order online from the artists´ homepage and also get extra information. The big boys certainly face serious losses since Napster and other file-sharing programs began to hurt the industry. Actually, I earn my money at live gigs and not so much from album sales, so I am happy to hear that some of my music is actually shared. I have no clue what the development will be like in the future but there is little doubt that the industry has to deal with the online offers.

Question: Who do you look up to musically and where do your musical 
roots come from?

Answer: I grew up with Garth and I still love his music. George Strait and Tim McGraw are amazing singers. Brad Paisley, Toby Keith and Keith Urban have it all: they are excellent writers, singers and musicians. Rascal Flatts is also one of my favourite new bands. I like most of the singles on current country radio. 

Question: What do you think about today’s Country Music versus it’s 
roots and where do you see it going in the future?

Answer: I am a very progressive musician. The classic country music is just not my taste. I didn’t grow up with it and cannot really relate to the older music. I love today’s style and would not change a thing.

Question: If you had a chance to change something about the music 
industry, what would it be?

Answer: Today’s music industry is expecting to get a finished, marketable product right from the beginning. The A&Rs are not building new artists but require them to already be stars when they introduce themselves to the record companies. They know they can get away with it because there is so much incredible talent out there, but it makes it much more difficult for new talent to find it’s way onto the scene.

Question: As an artist you have so many different things you have to do 
such as recording, touring, doing interviews etc. What do you like doing 
the best, what´s your favourite activity?

Answer: Touring is the ultimate thrill. I chose this profession because I love playing music. Not that I dislike studio work or promotional activities, but I am a musician and I need to get on stage and perform. 

Question: How did you get into Country Music ... is there a story behind it?

Answer: Well, I listened to a radio show, called “Southern Songs”, when I was 16. They also played some Garth and Trisha tunes. That is what really got me involved in Country Music. I started buying albums and playing those songs. When I turned 18, I finally made it to the States and, three years later, I decided to make a living out of Country Music.

Question: Before you became a star, where your friends and family 
supportive or was it a struggle?

Answer: I don’t consider myself being a star. There is more to it than just being an artist. But to answer your question, the only little support I got was from a handful of journalists and an agency. My friends and family had no clue what I was doing because country music is still not very popular over here in Europe.

Question: Has your journey to success been a hard or an easy road?

Answer: I am still on that road and it is very difficult. As I said, there is unbelievable talent out there and it is not easy to make a name for yourself.

Question: What drives you? What inspired you to become an artist?

Answer: I just like the thrill of standing on the stage, knowing that the audience is enjoying the show and I love to perform Country Music. So I decided to combine them both into one and be able to do what I love.

Question: What does it take to be a Country Star?

Answer: As I said, I don’t consider myself being a star at this point in my career. This requires huge media presence and thousands of avid fans. I guess it is a mixture of talent, personality and luck that makes you into a star.

Question: What´s unique about you that differentiates you from other 

Answer: Unlike most of my colleagues I really like to cover. This is why I decided to play the Top 40. I have no problem with that. More and more people appreciate it because the fan community of modern country music is growing, even in Europe. As the American stars hardly come here for a tour, I try to give the European fans the chance to listen to there favourite songs live. 

Question: What´s the best thing about being a star and what´s the 
hardest thing?

Answer: I guess the hardest thing is the pressure that arises from performing in public. On the other hand, the benefits are really too many to mention, but travelling the world, meeting new people and, of course, earning serious money are at the top of the list.

Question: What’s your greatest challenge been in the music business?

Answer: I would say my biggest challenge so far was to participate in USA Network’s ‘Nashville Star’ contest among all those great American artists. It was a wonderful time, especially the early try outs in Georgia and Oklahoma. I made a lot of new friends and important contacts within the industry. The fact that they decided to show me play in the season’s premiere for a national audience to see, even if it was just a short moment, was a nice compliment. Some people even wrote to me and said; “hey I’ve seen you on TV”. That was very cool. 

Question: What moments in your career stand out in your memory as 
highlights and achievements which you’re proud of?

Answer: I will never forget the good time I had in Nashville with Keith Urban and his old band “The Ranch”. Keith’s opinion is very important to me and when he told me I should try to become an entertainer, it was an unforgettable moment. Recently, I sang at the Opry in Oklahoma City and this was one of the biggest honours I have ever received. It is absolutely wild to know I have performed on the same stage as a lot of my idols.

Question: Who´s your biggest critic, yourself or others?

Answer: During rehearsals I am. But as I work really hard to provide the best show I can present, my fans, colleagues and consultants are the judges when it’s show time. 

Question: When you get time off, how do you like to relax?

Answer: For me playing music is relaxing. I also like to visit concerts of my fellow musicians or just chill at home.

Question: Is there anything in your life that you would change if you could?

Answer: I am quite content with the current situation even though there will always be things to wish for. For example I would really like to study “Music Business” at Belmont University or do some jazz research at Tulane. But at this point of my life it is just not possible. Maybe later. We will see.

Question: What private hopes and desires do you have?

Answer: To have a happy and secure life. Isn’t that what we all want?

Question: What´s the biggest disappointment in your life been?

Answer: That the Garthman retired from touring ;-)

Question: Many European fans travel to Nashville for Fan Fair because of 
the opportunity to see so many of their favourite stars at the same time. 
Will you be participating and how will the fans be able to find you?

Answer: I am not sure if I will be around for Fan Fair. Anyhow, European fans had the opportunity to meet me at the “Country Live” in Germany for the last two years and also at the CMM. I am not sure if a booth at the CMA Fest makes sense for a guy like me. 

Question: When you´re on tour, do you have time to play tourist?

Answer: Of course, this is the fun part! That is the reason I love to tour Asia so much. I always try to get some days off and to explore the countries I am visiting. I had a great time at exotic places like Bali and Singapore. When I played in Vienna, Austria, the fans showed me around for two days, unforgettable. It’s the same in the US.

Question: Can your European fans look forward to seeing you in concert 
in the future?

Answer: Definitely, I am playing in Germany all the time. Mostly solo in the clubs but also some festivals with my beloved band. Come to see us when you’re close by!

Question: Many music fans today get their information about artists via 
the internet. Do you have your own website and what information can the 
fans find out about you on the internet?

Answer: My official website is www.bob-style.com. It contains all the usual info like my biography, tour dates, news, an image gallery and also an online shop where you can order my products.

Question: What are your plans for the future and how can new fans keep 
informed about you?

Answer: Stick to my website which is constantly updated. In the future I plan to withdraw a little from the European market and to concentrate on Asia and the US. In fact I have been commuting between the States and Europe during the last months and have become a frequent flyer. Hopefully I can play some gigs there in late 2004. I also have just opened a new office in Tokyo and hope to tour Japan in 2005 or 2006. Asia has great country fans that are as much ignored by the American music industry as the Europeans are. It is about time to give them what they want. 

Question: What´s the best compliment a fan has ever given you?

Answer: Well, some compare me to Garth, which I think is not very realistic but a nice compliment anyway. Some of my fellow Nashville Star contestants said really nice things about me, which is especially cool as we were actually competing against each other. I learned they even talked about me at the regionals in Nashville during my absence, which means a lot to me.

Question: What´s your favourite song that you didn´t record and why?

Answer: It must be “The Dance” by Garth Brooks. It is one of my all time favourites, but I did not dare record it. A friend of mine from Oklahoma meets Garth every now and then and he keeps pitching my stuff to him. I would not like GB listening to cover number one thousand, which cannot reach the original by far.

Question: What message would you like to send to your European fans?

Answer: Thanks for showing your love and please come to see me in the future.