The Complete Bob Reuter Interview
Editor's Note: Bob Reuter's Alley Ghost will release Born There this Sunday at Off Broadway. For this week's Riverfront Times, Josh Levi talked to Reuter, but the man cannot be confined to our limited print space. What follows is the rest of the interview, complete with old music and new music to listen to.
David Mitchell Bob Reuter's Alley Ghost
Josh Levi: Your friend, Jessica Douglass, mentioned that she was talking to you the other night about...
Bob Reuter: About the rock & roll lifestyle...being fucking idiotic? Yeah. Something like that? It was horrible, you know? It's like a Wednesday show with like four bands, and it started out with - I don't know, it looked like a couple of hundred people, and when the time went by it started dwindling and dwindling and it was an out of town band so we couldn't let them just go last and play for nobody. So we had to play for the smaller crowd, and I was just walking back and forth out in front going, "This is fucking stupid!"
Well it sounds like you've got your work cut out for you. How long have you been doing your radio show?
I think it started in 2002. I used to just go there and use the computer because I knew the guy Tony Renner who was the music director. And I would come in everyday to check my e-mail and stuff like that, and it got to be like I was working there only I wasn't doing anything. Next they're trying to talk me into doing a radio show, and I was like "No, I can't do that. I can't do that." and finally they talked me into it. Now they can't get me to stop.
So they kind of motivated you into it?
Yeah, I mean I did not want to do it. I said I don't know enough to do that.
I wanted to talk about the recording of Born There and how that got together - you had Mario Viele (of the Pubes/Sex Robots) - he came down [from New York] for that?
We had already done one album and that was extremely lo-fi. We did it in my kitchen at the time with just four microphones. Chris [Baricevic] was playing drums. He had a snare drum and cooking utensils on the stove and he was banging on that. Then there was a big shift. Chris temporarily left the band and then we got a real drummer with a bass drum and everything, Bass Amp, and that sort of sent it into a rock & roll direction. I think that was an extra tie to Mario. He plays with Mario in the Sex Robots so it was pretty exciting. Everyone in the band is a little expert at what they do, you know? So everybody is adding their little bits, and it's really cool.
Do you play strictly vinyl?
It's about 90% vinyl.
You said Alley Ghost came together four years ago or so? I remember getting the first CD that Chris handed me a while ago. How did Alley Ghost start?
It started with me going into the hospital to get heart surgery and Mat who was a big fan of the radio show... He's a weird guy. He just started visiting me in the hospital. I had met him very briefly and he told me he loved my radio show, but he showed up and I'm laying in a hospital all morphine'd up and shit and he comes in.
It's really like if you're just meeting him for the first time - he's a weird looking cat - he's got a shaved head and he just started telling me about his history and I'm laying there all drugged up and I'm thinking "Now why do I care about this kid's history?" And he started just telling me his whole story about how he played in this group Nineteen when he was fourteen and I started getting into it, you know? Especially with the drugs.
And then came that crowning moment where, all drugged up I turned to him and said, "Can you empty my pee bottle?" On the first album, there's a little thing: "I've had this man's pee on my hands."
You've got a lot of energy in these Alley Ghost songs.
Yeah. It's really strange because I'm not physically where I used to be so a lot of the times I'm still seated when I play like some old blues guy and then Mat and Chris - they're practically leaping around the stage. And everybody says it's a great band to watch because there are so many things to look at.
So you wanna hear an exciting part about the story?