Bob Wayne plus The Zipheads
Till the Wheels Fall Off ain’t just an album title. It’s a way of life. And the Outlaw Carnie responsible for it ain’t no character. Bob Wayne is 100% the real deal: a raucous, rambunctious, storytelling rabble-rouser with a passionate zeal for life and a reckless charm that is completely unbound.
Conquering the interstates behind the wheel of his real-life ‘70s Cadillac limo while surrounded by a revolving gang of sweaty banjo bangers, fiddle scorchers and upright bass slappers, Bob Wayne carries the torch for the Outlaw Country tradition with a modern punkabilly snarl all of his own. The rampaging troubadour has left a trail of devastated dive bars, broken hearts and one-night stands across the United States and Europe.
Bob’s incredible catalog of home recordings, studio outings and zip-lock-baggied CDs sold from his trunk have all finally culminated into a pair of landmark releases with People Like You Records that encapsulate and capture just what his life’s work has been about. There’s no better place to hear Bob than the road, but the Nashville based country singer’s Outlaw Carnie and newest collection of tunes, Till the Wheels Fall Off, come a close second. Bob writes songs that paint vivid pictures of real life, with an overall atmosphere befitting the rowdy carnival ride conjured in his presentation.
“I’ve always known I wanted to be on the road, no matter what,” Bob says matter-of-factly. “Whether I was selling t shirts for Zeke or guitar teching for Hank III, I knew I wanted to be on the road. I don’t care what I’m doing. I’m not against getting in front of a bigger audience, but whether I’m on CMT or MTV or not, I’m going to keep doing this, that’s for sure.”
Bob Wayne is as true of a DIY act as there is, kicking off his career without an agent, manager, record label, proper touring vehicle or fulltime backing band. He picked up and moved from the Pacific Northwest to Nashville and was instantly embraced by the community of underbelly outlaws whose stripped down and straightforward country cuts through the mainstream noise and pop pretenders. “You can’t rely on waiting around,” he insists. “You just go. That’s what I do. I’m just going to keep doing it.”
Bob Wayne songs often deal with the spiritual torment of living life pulled between good and evil; or they are about cutting loose and partying with your best friends; and then there are what he calls “the story songs.”
The compositions on Bob’s latest album are wrung from his heart, spirit and guitar with an authenticity that’s lacking in many of today’s various subgenres and scenes. It’s an out front, direct and in-your-face approach that has struck a chord with people whose music collections span the divides between country, roots, bluegrass, rockabilly, punk rock, hardcore, indie artfulness and the rawest of stoner rock and underground metal. It’s country, to be sure, but of the strongest grain and purest intent.
Bob laid down the roadmap for his career with the first song he ever wrote as a proper solo artist, “Devil’s Son,” which sees its most solid recording on his latest album, bringing him full circle. “I had been listening to a lot of David Allen Coe, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson,” he says. The song tells a story about a guy who journeys to Nashville and wrestles with a few demons. Wayne himself entered Nashville for the first time riding on the up one morning. “My first time rolling into this city was with the people I needed to be with,” he says. It was almost eerie how “Devil’s Son” had predicted the subsequent years. “I’m a little leery when I’m writing songs now,” he laughs. “’Spread My Ashes on the Highway?’ I should write about being a millionaire!”
Money does figure into one of the album’s new songs. “Pistol and a $100 Dollar Bill” was written inside Bob’s motorhome during a Texas thunderstorm. “I had this girl with me. She was beautiful. She was like, ‘How do you write these songs?’ I was like, ‘How do you look so good?’” The girl challenged Bob: could he write a song on command? She said that if he could write a song, right then and there in front of her, she’d spend the rest of the night doing whatever he wanted in return. “I had a bunch of songs in the bank, I could have faked it and made it look like I was trying to think of rhymes, but I was up for the challenge. I wrote that song right there.” The darkness of the Texas thunderstorm served as inspiration. “I imagined this man with the devil and a woman by his side, telling this story. It was actually a very good song that I ended up liking. It was a challenge to see if I could write a song on command. I’m glad I did it!”
It’s the type of story that sits easily next to a song like “All Those One Night Stands.” “I don’t mind being with one girl but I want them to know what they are dealing with,” he says about his touring lifestyle. “I’m out there 200 to 300 days per year. I’ve got my needs. I’m not a monk.”
Tracks like “Fuck the Law” (written while hopping trains), the real life inspired “Lost Vegas” and the rest of the material in Bob’s catalog are often cinematic. Bob’s interests and talents extend to screenplays, movies and other mediums as well, so it makes sense that his music is similar in scope.
“When people listen to my records I want it to be like a movie where it takes them through different emotions. You’re happy at some points, there’s a sad part, a weird scary part. I try to fit the spectrum of everything where you’re entertained, because it’s basically entertainment mixed with real life experience. Pop this CD in, just like you’d pop ‘The Devil’s Rejects’ or something in, and be entertained.”