We first discovered The Bobby Drivers when they appeared on the bill of a show at George’s back in August with North Carolina’s American Aquarium. Turns out, that was their first show in town.
Since then, the three-piece alt-country band from Fayetteville has been appearing on our calendar on a pretty regular basis, and has picked up enough steam recently to be nominated in the best new band category of the Northwest Arkansas Music Awards.
The Bobby Drivers, or Bobby D’s for short, or BD’s for shorter, play a pretty straightforward brand of alt-country. Their songs are not overly intricate or pretentious, but there is something refreshing about songwriter Caleb Rose’s “alcohol-soaked heartbreak songs.” If you ask me, that stuff is pretty timeless.
You can check out The Bobby Drivers for yourself at the Boom Boom Room on Friday, April 23, and you can also download several of their songs for free at bobbydrivers.com.
We got in touch with Caleb from the band recently, and he was nice enough to answer some questions for us.
Fayetteville Flyer: What have you been listening to lately?
Caleb Rose: Well, I just returned from South By Southwest in Austin, TX and I discovered a couple bands there that have made regular rounds on the turntable, “Look Mexcio” (they sound a bit like The Get Up Kids meet Centro-Matic) and “Two Hours Traffic” a Canadian power pop band. I have also been spinning my regular staples of Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown, Centro-matic, Glossary, Vulture Whale, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and the Dexateens…oh and Passion Pit (gotta have my synth pop!)
FF: Tell us about the Bobby Drivers. How did the band come about?
CR: Chris Moore and I met about four years ago at his East Hall Recording Studio while recording Justin Brasher’s solo CD, Copper Dreams. We would later play together in Hot Shot Karate from 2005-06 until about last summer. During this Hot Shot Karate hiatus, Chris and I started talking about “whatever happened to the alt-country band we wanted to form?” So when the opportunity came for Hot Shot Karate to open for American Aquarium (a great alt-country band from Raleigh, NC) at George’s, two members of Hot Shot Karate had to back out of the gig due to prior engagements. I wanted to open for the American Aquarium boys, and bad!
So I said to Chris, “man, here is our chance to do the alt-country band.” I’ve been a fan of this genre of music and have been writing alcohol-soaked heartbreak songs for years. Chris recommended we get Andrew Bailey, formerly of Famous in May, to drum. We got together just thinking that this would be a one-off performance for the American Aquarium show. But the response was encouraging, so here we are. We hope you’ll like us.
FF: Where’d the name come from?
CR: The meanest SOB on the planet is from Zebulon, NC, and his name is/was Bobby Driver. He once shot a man in the bank lobby because the man owed Bobby Driver money. He also once mashed his fingers in a wood splitter and refused medical attention. He is haggard, maimed, and ain’t worth a damn. But I’d never say it to his face.
FF: What are some other bands you guys have been in?
CR: I play guitar and sing harmony with Justin Brasher and play guitar and sing harmony with Hot Shot Karate. While living in NC, I played/recorded with a band called Hellkansas (pronounced like Arkansas…but hell). Hellkansas, and its co-founder, Ryan Kennemur, have had a profound impact on my songwriting. Chris Moore also played bass in Hot Shot Karate (as well as with numerous other local musicians such as The East Hall Boys Choir) and Andrew Bailey was the drummer for Famous in May.
FF: The recordings on your MySpace page sound great. Where can folks get their hands on those songs?
CR: You are too kind! Those recordings were done in one day, and it was the third time we ever played together as a unit. God love Chris Moore. The guy knows how to record. We have the great fortune of rehearsing and recording at East Hall Studios here in Fayetteville, and his knowledge of our sound and his studio really helped make those demo recordings an accurate representation of the band at that point. I think I can speak for the band when I say that we are proud of those recordings but we sound a hell of a lot better now. You can download all of the demo songs we have for free at www.bobbydrivers.com.
FF: How do you perceive the music scene in Fayetteville?
CR: How much time do you have to hear me rant? The bottom line is that I think Fayetteville could be doing a lot better but we not only struggle with good venues for live music (George’s Majestic Lounge, Smoke & Barrel, and The Boom Boom Room are the only consistent venues) but also, I am not sure the clientele is here.
I recall when Dinosaur Jr. played at George’s, the “music kids” came out of the woodwork. Same with Connor Oberst. Folks came out in droves for the Drive By Truckers too. I’d like to think that these folks genuinely like live music, and further, I would hope that they would support the local music scene; however, that does not seem to be happening.
FF: How do you feel about the paid parking initiative on Dickson St.?
CR: Of course we don’t want to pay for that parking. But who knows what is going to happen. Walking is good exercise.
FF: Conan or Leno?
CR: We’re with Coco.
FF: What are some other bands in town we should check out?
CR: Excellent question! Cass Harris floored us when he opened for the Bobby Drivers at the Boom Boom Room a while back. Of course they have a hell of a drummer playing with them. We have also been longtime fans of The Christmas Fuller Project. We all shared the stage with these kind gents when we were still playing Hot Shot Karate and Famous in May shows. We should preface this next band by saying that you didn’t put us up to it, but The Good Fear. The boys in Apartment 5 are also good. The One-Ups, though I am not sure what those fellas are doing these days. Lastly, Jared Dunn, who may have released the finest local record in the past three years with The First Try.
FF: What’s next for you guys?
CR: In the immediate future, we will be playing at the Boom Boom Room with the Great Scotts on Friday, April 23. Stay tuned to our website and/or add the Bobby Drivers as a friend on Facebook to keep up with the latest information on our shows.
We were also recently honored with a nomination for Best New Band in the Northwest Arkansas Music Awards. We are writing new songs and working out some new material (including our take on an old-time murder ballad) for the set. We’re excited to get this material worked out and the start recording an actual record so we can replace the “third time we ever played together” demos. We’ll see.
Click below to hear “Waiting Around on You” by The Bobby Drivers