You get the feeling that 44-year-old Bob Log III is still figuring things out as he goes, a sci-fi time traveler reborn every few minutes to turn things upside-down all over again. The neo-bluesman has been making music professionally for more than 20 years, but every word out of his mouth still comes off as fresh, nascent, and never contrived.
Contrived would indeed be a four-letter word for the one-man band that’ll play the Southern Café and Music Hall on August 1. Log’s shows are theatrical to the point of absurdity, and one whiff of staging would likely blow the whole thing.
“There is no predicting what will happen,” Log told C-VILLE Weekly in a recent phone interview. “There are shows when no one gets on stage. But it’s not too hard. After one song, it gets to this point where people just cut loose; they don’t care what their hair looks like. The next song, the party level goes up. By the third song, people start doing stuff.”
It’s that “stuff,” along with his unique brand of noise-rock, that has made Log a cult favorite among audiences around the world. Log invites fans to join him onstage to dance or sit on his knees as he plays percussion with both feet and ravages his dusty guitar. Sometimes, this results in disaster, an amp coming unplugged or equipment taking a beating. But the party juice is worth the squeeze, Log said, and when things go wrong, he has no one to blame but himself.
Log brings out a whole different level of intimacy from his crowds during an NC-17 number he calls “Boob Scotch.” For the unimaginative, it’s a dirty rocker that seems only to serve the purpose of getting women (or the occasional man) to stir Log’s scotch with their nipples.
Dirty rockers are Log’s specialty. Singing through a telephone rigged to a helmet with a full face-shield, he spits and grunts almost unintelligibly while making music with every available appendage. The sound of Log’s voice comes out as tinny, like it’s delivered through a drainpipe, but he said that’s not the goal.
“When you call your girlfriend, you’re talking on a telephone,” he said. “I use the most common form of [microphone] available to the world. It makes me sound more normal.”
Log said he came up with the helmet design to allow singing without leaning into a microphone stand. It’s like Britney Spears using her small, spherical, skin-toned mic while she does “her little dances,” he said, but he doesn’t go through the effort of hiding the device.
“Screamin’ Jay Hawkins…put a bone through his nose. Does that make the song sound better?” Log asked. “It doesn’t. What does it do? It raises the party level. I am trying to create this room full of people going apeshit.”
Each of Log’s indistinct tracks comes off as a scratchy playground for his irreverent, sometimes hilarious lyrics. Equally entertaining as the lyrics in tunes like “My Shit Is Perfect” is Log’s stage talk. He’s crass, abrupt, and constantly looking for a drink. Log dresses alternatively in a leather body suit, described by some as a human cannonball costume, and a blue velour jumper. Neither leaves much to the imagination.
Now, you might say this at least has to be contrived. This is a character Log’s cooked up for the stage.
“I get up there and play guitar. That’s what I do, and I’m not really thinking about it,” he said. “Would I walk around trying to get people to put their boob in my drink if I was buying popcorn? Probably not. But when I’m playing guitar, I can do things I wouldn’t normally do. You know the mom that can pick up a car when her kid is in danger? That’s me.”
Before exploding out on his own as a human orchestra, Log played guitar and sang for punk-blues outfit Doo Rag. It was “the most fun band in the world,” he said, but drummer Thermos Malling apparently grew tired of the fun. In the middle of an opening tour for oddball indie rockers Ween, Malling decided to head home. Log wanted to keep things going. He told Mickey Melchiondo, a.k.a. Dean Ween, he thought he could open for the band alone. Melchiondo agreed, Log quickly rigged things up to add percussion to his own repertoire, and Bob Log III was born.
Log said he doesn’t regret going it alone —he gloated about a coital encounter he had after that first solo show opening for Ween—and he has no plans to find a new drummer. To hear Log tell it, performing is all about controlling time, both the hour and a half when he has his audience’s attention and his music’s meter.
“Time is linear with most bands, chugging along expecting the beat where it’s supposed to be,” he said. “I don’t do that. Anytime I want, I can do whatever I want to time. I slow it down, or I make it where my drummers (his feet) don’t get along at all.”
Log wants his audience to laugh. He wants them to party like Neanderthals. He wants them to cut loose. To him, that’s what music is for.
“Think about this: What was the first music?” he asked. “Was it a bunch of our monkey ancestors banging on rocks saying, ‘We don’t like the government,’ or were they having a celebration?”