Today’s Feature – June 16-17: Bo Bice

June 17, 2008 at 7:37 pm (Today's Feature)

So would the real Bo Bice, please stand up? Is he the tall, dark, handsome fellow that seized America’s attention back in 2005 as the American Idol Season 4 runner-up, the man behind the gold-certified album and hit of the same name, “The Real Thing,” or the country rocker about to release the much anticipated “See the Light?” Honestly, there’s a lot of Bo in every one of those versions, but his latest record has truly allowed him to step out and be himself. He says, “If you hold true to the original music it will show through in your performance and in your music.”

“See the Light” however does benefit from Bice’s work on “The Real Thing.” He was able to pull countless tools and tricks of the trade from the past recording, then selected them appropriately as to not over-produce the new record while still thrusting forward a “real rock album with a clean pristine sound and some really raunchy undertones.” The list of song writers who helped pull this collection together is more than impressive – it includes Chris Dawkins, Hank Williams Jr., and even Jimmy Buffet himself.

With complete control over “See the Light,” Bice was able to let these new tunes mature as well; not like a fine wine, but more “like a really good booze,” as he puts it. He’ll be out supporting the album all summer, so check out a show near you. Bice prides himself on getting up close and personal with his music without scaring anybody off – his performance is simply a real good time. But don’t expect any shows around Halloween; Bice has an unreal fear of zombies. Seriously. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: Bo Bice

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Bo, how are you?

Bo Bice (Bo): Man, life is good.

PEV: Where’d I catch you now?

Bo: In my studio, in Nashville, doing some interviews.

PEV: At home in Nashville, what do you like to do in your spare time, after performing and touring… and aside from interviews?

Bo: Man for the most part, I love spending time with my family – my wife and my son. I spend a lot of time doing that. Yard work, too: clearing land, cutting down trees. I like to fish. Every chance I get, I like to go out on my Harley and ride. My wife tries to get me into a car, I just follow her around on my bike. I’m a pretty laid-back cat, just writing music, hanging out in the studio… Yeah man, just family, music, and just being a kid I guess.

PEV: I was reading on your bio that you moved around a lot: Alabama, Georgia, even England. With such a wide variety of cultural exposure, what kind of music were you listening to growing up?

Bo: I listened to all kinds of stuff growing up. I started out listening to stuff my mom was into like James Taylor, Charlie Daniels, George Jones, things like that. As I got older, my mom, she pretty much raised me until we moved to Georgia and she met my dad who was part of the southern rock influence. Lynard Skynard, Hank, Jimi Hendrix, The Dubies… It was a lot of stuff thrown at me from like two and three that stuck. I’ve said it in many interviews, my original music is original songs but the southern rock influence I can’t take credit for, it’s the bands that gave it to me.

PEV: When you first started out playing gigs, what were those earlier days like?

Bo: It was kind of groovy in England when I started my first band at 14. It was cool because I could hang out in pubs, drink and play music. But when I moved back to the states, I was 17 years old having to go outside and hang out in the parking lot when I wasn’t on stage, which kind of sucked. But I was always writing music. I’ve been writing music since I was 12 and I guess that’s kind of my mindset now, which kind of holds me back in a way today, because I am pretty adamant person that holds strong to original music and what they do. If you hold true to the original music, it will show through in your performance and in your music. Some people call it stubborn, some people call it stupid, but I don’t tell a carpenter how to cut a piece of wood, and he shouldn’t tell me how to write a song. It’s kind of what I live by.

PEV: So what can people expect from a live Bo Bice show?

Bo: From a live show people can expect that we keep it energetic, fun and spontaneous. But in the end of the day, I pride myself on it being a clean show, you know. We don’t drop “F bombs” on you or spit on you. We leave you knowing you got your money’s worth. We don’t sit on stools and serenade – we run around and get in your face. And it shows in the crowd’s face too, they rock out with us.

PEV: Your latest release, “See The Light”, what can fans expect from this album?

Bo: I think what fans can expect from See The Light, that is different from The Real Thing (my previous album), is that The Real Thing was kind of a manufactured CD. No slight to anyone for that, it was just kind of put together before I even came into the picture, so… But the one thing I can say I took away from it was that I met a lot of producers, folks that had tools in their arsenal that I used on this CD. Along with my buddy, my engineer, we just kind of sat around and piddled on different things that he learned over the years and things I learned, to make this thing a generally Earthy album. It’s not over produced, it’s a real rock album but yet it has a clean pristine sound with some really raunchy undertones.

I was able to reach out to people to co-write with some folks that I’ve know for over a decade. Chirs Dawkins who wrote stuff for Carrie Underwood, Hank Williams Jr., Jimmy Buffet- him and I have known each other for ten years. Now, he’s a Grammy Award winning songwriter, and I’m just eating Grammy crackers. I’m still waiting for my Grammy.

PEV: This might be it!

Bo: I doubt it, but I do eat Grammy crackers. But I do prefer Teddy Grahams! Bite sized! (people laugh in the background).

PEV: You said with The Real Thing, that “it was fun album but not MY album.” With “See The Light” did you have any added pressure to making it a real Bo Bice album?

Bo: I think it was kind of the opposite. You know, there was no pressure. I was going to make an official Bo Bice album. I felt like my feet were held to the flame with The Real Thing and this album gave me a chance to really come out and show people what I can do. There was no pressure in making it, so many different people that helped make it what it was, which was a genuine rock album. I was excited every day to go to work in my own studio with all these people. It was probably as stress free as I have ever been. It shows in this album. I think that kind of mindset helped me and the album turn out to be a real genuine piece.

PEV: And when you sit down to write music, what kind of atmosphere do you surround yourself in?

Bo: It’s… well, there are a lot of songs I’ve had for years. I mean, this next one, I reached out to writers and I think this next one will be, I don’t want to say “stressed” because whatever comes out, comes out. But I think the songs on See The Light, I had written previously, aside from the co-writes, were from a decade to five years ago, that I believed in. A lot of time when you make a new album, you don’t have time to make changes and alter it, you listen to them five years down the line and say, “Man, I wish I would have done this or that”. I was pleasantly surprised about the way a majority of these songs grew and matured, like fine wine; you don’t drink it the day after you bottle it. Not comparing my music to fine wine, I mean maybe like a really good booze.

PEV: Now, you’re at that point where you are very recognizable and everyone knows your name. Was there a certain point where you realized you became very recognizable?

Bo: Well, I think, one of my friends on American Idol with me, Niko Smith, we were on the show’s, like, the top 24, and him and I were going to the grocery store in LA. We were walking back to our hotel room and crossing the street, this car grinds to a screeching halt, I mean like (make the sound of a car skidding) “urrrrrrrrrrrrr!” You know, he stops us in the crosswalk and this hand come out of the window and goes, “You are on American Idol!” And we both kind of jumped back, like “Which one?” And he was like, “Both of ya!” So, that was the first real taste of how this had a lot more impact on it than I thought. But the other week I was on American Idol again and I went back home, I mean, I kind of take it for granted like “Aw, that’s old hat”. But when I got back home to Birmingham, people are going to come up to me at dinner, they are going to come up to me walking on the street and be like “Bo! Bo!” But that’s Birmingham, you know. So, when I’m here in Nashville, that doesn’t happen a lot, very, very rarely. But just being on the show the other week and performing the song, we had like 2 or 3 dozen folks come up to me and be like, “Great job on the show!” I mean, that wigs me out a little. I mean it’s kind of like, I kind of look around like, “Am I in Birmingham?” (laughs).

I mean I remember when no one cared, when no one knew me. At a show, I’ll stay and make sure everyone has an autograph or a picture. It means the world to me because these people pay their hard earned money to come see us. Without them, we don’t have a gig. It really means a lot.

PEV: Why did you pick Nashville out of all the places to settle down?

Bo: I picked Nashville because that is as far west and north they are going to pull a southern boy from Alabama. They don’t have good fishing in New York City! Or good salsa! You know, that’s how Pace made a living out there. I like LA and have a lot of good friends out there but it’s not the south. They don’t have grits, or chicken fried chicken. And they always complain to me when I say “ma’am” and “sir” and that makes me uncomfortable. I think it’s alright, I mean my mom and dad raised me to be that way. If I came home not saying that, I’d get my ear bent!

PEV: You are touring all the time now. What is road life like?

Bo: Well, I’ve got some free time. Between the baby and Idol and press. The road life is great and I’ve always loved it. It’s always been a part of me. I don’t have any reservations when I’m out there. My little bulldog goes out there with me. My best friends are out there on the bus with me. It’s like the closest thing to being a pirate as we’re ever going to be. I mean, that is like every little kids’ fantasy when they are young, to be a pirate. So, that’s kind of what we are. We just dig what we do and live the dream every day.

PEV: You mentioned being a parent. I am going to be a dad in a few weeks. Any advice you can give me?

Bo: Well, I think for the most part the best advice I can give anyone is always take the time. If my little boy comes in while we’re recording and he wants to jump up on my lap or play on the drums, we stop what we’re doing and the business comes second. I know if my wife is happy and my family is happy, then everything else will follow. I put family and God first. I know I’ve never been the best father or husband, but I know that I strive to be and it’s something that really makes me feel a lot better to be a great dad than it is to be some kind of “rock n’ roll star”. I don’t look at myself as some celebrity. I just think of myself as some lucky guy who got a good break. They are not going to want to climb in your lap when they are 17. Just love your wife, kiss her every night and do the same with your life.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?

Bo: Man, if you go on my website, there is nothing you haven’t heard about me. I do blogs and try to blog weekly. I’m an open cat… OK, there is one thing, ok, you ready for this? This is the Barbara Walters Special exclusive. This is the money shot, you ready for this?

PEV: Yeah, yeah, I’m ready… (laughing)

Bo: I’m scared of Zombies!

PEV: Zombies? (laughing)

Bo: Yeah man, Zombies! I don’t watch movies with them. I don’t watch commercials with them. I don’t want anything coming up from the ground and trying to grab me! I don’t even like really, really old people breathing on me! Like some kind of Zombie-vibe.

PEV: I have to admit, I ask this question a lot and I have never gotten that answer before –

Bo: You telling me you like Zombies or something! Is that what you are telling me!

PEV: I didn’t say that.

Bo: You damn ol’ Zombie lover. You loving up on some Zombies!

PEV: No, no… No Zombie loving here.

Bo: I can’t even watch those commercials, you know? It gives me nightmares!

PEV: So, what’s next for Bo Bice?

Bo: Well, I’m going to go in here and make some dinner and if I can’t convince my wife to change the diaper, then you know what that’s going to entail. I don’t know… I think what’s next for me is to figure out what is the best move for my career and for my family. There was a long time that I was really, really sick. It’s been good to be healthy for a year and half, when I was sick for a decade. I think what’s next for me is to learn how to be more still now. Learn how to make decisions that are not going to be monetary as well as momentary. I want to figure what the long haul is for me. I think I’ve been jumping from lilly pad to lilly pad and I need to find a pond to kind of swim around in. That’s what’s next for me. Whatever God has in store for me next is hopefully growth and to solidify a name for myself. I can still be doing what I’m doing at 75 years old, then man, that is a good life.

PEV: Awesome Bo, thanks so much for taking the time.

Bo: Thank you man, I appreciate it. Take care.

For more information on Bo Bice, check out www.BoBice.com

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