Bob Log III
Wearing a helmet as part of your stage act has its inherent occupational hazards. So it's probably not surprising that Bob Log III has had a few unfortunate incidents. At a show in Melbourne in the late 1990s, Log found himself with the urge to vomit, and with a small margin for error to avoid filling his helmet with the regurgitated contents of his stomach. "I managed to aim it down pretty well that time," Log recalls. "I think I did get it on about three guitar strings. That's happened about three times - it's amazing how good my aim has been," Log laughs.
Born and bred in Tucson, Arizon, Log now lives in Thornbury with his Australian wife and their three and a half year old daughter. The conflation of American and Australian influences goes all the way back to Log's original introduction to rock 'n' roll; as a teenager growing up in Tucson, Log heard the dulcet blues rock sound of AC/DC, and he was hooked. "It was AC/DC that really made me want to play guitar," Log recalls.
"Later on, I started listening to Mississippi Fred McDowell on cassette, and I tried to play the music I was listening to. I had a friend who could learn Black Sabbath note for note, but I was never able to do that - I'd get the gist of it, but I did it just a bit wrong," he laughs.
Log formed the two-piece garage blues band Doo Rag before branching out on his own. Having performed by himself for so long, Log is obviously used to flying solo - though there are times when having other band members on stage would help out. "There's amazing things you can do when you're a one-man band - you can convince the audience that two plus two is five," Log says. "But I suppose sometimes I do miss playing with other people, although I do occasionally get people up on stage to help out. I reckon if I was in a band I'd miss being the master of my own time!" he laughs.
Log credits the physical exertion and period emotional madness of life on road as the catalyst for his exuberant and colourful stage show. "When you're touring, and you're in a car by yourself all day, you can start to lose your mind," he explains, "so you have to do something to try and make it more fun."
Log got into the habit of inviting members of the audience to sit on his lap while he played guitar; generally it's a great trick, but sometimes it goes too far. "Sometimes I do try and do things that I really shouldn't try," Log says. "There was one time at The Old Bar when I had five people sitting on my knee. For the next three days I was shuffling around - I said to my wife that if I tried to do that again she should throw a shoe at me to get me to stop!" Log laughs.
On another occasion Log invited a large German bloke from the audience, with imperfect consequences. "I had this 250 pound German guy on my lap, and he was yelling at me because I couldn't shake him," Log laughs. And then there's the inflatable boat that Log has regularly used to surf across the crowd. "I don't use the boat as much these days," he reveals. "I was in it and I fell out, and I couldn't play guitar for three weeks - I don't want to do something that stops me playing guitar."
Log concedes that occasionally audiences take his invitation too far, and he's forced to manage the crowd dynamic. "The most out-of-control crowd I've played to is in Bellingham, in Washington State," Log says. "You have to put plastic over everything on the stage because the crowd shows its appreciation by throwing beer on the stage. I had to wear like a raincoat and hat when I'm on stage, and duck behind the speaker after each song," he laughs.
The other notable aspect of Log's stage show is the invitation to audience members - male and female - to use their breasts as either percussion or to mix drinks. Log says every now and again there's someone in the audience "who doesn't get it - everybody gets pissed off at something", but that by and large if you're at a Bog Log III show, you know what to expect. "The way I see it is that there are people everywhere using boobs to sell stuff - cars, cell phones, whatever," Log says. "So for about five minutes I'm using boobs to sell my music."
With humorous songs like Boob Scotch, Wag Your Tail Like A Dog In The Back Of A Truck and Big Ass Hard On you could be excused for thinking Log throws together his lyrics as an afterthought. Not so, he answers. "I spend the longest time on my lyrics," Log says. "I usually start my songs with the guitar, and then I add a beat, and then the words at the end - but it's the words that are the hardest to get right," he notes.
Log has even taken to making his own lyric books, and selling them at shows. "The lyric books have always sold really well," he chuckles. "As a matter of fact, I'll have my last batch of lyric books available for sale at my show next week - I need to make some more, but I've lost my stapler," Log laughs.
Finally, it's asked of Log what inscription he'd like on his tombstone - though hopefully it's not something he needs to think about in the short term.
For the usually loquacious Log, it's a question that causes him to stop and think. "I dunno," he replies cautiously. "What I really like about what I do is that I get to do what I want to do… when I want to do - how many musicians can say that?
"But I'm not sure that if I want that written on my tombstone," he laughs.
BOB LOG III plays The East Brunswick Club with The Toot Toot Toots and The Red Brigade this Friday February 11 - tickets from The East, 9388 9794 or eastbrunswickclub.com. Check out boblog111.com for all info.
BY BRUCE LAIRD