Bob Anderson, a busy touring guitarist with Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness — and a longtime collaborator with McMahon in Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin — rarely has time to dedicate to Bob Oxblood, his solo artist alter ego. So it’s a good thing he works fast.
He’s been releasing EPs and singles and says he has about 10 more songs ready to share, as well as another 10 that need some more work.
“I’m always writing, I’ve always got a guitar on,” says Oxblood, who will perform at Karl Hall on Saturday. The show, presented by Highway 81 Revisited, also features Joe Burke & Co., Esta Coda and Todd Albright. “Writing is not a problem for me.”
“The whole germ of this idea was a mellow, finger-style guitar thing,” says Oxblood, whose music reaches beyond the typical acoustic singer-songwriter fare. “I used to be a classical guitar player. In 2013 EP I released an EP with just me and a guitar, and I put [a song] out a few weeks ago.” He also released five singles in 2018.
He says the new song, “Trash Mansion,” like much of his current work, features drummer AJ Jump, who runs Karl Hall in Wilkes-Barre and also plays in Burke’s band. “Trash Mansion” was released by Brooklyn-based label Ephemeral Arts.
While releasing singles and EPs has its advantages — a steady stream of material to share and promote rather than a block of songs every year or so — the Brooklyn-based artist says he’s “a big fan of albums, and I think it’s still a relevant form.
“But it just doesn’t make sense for me. If I had money I would love to just shut down and make an album with 10 or 11 songs, but I don’t have the money or the time.”
Anderson got to know McMahon when Anderson was a member of River City High, and the Richmond, Va., punk band was touring with Something Corporate.
“Eventually down the road a few months later, Will [William Tell] ended up leaving Something Corporate, and they were getting ready to go on tour co-headlining with Yellowcard,” Anderson recalls. “They needed a touring guitarist. Andrew gave me a call, and I had just left River City High, and I said, ‘hell yeah.'”
Later, as Something Corporate was “dissolving,” McMahon and Anderson “started recording the songs that became the first Jack’s Mannequin album,” he says.
While Anderson has played in front of countless punk, pop punk and alt-rock fans with McMahon, he calls the Oxblood material “really different.”
“When I left Jack’s Mannequin in 2012, none of the Andrew fans were into the Oxblood thing at all,” he says. “Still I’m not sure, but I’m kind of letting that go a bit and finding a different audience. It seems really different to me.”
He adds that he still “adores” Jack’s Mannequin and the band’s music, but notes that McMahon “writes in a very specific kind of style, and I was always there to support that, his vision in the studio. But my stuff, it’s really different to me, but maybe it’s not.”
Born in Alabama and a fan of ’80s hard rock like Def Leppard, Motley Crue and Twisted Sister in middle school, Anderson eventually made his way out to the Los Angeles area before moving to Brooklyn.
He much prefers New York to the West Coast.
“LA doesn’t have the kind of community like New York has. I noticed that right off the bat,” he says. “You get to know the mailman and the people at the hardware store. It’s more of a village vibe, where LA has no local vibe — it’s just the people you knew when you moved out there and you kind of stick to it.”
Anderson, who plans to play a new, unreleased Oxblood song as part of his set in Wilkes-Barre, is gearing up for more shows with McMahon, as well as with fellow McMahon band member Zac Clark. He also has dates scheduled with Paige Calico, who is performing at the prestigious Newport Folk Festival (July 27) and then at Brooklyn club Baby’s All Right (July 29).
Photo by Alex Perkins