I recently had
the privilege of reviewing the latest CD by Bob Lien entitled
From start to finish
Paradigm Shift is
an extremely compelling catalogue of music. It’s strong suit – the
amazing amount of originality, & creativity this CD has to offer.
Like the aforementioned I especially enjoyed the theatrical earthy
drama of the catalogue. All in all Bob Lien stands out from other
artists with his unique signature sound & overall songwriting
prowess. Make no bones about it Lien is a brilliant composer. When
he surrounds himself with a production team that matches his current
writing level, it will no doubt be a truly breathtaking musical
"Compelling catalogue of music"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST -
IMD I really enjoyed your latest CD. What inspired the title?
BL I wrote Paradigm Shift over the course of several years. During that time I essentially went through a significant change in my own world view, a paradigm shift of sorts. When I started writing the album, I was in a fairly dark place in my life. The fears and self-doubts that dominated my thoughts during that time are reflected in the first part of the album, probably most notably on “Without Having Flown.” I wrote the middle portion of the album during my long-distance courtship with my wife, Amber, after we met at my best friend’s wedding. The roller coaster of emotions I went through from that period was the inspiration behind “Driving Home Alone” and “As We Fall.” The second half of Paradigm Shift is really an expression of the joy and contentment of my family life and of becoming a father.
IMD Who have been some of your top musical influences over the years?
BL I’ve been through all sorts of various music stages over the years. I went through the alternative rock phase in the late 80’s when that meant something much different than it does today. Then there was the grunge scene which was unfortunately followed up by whiney 90’s rock. I think that’s what led me down the road of listening to predominantly female artists such as Natalie Merchant, Sarah McLachlan and Sheryl Crow for a spell. The Beatles have always been a background influence for me, as have numerous other classic rock era bands such as Zeppelin, the Doors, and Pink Floyd. Some of the more direct influences on me have probably been Dan Wilson of Trip Shakespeare/ Semisonic, Built to Spill’s Doug Martsch, and Elliott Smith.
IMD What makes this release different from your last?
BL Much of the material from my debut album was written quite some time ago, in some cases decades ago. It was also my first foray into digital recording (ergo that album’s title, Rough Cuts). The material on Paradigm Shift, on the other hand, is far more recent and chronicles a specific period of my life.
IMD What was the best concert you have ever been to?
BL I’d have to say it was the first time I ever saw the Minneapolis-based band Trip Shakespeare when I was in college. The energy level and musicianship that they displayed at that show were amazing. I’d consider Dan Wilson (who later went on to form Semisonic with Trip Shakespeare’s bass player, John Munson) to be one of my key musical influences.
IMD What’s the one thing you want fans to take from your music?
BL Whatever they find to be most appropriate and useful. I find music to be such a subjective art form to ask anyone to see what I myself see in it or to interpret it in the same way that I do. Lyrically, much of what I write about could be described as a bit cryptic. This is particularly true on the debut Guru Stew album, In Between Spaces, that I recently released with drummer Mathias Bestevenn. What I write about has a certain meaning to me, but I can’t claim authority on what it might mean to someone else.
IMD I especially enjoyed your songs “Without Having Flown,” “As We Fall” & “Bless the Broken Road” could you tell us more about those particular pieces?
BL As I mentioned earlier, “Without Having Flown” was written during some of my darkest days while I was making this album, yet it remains one of my favorite songs on Paradigm Shift. It’s really about the fear of not living up to one’s own potential, and giving into those fears to the point of not even trying. “Bless the Broken Road” is the only cover song on the album. I recorded it as the ceremony music for my best friend’s wedding. It was at his wedding that I met my wife Amber, so this track holds a special place for me, particularly due to what it says about finding one’s companion through all of life’s wanderings. “As We Fall” was one of the songs I wrote after meeting my wife to be. She loves roller coasters; I can’t stand them myself. So this song is partially in mockery of that fact but also intended as a metaphor for the comfort we’ll find in each other’s arms as we ride through life’s ups and downs.
IMD How’s the music scene in your neck of the woods?
BL Honestly, I don’t really get out there that often, which is something I’m eager to remedy. Being a solo singer/songwriter and writing the sorts of multi-layered songs that I do, it’s very difficult for me to do my material justice in a live sort of environment. Let’s just say I’m working on it.
IMD Can you share with us a bit about your transition from San Francisco to Eugene?
BL Musically speaking, there’s not much to say on that matter. I took nearly a decade long hiatus from my musical pursuits while I was living in the San Francisco Bay area. I actually passed on my old cassette four track recorder, my Marshall combo amp, and some other gear to my brother-in-law, Joe Ostrowski (who was playing with 20 Minute Loop at the time). He fairly accurately predicted that when I decided to return to my music I wouldn’t do it halfway. I believe my transition to Eugene was destined to a degree. I’d been working on my “relocation plan” for some time and had a variety of criteria that the Eugene area seemed to fit quite nicely into, and everything else seemed to just fall into place at that point.
IMD Is there a song on the CD that stands out as your personal favorite?
BL It’s probably “With Your Face in the Wind,” which is the last song I wrote for the album, and I almost held onto that one for my next release. The inspiration for that one is my new baby girl, Winter Rose, who holds a fascination for the ceiling fan as I dance her about the room… with her face in its “wind.”
IMD What’s next for Bob Lien?
BL I’m working on my next solo album, which features a tremendous amount of orchestral composition and instrumentation. I finally have the tools to do so, and I’ve been waiting decades to actually do it properly. I’m also in the initial stages of my next Guru Stew project with Mathias Bestevenn. I’m hoping to play a few live gigs here in the Eugene area in the not too distant future. I’ll keep you posted.
interview conducted by Cyrus Rhodes. Property of Indie Music Media LLC.
Copyright © 2011
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