It's hard to believe that in a little over a year's time, Bo Bice has become a household name. Such is the power of a TV show name of American Idol. Bo was the first runner up in last year's (2005) American Idol.
Bo is leading the way in the new movement of classic rock. His debut album, "The Real Thing", produced by Clive Davis, entered the Billboard charts at number four, with sales of almost 277,000 copies in the first week alone. In fact, Bo's CD was the highest new entry on the Billboard Hot 200 survey; date 12-31-05.
We are honored to present an interview with a man whose classic rock has been his "Vehicle" to success.
It's Bo Bice - Baby!
Q - Bo, I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say you're leading the way for the new wave of Classic Rock, if you know what I mean.
A Well, thank you. That's an honor. I'll tell you something, coming from a simple cat from Alabama; I've been doing this for twelve years now, making a living at it. I've been blessed every day to be making a living at it that long. Always called my day job my second job. (laughs) One day I'm standing on the stage with guys from Lynyrd Skynyrd and the same words came out of Gary's or Ricky's mouth..."We're passing the torch, man. You gotta take this." We were playing with Three Doors Down. He said "you and these guys." He was talking to me and Brad..."You're the next generation, to pass this on." The Southern music, man. And, so I do. That's an honor. Thank you so much for the way you opened the conversation. Thank you for your support. Man, I can tell you that still hasn't set in with me, because these guys, when you say the word American Idol, I think of a Pop show. But, they were the first American Idols to me. You dig what I'm saying?
Q - Absolutely.
A - It really was crazy, crazy, crazy to be a part of that show and I went through it the whole time and always did the music I loved. To be standing there at the final dude with Lynyrd Skynyrd, just standing there, I didn't care what anybody said, didn't care what people called me...American Idol this or American Idol that. It was all good from that point on. (laughs) That's an honor that you say that 'cause we truly feel like we're here to move that...it's called Retro now. Is that what's hip?
Q - They call it Classic Rock, but when you get right down to it, it's Rock 'n' Roll.
A - Rock 'n' Roll music is a big part of not only of our history, but it's spawned so many diverse, new waves and ages of music...Punk Rock, Southern Rock. They all end in Rock. To me, the most important thing is what we started out on, it's about three chords, all of us. Every guitar player that ever picked up a guitar learned about three chords and said "Wow!" and then expanded. Now music is so diverse and people try to label (you). You pretty much have to have a label for a label to pick you up. (laughs) You tell 'em we're like Grunge Metal / Punk. No, no, no, no. Pick one. It really is nice to see Rock 'n' Roll music standing on its own, as just what it is. It's just Rock 'n' Roll. That's what I love about our show. For us, the bum note or the wrong note or the flat note...it's the nuance. That's what Rock 'n' Roll is all about. It's the 'live'. It's the unexpected. I personally don't want to sit and pay thirty bucks for a ticket to come and watch the CD. I want to see the rawness of what Rock 'n' Roll is.
Q - How's your health these days Bo?
A - Well, I'm doing fine. We've had a very busy last year. I just had a son and a broken foot and stomach surgery. Sometimes you feel good. Sometimes you don't. I'm feelin' stronger. It's a matter of workin' towards something. If you sit around and do the things they tell you not to do all the time, you're gonna be sick all the time. If you manage yourself, manage your body, manage your diet, you're gonna feel better. Trust me, I've spent a decade of my life wondering why I felt so dog gone bad and I've felt better in the past six months than I have in the past ten years. So, it's a blessing.
Q - Larry King interviewed Jon Bon Jovi. He asked him what he thought of American Idol and he said he's never watched the show, but he then went on to say that unless the winners write their own songs, they're all lounge singers. Lounge singers? Do you understand what he's talking about?
A - I guess I can understand. Idol is a phenomenon. There's nothing that's ever matched it. They're still going strong. I don't work for American Idol. I want people to know who I am aside from American Idol. But, I've always said I'll never run from Idol. It was a great opportunity for me, obviously. I worked twelve years in this business. I got passed on by three major record labels and was dog gone near to saying at thirty, forget it, I'll just do what I do now, give lessons, play these gigs and manage a guitar store, and maybe some day I'll have my own guitar store. Now, that's what I was going to do at thirty. So Idol, I'm very grateful to for giving me the opportunity now...if I retire, you might just see Bo Bice's Guitar stores. (laughs) Idol has a rap of manufactured, cookie cutter type of things, OK? I find it a bit harsh to say that anybody on that show is kind of a hack if they don't write. Personally, I'm a writer. I see where he's coming from, from that point. But also, as you see he's got a song on my album, so it didn't hurt him too bad to co-write and have that passed on to someone that was from Idol. I feel like that's kind of an open-ended thing. Idol is wonderful for what it's worth, but then also on another turn, it's not Rock 'n' Roll, dude. (laughs) Just 'cause you got a few people in Idol who play Rock, it's not Rock 'n' Roll. It's a hard line I guess to balance, but hey man, I love Bon Jovi. I love Poison. I'm a Metal guy. I love Anthrax and Motorhead. Then I happen to love Southern Rock. I love Pearl Jam. Chris Cornell from Soundgarden is one of my all time favorite singers. So, I listen to all kinds of music, man. I sort of keep my mouth shut when it comes to different styles, because if you believe in God, we all came from two people, man. It don't matter what color you are, we came from two people. So, we all got something in common. So, let's stop focusing on the stuff we're not agreeing on and finding some common thread. That's kind of the way I live and keep my nose out of people's business and their names out of my mouth. I would love to be a professional songwriter that writes for the guys from American Idol. You would make a boat load (of money). Anybody our there who wants to team up with me, c'mon! Jump onboard. We'll try to get a songwriting staff together.
Q - You have two songwriting partners, Cliff Magness and Kara Dio Guardia. Are they long time friends of yours?
A - On the album it was great because, literally fourteen days after getting out of the hospital, I was on tour for Idol, finished that tour up. Two weeks later I had my son and two hours after having my son I was in the studio recording the first notes on the album. We did a lot of work on that album. He had a lot of producers, writers. I got to write with Cliff. It was awesome 'cause Cliff and I had worked together for eight days. I was sick and in the hospital the first day we met and cancelled our first session. The next one I showed up like five hours late 'cause I wasn't feeling well. So, I go through the week feeling like we really hadn't got a lot accomplished. I was sitting there the last day in the studio playing "Valley Of Angels" on acoustic (guitar) and he turned to me and said what is that? I said this is a song I wrote about four years ago. He said just put that down acoustically with a vocal track. He brought it back in two weeks and it was just absolutely gorgeous. Sounded like what was on the CD. I got to lay down the electric guitar part, the solo parts, things like that. Laid some vocals on it. That was an honor to me 'cause Cliff and I worked for Kara on "It's My Life". They had worked together on other songs, but we had never worked together on any songs. So, it was weird. Kara was out in California and we were writing via eyesight on the Macs. So, it was really awesome. She's just a great songwriter...all those guys on there (the CD).
Q - When you went into the studio to record "The Real Thing", how much of a say did you have in song selection and production? Are you calling the shots is what I'm asking.
A - No. I mean the producers, that's what they're paid a lot of money to do. I recorded thirty-two songs in forty-seven days. Eleven made it on the disc and then we put out a jewel disc that there were two hundred thousand copies of that Clive let us do, that we had four of my original songs of me playing acoustic and had an interview session. And then it had three songs that I got to produce with Tom Kiefer of Cinderella. So, on the jewel disc, I had a lot of say. Clive let me do a lot of dabbling around with my original stuff. But on the actual disc, that was something that was Clive's baby. He did a wonderful job. He's not only one of the most famous producers in the world and in history, but he's just a genuinely good man and I'm proud to be working for him. My job is just to work hard. Hopefully this next album you'll get to see what Bo's about. I'd love to work with the same producers, just more on my stuff.
Q - The song "Vehicle" that you sang on Idol...while it was a hit, it still is rather obscure. How'd you come to hear of it in your travels?
A - Oh, no. I've always loved the Ides Of March, Blood, Sweat and Tears. And of the songs you saw me do, except "Corner Of The Sky" from the theatre show, I pretty much knew, had run across just in loving music. The Ben E. King song "Stand By Me". I love Travis Tritt, even though I flubbed up the lyrics on his song...The Allman Brothers. The first thing I think I chewed up when I was a baby was an Allman Brothers album. Skynyrd, I did "Free Bird". Every one of those songs, man, I felt was part of me. That's why when we go out to play shows, we still play that. I got a gold record hanging on my wall for doing an Ides Of March tune. So, it just blows my mind every day. The influence that Rock 'n' Roll music has had over the generations, I just would like to be an influence for the next generations.
Q - Is being a touring / recording artist everything you dreamed it would be?
A - Oh, of course. I always set my sights on this. I lived overseas. My parents traveled a lot. We traveled overseas. I feel like it was boot camp in training me all these years. My Mom and I traveled a lot when I was younger. So, travel is not a big thing. Now, there are some things that come along with it; being in the public eye. I'm grateful for this job. I'm grateful that we have fans. I guess what hurts me is the people out there that don't have good intentions, that say bad stuff or write bad stuff to try and hurt your feelings or to get a rise out of you. I think that's one of the hardest parts for me, being just kind of a passive person. I'm kind of a love everybody kind of dude. Really honestly, I've always said if it ever changes the quality of my life, I'll get out of it. I don't feel like there's anything that could change the quality of this. As many fans as we've got and as many people that show genuine love for us, I hope to be out here for thirty years, dude, no matter the good, the bad, the ugly. It's all I've ever dreamed, and more!