BOBBY is a band to watch (and not just because we know someone in it)

Up-and-coming band BOBBY. Top, from left: Roby Moulton, Julian Labat, Tom Greenberg, Martin Zimmermann, and Paolo Menuez. Bottom, from left: Amelia Randall Meath, Molly Erin Sarle. Photo by Doug Menuez.

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If you follow indie music, then you know that BOBBY is swiftly earning a reputation as a band to watch. (Sample glowing writeup here.) And if you were at SXSW last week or caught the Low Anthem show at Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan earlier this month, you may even have seen BOBBY—whose music has been described as haunting, infectious, lovely, and “the sound of Appalachian folklore at its finest”—perform live.

But you probably didn’t know that BOBBY was cofounded by Paolo Menuez, Doug Menuez’s son. Here, the proud papa fills us in on BOBBY’s genesis and talks about shooting the band’s publicity photos. (Notably, it’s not the first time father and son collaborated: Scroll down to the end of the post to see a portrait that Doug took of Paolo in 1995.)

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My son Paolo’s new band is called BOBBY. They’re on tour with the Low Anthem (who were featured on the front of the NYT’s Arts & Leisure section last month) as the opening act.

The Low Anthem is breaking out superhot, so BOBBY is getting great exposure. They played the Bowery Ballroom to a packed house and just did three shows at SXSW in Austin, and are now driving their beat-up cars back to Western Mass, where they all live together in an old house in the woods. All but one of them just graduated college last May and were immediately signed to Partisan Records, the very cool Brooklyn label that has Deer Tick and Mountain Man, among other talented bands.

BOBBY had only two songs, but the label gave them some money and D. James Goodwin, an engineer/producer, and they worked all summer and fall to write their new album, which they finished recording in January up in Woodstock. A release date hasn’t been set, but the album is coming out very soon. (Paolo just called to say that the first single, “Sore Spores,” is already No. 12 in Qatar, of all places.)

Their manager wanted publicity photos, so I agreed to go up to Western Mass and try. These shots are a few from a very short session in the freezing, pouring ran, standing up to my knees in melting snow. They seem to really like these, so we may do more shoots, which I would love to do.

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BOBBY. Photo by Doug Menuez.

BOBBY. Photo by Doug Menuez.

BOBBY. Photo by Doug Menuez.

BOBBY. Photo by Doug Menuez.

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One of the three singers in Mountain Man is a key part of BOBBY. Her name is Molly Erin Sarle. But she is still in college in Vermont and did not make the tour, so her former bandmate Amelia Randall Meath filled in and was truly impressive, making the sound of the band even richer. Molly has the most magical voice—I think it’s a once-in-a-generation voice. But Amelia, as it turns out, is pretty amazing herself and has figured out how to cover for Molly, sometimes eerily echoing the timbre of her voice, other times adding her own signature.

Another interesting thing about BOBBY is that they haven’t followed any of the normal pathways of new indie bands. They were signed without an album, they have no Facebook page, and as far as I know, have no MySpace page either, although they may be getting one.

They have a fantastic manager who is like a breath of fresh air, based on my past experience in the music biz. But the band is shy and reticent to do any PR at this point. They are just feeling their way. So they had no pix to give to bloggers or reviewers on the tour. This is how one blogger described them: “BOBBY: UNGOOGLEABLE.” (I mentioned the post on my blog earlier this month.)

Flying under the radar has actually been a good thing for them. At the Bowery gig, there were people, young women, screaming the band’s name. It was incredible to me that anyone even knew who they were, as they have not released the record or done any publicity and were playing, like, their third gig ever. They are starting to get the buzz, and probably you can Google them now… The main thing, though, is that they have such a cool sound and are all extremely accomplished musicians.

Actually, my son had another band in which he was the lead singer, composer, and played piano and guitar, etc., but he was asked to help his friend Tom Greenberg cook up two songs for Tom’s graduation thesis. It was on the basis of those two songs that BOBBY’s record deal was offered. Paolo’s old band seemed to be winding down, so he and that band’s drummer jumped fully into BOBBY.

BOBBY is built mainly around Tom’s songs and his vision, and my son has fully committed to that. We’ll see how it unfolds, but no matter what, he’s really getting a good education in the record business in the digital era. We could not be prouder and are just astounded they have made it this far. The only thing harder than photography, I think, is music.

Here’s a link to the first single, “Sore Spores.” (Scroll down to see the crazy-weird album cover. Supposedly it’s a self-portrait by BOBBY, but no one I know has met him yet, and he was not at the shows I saw…)

Here’s BOBBY’s page at Partisan Records: http://www.partisanrecords.com/artists/bobby/bio/

And here’s a portrait I made of Paolo at age 8, in 1995:

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Paolo Menuez in 1995. Photo by Doug Menuez.

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2 Comments

  1. pamela warrick
    Posted 06/03/2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    i am tom greenberg’s mother and would like to copy and print some of the awesome images paolo’s dad doug shot of bobby, the band. can you help? thanks!
    pamela

    • Posted 06/03/2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Hi, Pamela. I have forwarded your request and info to Doug. He’ll be in touch soon.

      Cheers,
      Kristina


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