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Monday, May 10, 2021

Catching up with local band Bob Fossil

The Bob Fossil Band out of Western Washington University puts up a new piece of art inside their practice shed on March 2. // Photo by Daniel Liddicoet
The Bob Fossil Band out of Western Washington University puts up a new piece of art inside their practice shed on March 2. // Photo by Daniel Liddicoet

Grunge funk. Complex party music. Melodic Porn Rock.

These are some of the names the members of Bob Fossil have heard their band’s genre described as. They themselves metaphorically refer to themselves as “fossil rock,” nicknamed after their band title, lead singer and guitarist Kenny Clarkson said.

The six members of Bob Fossil, which is named after a character from the British television show “The Mighty Boosh,” have been busy establishing themselves within the music scene in Bellingham, Kenny said. They started from playing mainly house shows to performing in busy venues such as Wild Buffalo and Shakedown, Kenny said.

Bob Fossil has a tour planned for spring break, starting with a house show in Bellingham on March 18. From there they plan on traveling to Seattle, Eugene, Olympia and Portland with the hopes of playing up to eight shows total.

Bob Fossil members also plan on embarking on another tour over the summer with plans of heading to Los Angeles and possibly Texas, Kenny said.

Bob Fossil’s self-titled album is available to listen to on the Bandcamp website, as well as their website, www.bobfossilmusic.com.

Kenny and bass player Hank Miller met through the admitted students Facebook page before the start of their freshman year. This is how they discovered their shared love of music and decided to become roommates. After deciding to start a band after arriving at Western, Kenny and Hank met their soon-to-be bandmates Joe Canfield and Bobby Hall while playing on the campus tennis courts. Bob Fossil was formed soon after.

What/Who has been your biggest musical influence?

Hank Miller: His high school band teacher and Vulfpeck, an instrumental funk band

Joe Canfield: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and Frank Zappa

Corey Teply: Led Zeppelin, because they do it all

Kenny Clarkson: Classical music, bluegrass, grunge, punk, rock n’ roll

Alan Schellenberger: His dad, who would always play a wide variety of records while he was growing up which exposed him to a lot of different music genres

Bobby Hall: Folk music, Built to Spill and Modest Mouse

Kenny, a senior and journalism major, is originally from Maryland and said he chose Western as his university because of its location and proximity to the music scene on the west coast.

Kenny said the band’s most unique experience was playing a show at Glow nightclub with a bluegrass band, a folk duo and a rap group. He said although playing in bigger venues like that is fun, he still enjoys playing house shows just as much.

“I love all those guys and I know all those guys love me and we love playing music together because we create something that, at the end of the day, we like,” Kenny said. “It’s beautiful to watch other people like it too, but the fact that we’re having so much fun is nice in itself.”

Drummer Alan Schellenberger, a junior at Western, joined Bob Fossil as the new drummer in October 2015. Originally from Livermore, California, he decided on Western after his friend went and liked what he saw in Washington. He began playing the drums at the age of nine and at ten was part of his school’s band. After playing music with a friend last summer, he was introduced to Hank, who quickly recruited him to Bob Fossil.

Alan said the collaborative nature of the band is what he enjoys most, using the analogy of the songs Kenny presents the band with being like a mannequin and the other band members are there to help dress it.

“The way that I feel about a band is it’s a friendship that’s expressed in a very unique way,” he said. “It’s just expressing your friendship without words.”

Senior Joe Canfield, who plays guitar and does backup vocals for Bob Fossil, is minoring in audio technology at Fairhaven and said he also acts as the band’s mixing engineer for their upcoming record. Joe started playing guitar around the age of 12 and said he played in his high school’s jazz band where he took an interest in playing blues guitar.

“What I really like about this band is the music is so inspired; it has feeling in it and it has soul,” Joe said. “Because I live with all the other band members we all have a connection together and I think we all feel the same thing.”

Hank, a senior at Western, has been involved with music for the past 12 years and started out playing the trombone. After listening to his mom’s classic rock records, including The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, he developed a passion for the guitar which later transitioned into a love for the bass after starting to play in his junior year of high school.

Bob Fossil Tour Dates

March 15- Wild Buffalo, Bellingham

March 18- House Show, Bellingham (They can’t give out the address because of the risk of police)

March 20- House Show, Olympia

March 21- Central Saloon, Seattle

March 22- Alberta Street Pub, Portland OR

March 23- Old Nick’s Pub, Eugene OR

March 25- Brewstation, Eugene OR

Kenny Clarkson, lead singer of Bob Fossil Band, belts out a song during a practice session on March 2. // Photo by Daniel Liddicoet
Kenny Clarkson, lead singer of Bob Fossil Band, belts out a song during a practice session on March 2. // Photo by Daniel Liddicoet

Hank loves seeing what six different people add to a song, he said. “It’s not just one person’s ideas, it’s a collective,” Hank said.

Senior Bobby Hall’s role in the band is diverse, including playing the synthesizer, using vocals and occasionally playing the tambourine. He said he began by playing bass when he was 16 and eventually moved into playing the synthesizer for Bob Fossil. After experimenting with poetry during his sophomore year, he and the band began incorporating the poetry into their songs.

“When we come together and we’re on that level where no one’s thinking and it’s all very instinctual and the energy is just there, it almost makes me want to cry sometimes because it’s so emotional,” Bobby said.

Senior Corey Teply plays the keyboard for Bob Fossil. He said after stopping playing the piano after the fifth grade, he only started back up again after being bored at home after an injury during soccer. Corey was in another band with Joe and Bobby in high school in Olympia, and after they all started at Western Corey would occasionally play with Bob Fossil until Kenny approached him one night after a show and told him he was going to be in the band.

“It’s a family, we all get along really well,” Corey said. “One thing is the music and how we mesh there, but at the same time it’s how we get along as friends. It’s definitely the best part of Bob Fossil.”

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