Bobby Petite performs at the Underground Coffee House on May 22. // Photo by Claire Ott
By Claire Ott
“I just sh*t my pants,” isn’t a lyric that you can expect to hear from your typical American Top 40 pop radio musicians, but the artists in breakout Bellingham band Bobby Petite have no intention of being labeled as such.
The rock and soul student band have immensely enjoyed their experience working together, according to the band’s guitarist Ryan Barney, singer and bassist Oli Moseley and drummer Bella Cole-Preciado.
On a sunny day in early May, Bobby — as the bandmates refer to the group casually — sat together at Schweinhaus Biergarten to talk about their music and soak up the long-awaited sun after a spell of rain.
The members of Bobby Petite found inspiration for their soulful sound to the musical stylings of Thunderpussy, Cherry Glazerr, Nirvana and Cage The Elephant. According to Barney, the trio often seeks guidance from the works of these artists when trying to move past their own writer’s block.
“Cage The Elephant has a lot of bluesy chord progressions similar to the ideas of chord progressions that Bobby has,” Barney said.
Amidst trying times, such as creative differences and struggles with stress, the three are comfortable enough with each other to express their needs as artists. Moseley and Preciado, who have been friends since childhood, realized years ago that their mutual passion for live performance connected them deeply.
This commonality was what prompted the two to practice together before they ever considered creating a band. Despite knowing their sound was incomplete, the two continued to play out of love for their craft.
It wasn’t until Barney, a mutual friend of Preciado’s at the time, overheard them playing at her house and asked if he could join. It was during this collaboration that the group wrote their first song, “Sour.”
“Bella and I have been jamming for a while, but we sounded awful,” Moseley said. “We needed a little something and Barney was that little something.”
The trio swiftly became popular in the local scene after that. Quick to bond, the three began to play, practice and write together as often as possible, they remembered. Bobby’s boundless talent for exciting the crowd inspired a scheduled performer at a house show one night, and they were invited to play their first live set.
Receiving this offer unexpectedly, the group did not have their own instruments on hand and declined. However, thanks to this interaction, it became evident that it was time for their passion project to take its next step, according to Barney.
“It’s my favorite time to be breathing,” Barney said about performing.
Being that all of the members are full-time Western students with jobs, time is of the essence for perfecting their craft. Though they have played multiple live shows, the three often only have time to practice their songs on stage.
This practice is not viewed as an extra stressor by the members, though. According to Moseley, playing music together and hyping each other up is where they find their ultimate peace amidst the noise of their other responsibilities.
“Music is my de-stressor,” Moseley said. “We’re constantly expected to do stuff and with Bobby we set our own schedule.”
However, thanks to their ability to recognize the others’ needs, they’ve been able to refine their skills while juggling other responsibilities. According to Barney and Preciado, this is the first time any of them have been a part of a group with this level of professionalism.
“We’ve juggled this passion with maturity, so we can end up getting through those heated moments,” Preciado said.
Having been together for less than a year, the three are ecstatic to have the opportunity to play at highly-anticipated events like the Bellingham Arts and Music Festival. The large crowd, the energy, the production quality and the idea of being surrounded by other music lovers are all motivators for the three when preparing for BAMF, according to Barney.
“It means a lot as a band member to have people show up,” Barney said. “Large crowds have so many energies bouncing off of each other.”
Bobby still has a special place in their heart for smaller venues, according to Moseley. The level of intimacy that can be achieved at house shows and local bars is a really beautiful thing, she said. In the same breath, however, it can make the performance all the more intimidating.
No matter the crowd size, nothing makes Bobby Petite happier than to see onlookers dancing along to their music and enjoying themselves, they said.
“Whatever beat I play, I can feel the crowd and energy levels changing,” Preciado said. “You can really see the crowd move with you. It’s purely a release, and it’s awesome.”
In preparation for the event, the group has been in conversation with local artists about selling custom T-shirts. Having previously created their own album art, the trio is excited about the idea of supporting other growing creatives, they said.
Preciado hopes those who listen to Bobby Petite will walk away asking themselves, “Where does this love come from?” Often an overlooked detail, this practice is what initiated her love of music from a young age, she said.
In years to come, Bobby Petite intends to grow beyond a local scale, the band members said. While they recognize the importance of their studies, pursuing Bobby Petite as a career would be a dream come true, according to Moseley.
“With this being such a pure source of enjoyment, and really being a friendship and emotional outlet, it would honestly be the ideal job,” Moseley said. “I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend my days.”
Until that day comes, Bobby Petite will continue to perform local sets at large and small venues alike. While in the process of creating new music, their current published works can be found on Bandcamp.com