Bob Fossil: Inspired to get freaky

Text by Halee Hastad

Photo by Sarah Van Houten

The recycling bin is filled to the brim with empty bottles of Corona. Bob Fossil reads a collection of white foam letter shapes in the front window of a grey-blue house. They are visible from the street, along with a shabby white picket fence and small shed, also grey-blue.

Bob Fossil, a Bellingham band and not the television character, practices in this shed – a space roughly 20 feet by 15. The carpet is beige and the ceilings, decorated with posters of The Smashing Pumpkins and The Pixies, are low.

One’s sense, standing in the small space with all six members of the band, is that they get saucy in here. Six jamming, slamming and rocking 20-something men in this space. One thought surfaces above all – sweat. And then passion, because it is evident that these guys are burning with it.

It is just after 1 o’clock on a Friday afternoon and three of the six members patiently await the other half in a living room that looks like it belongs to men in a pseudo-rock band. Gurgling from a coffee maker in the kitchen is audible as one of the tardy members enters the front door.

“Someone took out the recycling. Sweet,” he said. Then, “Oh, and someone is making coffee. Cool.”

Read my mind.

The full band is here at 1:30.

Bob Fossil is composed of Kenny Clarkson (front man), Alan Schellenberger (drums), Bobby Hall (vocals, percussion), Hank Miller (bass, vocals), Corey Teply (keyboard, shouting) and Joe Canfield (guitar).

A milky, peanut butter banana, peach mango potato smoothie is what they would be, they tell me after much debate on each member’s contributing ingredients. Immediately the realization occurs that this is a democratic band. They contemplate, they discuss and then they vote. And they do this before answering most questions. It makes sense, because how else would a band of their size function well without making sure everyone is on the same page, or at least part of the same chapter?

This sextet began making music in 2013 and just released their second full-length album, American Hippo, on May 1. The work was produced at Champion St. Sound Studios last February, over Valentine’s Day weekend, in a total of no more than 72 hours.

“It was like a marathon,” Alan remarked.

The 14-track album follows their self-titled piece as a reflection of the development of a character that is taking place as a metaphor for the group.

“The intention behind this second one is preservation of the self, or the image, that was created in the first album,” Kenny said, who is responsible with writing most of the band’s songs.

Transformation is relevant in both the characters of the band and their music. We are talking about a group of young men who are in the midst of discovering a little bit about a little thing called life, and their sound reflects that.

There is a surprise within many, if not all, of their songs. They like to keep the audience always guessing, always adjusting to change.

“We want our music to inspire people to get freaky,” Hank said. And although the others laugh – half-agreeing, half not – they all sense some truth in the statement.

Their sound is rock and roll meets pop meets funk and soul. Groovy, moody, and determined to get listeners moving.

Bob Fossil, inspired by cribbage, is a band worth listening to. This is due to their being a large band, with each member having different taste and style, and it is possible that this is also due to the closeness they have maintained within the group. The dog house turned practice space, the sandals with socks, the democratic process, empty bottles of Corona, coffee, a shabby white fence and the Styrofoam letters in the window – everything.

LIVE SHOWS: Catch Bob Fossil at Endfair on May 14, Wild Buffalo on May 24, and Boundary Bay on May 21. See their website at bobfossilmusic.com and Facebook page for updates. 

Published in the May 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine