If you’ve never heard of Bob Reed, then we here at Spinesis are sincerely honored to introduce you to him. He is a true musical treasure. Bob has as much raw, natural talent as one will ever see in a musical artist.
Recent years have seen him at the helm of the Bay Area’s best rocksteady band Titan Ups. Before starting the Titans, he also toured with SF’s Oranger. But he may be best known for his days leading the highly influential and storied rock outfit Overwhelming Colorfast.
Bob Reed is like a rolodex when it comes to personal experiences and stories about popular music. Naturally, we were psyched when he agreed to participate because we knew he’d break off a gem or two for us. To our delight, he shared THREE – and he even decided to get topical for Spinesis. We hope you enjoy our third installment of #SFTGR with this three-part Nirvana-themed edition from the one and only Bob Reed. Take it away Bob…
Stories from the Green Room, Volume 003:
[Photo of Bob Reed. Credit Unknown]
“Have you watched that new documentary on Nirvana yet? It’s kinda brought back some memories of those days which were pretty interesting, kinda heady days…
As a result of my brother and I working at the record store here in Antioch, we knew this sales guy from Sub Pop.
When we did our first demo we like sent ’em out to all the people we talked to on the phone at the record store. Salespeople in LA and New York and what have you, ya know? And this Sub Pop guy was one of them. He turned out to be a really cool cat.
So we were playing up in Seattle on one of our first trips up there. Overwhelming Colorfast was opening for Redd Kross and it just happened to be the night that the Rodney King riots were going on all over the country.
[Press photo of Overwhelming Colorfast.]
This club we were playing at called ‘Rock Candy’ was fairly new. They didn’t know if they were going to keep the show or not; they were like on the fence about whether or not to cancel last minute. So we loaded in our gear and we did our sound-check. And we went to go back to our Sub Pop friend’s house and I think Kevin Arnold (creator of the Noise Pop music festival) was driving.
[Photo courtesy of Overwhelming Colorfast on Facebook]
We turned this corner on this main street and about 150 yards down the street it looked like there was about a thousand people and cops on horseback coming straight at us. So we flipped a bitch really quick and went back to the club.
The show ended up happening.
I noticed after we played there was this really tall skinny dude hanging out with this really greasy, long-haired fat dude. And I was like, “That’s the bass player for Nirvana and THAT’s my fucking idol Gary Lee Connor the lead guitar player for Screaming Trees.”
So I went over and started chattin’ with them. Gary Lee Connor I was the most impressed with ‘cuz I wasn’t that big of a Nirvana fan ever. And this was just right as Nevermind came out and it hadn’t gotten blown up huge yet. Even so, even when it was huge, I wasn’t that huge of a Nirvana fan.
But I was excited on Gary Lee Connor – and he couldn’t have been a bigger dick to me if he tried.
And he was trying. I was trying to ask questions about their recordings and blah blah blah because I was such a huge fan.
What ended up happening that night was me and Krist Novoselic ended up hanging out and getting shit-housed together. Like, he and I kinda locking arms and dancing around in a circle kinda shit, ya know? At the end of the night we had our van and we told Krist and his wife we’d give him a ride home. We had also tried to give Gary Lee Connor and his fat-ass a ride home too and he had said no, of course.
I guess Krist had just bought his first house with Nirvana money and it was a small place. We went inside and the house was completely devoid of any furniture except for a brand-new La-Z-Boy and a TV set. We were really drunk and a little bit stoned and we smoked a joint. It was all of us, it was me, my brother, all the guys in the band, Kevin Arnold, Krist Novoselic and his wife who had had enough of this ridiculousness.
And Krist spent like ten minutes scouring through his house and asking his wife ‘Shelli! Shelli! Where is that bottle of Moet and Chandon? Where is that bottle of Moet and Chandon?! This is a special occasion.’ He was trying to find this expensive bottle of champagne because apparently us being there was a special occasion.
He never found it … and his wife won … and we got the fuck outta there.
He gave us his home number and told us to call him next time we were in town. But we never did because by that time Nirvana had gotten huge.
That was a fun night.
I remember when we were doing our first Colorfast record out in Madison* with Butch Vig.
[Photo courtesy of Overwhelming Colorfast on Facebook]
Every night we’d break around 6 or 7 and go get some dinner somewhere. One night we were all piled in Butch’s car driving to go pick up some food and he said:
“Do you wanna hear some of the new Nirvana?” He had a cassette tape and he popped it into his car and it was the first time we ever heard Smells Like Teen Spirit. Probably the first time a lot of people ever heard it. From the opening chords you just knew like ‘Holy shit, this is really fucking good.’
So I said, “Can I get a copy of this?”
And Butch said, “No you may not.”
This last story – and the only reason these Nirvana stories are coming to mind is because I just watched that documentary the other day on HBO so it kind of brought it to the fore – we were on the road a few years later around ’93. And this was when Nirvana was kind of at their peak, I guess like ’93-94.
We were on tour with a group from Boise called Treepeople. Their lead singer morphed off early on and started this band called Built to Spill which got pretty popular. Treepeople were a good bunch of guys and we did a lot of touring with them. They were on a label out of Seattle called C/Z Records, which was kinda like Sub Pop, Jr.
We got to Kansas City, MO one night and Nirvana was in town playing the Superdome or whatever. I don’t think they were playing that night, I think they were playing the night after. Long story short, we’re playing this bar in Kansas City, which is still there as far as I know. Oranger played there in 2005.
Kurt Cobain came to the show.
I have no illusions that he came to see us, I think he was buddies with the Treepeople guys. This bar was like an old club, a rectangle shaped room, ok? And at one end of the room is the stage and at the other end of the room is a circular type bar. Kurt Cobain was sitting at the bar and he was wearing one of those old men sort of hats that has like the fleece lining and plaid on the outside with a bill and they have ear flaps that come down, ya know? He was wearing it with the ear flaps down and like pulled down as far as he could.
The club got totally packed. We and the Treepeople would switch nights headlining and this particular night, we headlined. So by the time we hit the stage the place was packed because word had gotten out that Kurt Cobain was there. This was before the cell phone days so the pay phone next to the bar had a continuous line of about 6 people calling friends telling them Kurt Cobain was there.
We played our entire set to about 150 people’s backs because they were all turned around looking at Kurt Cobain sitting at the bar. So that totally sucked.” -Bob Reed
*Madison, WI @ Smart Studios
Bob Reed’s upcoming shows:
Titan Ups @ The Makeout Room, 6/11/15 w/ Extra Classic
Check out Bob’s band links below: