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An Interview with Albany-based Singer/Songwriter Rob Skane

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An Interview with Singer/Songwriter Rob Skane

By Justin Henry Fallon

Rob SkaneAlbany native Rob Skane has referred to his music as “garagefolkrocknroll.” Skane’s career dates back to 1994, with the release of his solo acoustic offering, Throwing It All Back Up, which was originally released on audio cassette. With several years of playing the coffeehouse circuit under his belt, Skane released his first full-length album, Nowheresville in 1997, which received critical praise. After stints in local bands Dugans and the Lawn Sausages, he released SelfNoise in 2002. His latest album, Phantom Power Trip, has received unanimous praise (you can read our review here.) I recently spoke with Rob about his career, his musical influences and his love of the guitar.

The Free George: How long have you been a musician? What instruments do you play? Is there any instrument that you have a special kinship with, that you care for more than another?
Rob Skane:
I have been a musician since the late 1980s. My main instrument is guitar, I also play piano and drums. I have a special kinship with the guitar, either electric or acoustic. I can’t figure out what it is, but every time I play guitar it brings me back to my bedroom as a young kid. It’s an awesome feeling. And, I have always felt that every day you get to play your guitar is a day you get to play your guitar!

TFG: Is there anyone that you consider a big influence on your music?
I couldn’t pick just one big musical influence; my biggest influences with respect to my music would be The Beatles, Nick Lowe and Paul Westerberg.

TFG: How have your music tastes changed over the years?
My music tastes haven’t changed at all over the years; I still love rock and roll.

TFG: Who is your favorite musician currently making music?
Nick Lowe.

TFG: Besides 2010’s Phantom Power Trip, have you released any other solo records, or albums with other groups?
RS: There is stuff that came out before Phantom Power Trip – but it’s all out of print.

TFG: Many of the songs on Phantom Power Trip seem to be about heartbreak. Do you think creating music about life’s difficulties is therapeutic?
RS: I don’t feel like any of the tunes on Phantom Power Trip are about heartbreak. But, that’s the cool thing about music, or art in general – it’s all in the eyes of the beholder, or the ears of the listener. It can be interpreted so many ways. I feel like some of the tunes on PPT might be about unrequited love/lust. I think it’s really cool that people can listen to this disc and relate some of the tunes to their own life’s experiences. With respect to creating music about life’s difficulties being therapeutic, I suppose it might be helpful and I bet it has been helpful to many songwriters. I haven’t ever attempted to do it. I think I’d be too bummed out if I had to revisit a difficult time in my life every time I sang a certain song.

TFG: On your website, it says you have been a guitar teacher for many years. How does your experience as a music educator reflect or change your relationship with guitar or with songwriting?
RS: My experience as a music educator has changed my relationship with the guitar for the better with regard to having a more in-depth knowledge of what my musical options could be when I am improvising or composing. It’s great to have options when you’re playing a tune -chord substitution stuff or scale stuff, for example, add some nice
colors to the palette.

TFG: Do you find that you enjoy the process of songwriting and recording more than the experience of playing live? If so, why?
Great question! I enjoy all of the processes equally, because each one has a totally different vibe. Playing live is great because you gotta leave it where you flung it – and there’s no second chances. Recording is a blast because you get to document your tunes. I get a real kick out of experimenting with different sounds while recording. You may have a general idea of where you want the tune to go, but the song always takes YOU where it wants to go, you just got to listen. Songwriting is a fascinating process. I honestly have no idea where the tunes come from. Sometimes, you find them, sometimes they find you.

TFG: What was your best live show experience? What was your worst live show experience?
I’d say my best live experience playing a solo acoustic gig was in New York City at a place called Bar B. It was just a cool vibe, packed house, people dug it and I got more work from that gig. It was just an awesome night. Worst live experience was doing a band gig in Pittsburgh, PA at the Electric Banana (I’m not kidding…) there was some huge party going on not far from the club and almost all of Pittsburgh was at this party and NO ONE was at the Electric Banana. We did our set to a few stragglers from the party and the bar staff and the owner of the club, who kept hitting on the other guitar player in my band… What a night! But, you know – every musician has stories like that.

TFG: How would you describe your relationship with music? What are your goals/ambitions in music?
RS: Music is my career at this point, teaching guitar, playing gigs and recording other people, once in a while. My goal is to keep getting better. I am comfortable with what I do, I just want to do it better today than I did it yesterday.

TFG: How old were you when you wrote your first song?
RS: I was probably 13 or 14.

TFG: How have you matured or changed as a musician since then?
I’ve matured and changed as a musician and more importantly, as a person since then. But, I still have the same passion for music that I had when I was a little kid. And I’m very grateful for that.

For more information about Rob Skane’s music, visit To read a review on The Free George of Skane’s most recent album, Phantom Power Trip, click here.

–Justin Henry Fallon is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our new City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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