When musicians discuss their inspirations, you expect to hear names like the Beatles, Bob Dylan, George Clinton or Nirvana.
But stunt daredevil Evel Knievel and comic book hero Superman are the kind of cultural titans no one mentions — unless you happen to be Bob Log III.
"A lot of what I do is physically impossible," insists the Tucson, Ariz.-based one-man-band, whose work has been released by Fat Possum, Sympathy for the Record Industry and even Epic/Sony Japan. "I'm a guitar player — that's first. But then I make [my performances] physically impossible by putting a girl on each knee and playing drums while sweating my ass off in a suit with a helmet on my head — and then do it 150 days a year."
Like his iconic heroes, the mysterious, comical showman also sports a signature outfit and keeps his real identity a carefully guarded secret. Log's costume includes a motorcycle helmet with a rotary phone hot-glued to its jaw, often accompanied by a figure skater's blue leotard.
It's an image that tends to look pretty ridiculous, which is of course the point. "A lot of bands can play music good, but it's not anything to look at," says Log, who prefers the showmanship of Elvis Presley, Peaches, the Cramps and AC/DC.
His own sound is a gleefully untamed mix of Delta blues and old-school rockabilly that would go great with liquor and barbecue.
There's an affable crudeness in tracks like "Land of a Thousand Swirling Asses," "Drunk Stripper" and "Clap Your Tits." A few songs have their own outlandish rituals: There's the ever-popular "Boob Scotch," which we won't get into here, as well as his tendency to recruit women from the crowd to sit on his knees for performances of "I Want Your Shit on My Leg."
Log also has some pretty interesting explanations for the whereabouts of Bob Logs I and II: Log I, he says, plays trumpet in basements, II plays piano in the back of a truck while wearing a chicken mask. As for himself, Log teases that he's actually a member of the Strokes under his guise.
Even Tom Waits has allegedly vouched for Log's silly shtick. In a well-circulated quote with no clear source, Waits called Log's work "the loudest, strangest stuff you've ever heard," adding that he likes "people who glue macaroni onto a piece of cardboard and paint it gold. That's what I aspire to basically."
During shows, the multi-instrumentalist encourages audiences to adopt a similar devil-may-care attitude, so that he can play the role of a "lion tamer" trying to manage the havoc. He claims that the really crazy shows happen in lesser-known cities. In Bellingham, Wash., Log says the crowd lobs so much beer at the stage that he has to drape ponchos over his equipment, while Iowa City concerts end with broken glass surrounding the stage.
This is the kind of stuff Log does it all for. "[With] every song I make, I'm just trying to make it so if we're at a party and this comes on, bring the party up a notch now," he says. "After five records of this, I can bring a party up a lot of notches."