Bob’s Words

In Interview on June 11, 2013 at 3:29 am

bob sing

Things you could learn from having a conversation with Bob Suren:

– Try things outside of your comfort zone.
– Things don’t come all at once. Work hard and be patient.
– Enjoy your life. Say ‘yes’ when an opportunity approaches you.
– Let life challenge you. Meet life in the middle.
– Stick to your values. In the end, that’s what’s important.
– Stay positive– even when it’s awful and it hurts.

Bob is well-traveled, very organized, and throws 110% of himself into whatever he’s working on– whether that be a record store, a band, or a book he’s writing. Here are his words.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

One of my earliest memories is reading a book about dinosaurs. I wanted to be a dinosaur scientist. Then I wanted to be a shark scientist, if that is a real thing. Then I found out that stunt man is a job and I wanted to be one of those. In seventh grade I got interested in writing because of the book Cruel Shoes by Steve Martin. I went to college for journalism but found I disliked it. It was not the sort of writing I wanted to do.

You have sung in bands, ran a record store and venue, and recently finished writing a book. What’s something you’d like to do but haven’t yet?

I am in an exploring phase of my life. I am not sure what’s next but it will be something very different. I am looking forward to putting the music part of my life to rest. Maybe art. I have not really tried to express myself with art but I am an art lover. One of the best things about living in Tampa is the Tampa Museum of Art. I go as much as I can. I have also been writing poetry, which is something that makes most people gag, but I enjoy the absolute freedom that poetry offers. You can literally do anything you want and it only matters that you like it.

sound idea

You’re about to move to Costa Rica. What do you think it takes to make a literal and metaphorical move like this?

I had a big shake up in my life, namely a painful separation and divorce, which has left me with the opportunity to start over any way I want. I am trying to stay positive about it. I am going to try to make the best of this chance and not get too dark and weird. I am trying to remain upbeat and curious. Humor has been a good salve. A sense of adventure and the feeling that I have nowhere to go but up have been motivating. The last time a long relationship ended bad for me, I fell into a long, dark spiral. Some good music came out of that era of my life, which was creatively fulfilling but I was in general not very happy. People keep telling me I am brave to start over this way, but I feel like I am diving in headfirst without knowing the waters, so I am not sure if that is brave or foolish.

What has to happen for you to remain in Costa Rica after the six month trial period?

I will have to find something or someone I really enjoy about the area. If I am just staying locked inside alone every day, then I’ll try somewhere else until I find a good fit.

Who do you admire and why?

I am a big fan of Henry Rollins. We have net a few times and have corresponded. I have been inspired by his music, writing and spoken performances for decades. People love to rip on Henry and I don’t get it. He is multi-talented and successful. Be happy for him. I am also a fan of Ian Mackaye who has been extremely successful in music on his own terms. I met Ian recently and for such a famous person, he was amazingly humble and sincere. Those are two great success stories right there.

henry and bob

Tell us about your book, please! What are you hoping to get across to people who read your words and stories?

I have written a book about my 30 years in punk rock, from a teenage fan to a band member to a record label owner, to a record store owner, to a concert promoter, to a music journalist, to a radio show host and a few other things. I have worn a lot of hats in music. But the music is really just in the background. This book is more about universal themes. There are anecdotes of friendship, adventure, frustration, satisfaction, loss, heartbreak and more. There are funny stories and sad stories. It is the entire spectrum of the human experience. It has been written in a such way that the reader doesn’t need to know the music to relate to the stories. People kept telling me that I have so many cool stories I should write a book, so I did. But the themes expressed in the book are themes that everyone has experienced. In that way, the book is very relatable. It is 70 chapters. Some of the chapters are very short. One chapter is a haiku. Each chapter is a little piece of my life and when you put them all together, you get a pretty complete picture of who I am and how I have spent my last 30 years. It is a very human story.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?

I over commit to everything. I get too invested. I go too far. I never know when to quit. I know this, but I make the same mistake over and over. So I guess I have not learned that lesson. I am trying to learn moderation. Eventually another obsession will come along and I will run it into the ground. I see it coming and I can’t stop. I am trying to be better about that.

What’s something that running Sound Idea taught you?

Work with what you have. It taught me to recognize assets and skills and to utilize them to the max.

What’s singing and touring with a band taught you?

The work is its own reward. I am proud of my body of work. Work to satisfy yourself first and if other people get what you are doing, that’s a bonus. But I play the same way for ten people as I do for 200 people.

march 2003 bob

What’s the process of writing your book taught you?

I used to never edit. I used to be all about the spontaneity. For me the first draft was always the finished draft. That was the punk rock approach to writing — it was more about feeling than perfection. Now I see the value in refining. The more times you read something, the smother and stronger it becomes. Don’t be afraid to change your words. Don’t be afraid to cut words. And don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. I thought my book was perfect, but my editor has been sending me notes for rewrites. They are very small things and for the most part, I am deferring to him. It actually got me a little mad at first to see him crossing things out, but it has made the writing leaner and stronger.

What do you tell yourself when things get difficult?

This is only temporary. I got through worse, I can get through this. Other people have it worse and they’re hanging in. I met a Holocaust survivor recently. Next to what he went through, my shit is not that bad.

Finish these sentences:

I’m looking for… something and someone exciting for the rest of my life.
I will never… destroy myself.
I hate when… people give up too soon.
I love… checking out new places and things.

  1. Haha….Bob is awesome. He gave up a fun verbal trip through Egypt, and I am pretty excited to read his book! He seems like a very interesting go-getter. Keep up posted on the book release date!

  2. As soon as I find out I’ll let you know, Laura! We missed you at Philippines and Rocky Mountain National Park. 😛

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