Everyone in this band fascinates me, just from a how-on-earth-were-we-sent-to-one-another sort of thing. But since Rob is always to my left during practice and gigs, I study him more closely. He’s got that insight into the popular taste thing down. He just knows what works, period. When Rob tells you a song is great, the song is great. And when he says a performance was in the pocket, or an image for a poster is perfect, the performance was in fact excellent and the image is the best one.
I would like to say that Rob is the brains of the band, except that nobody with any brains would be in this band in the first place, but he is definitely the ears and eyes, and he is the conduit to tunes that keep us connected to the crowd, to each other, and to the love of playing in bands that has survived in all of us since we were kids. His grasp of the total impact of a tune and its ability to connect with audiences is just eerie. I don’t know how he does it. He hears tunes as complete structures or environments – a lot of times he has no idea what the words are, but he just knows how they are consistent with the movement and emotion of the tune. He keeps us from looking stupid simply because he pulls the crowd and the band into the same space, so our gigs come off like good deeds for the community and we come off as musicians having a blast. We complement each other real well, I’m hearing the performance grow note to note while he is hearing the whole thing.
I have to watch him real close during gigs because you never know when the force is going to move him. Another thing that really kills me is my older daughter drills down to every one of his tune selections when I put them on iTunes at home, while mine end up in some sort of quarantine status. He just knows, end of story. Somehow, he keeps us all on the right track.