Up Close and Personal with the Real Bobby Liebling.
There was a question on my mind that I was determined to get answered as I prepared for my interview and approached the Pentagram tour bus recently to interview one of Heavy Music’s ideal fathering figures Bobby Liebling. Who is the real Bobby Liebling? Is he happy? For those of you familiar with Pentagram you are all well aware of the controversies surrounding Bobby Liebling’s troublesome career, the struggles with the revolving band members, the decades of alcohol and drug abuse. There seems to be a fascination of sorts with all the negative characteristics that surround this iconic Heavy Music figure known as Bobby Liebling. I on the other hand wanted to focus and what is never printed or exposed to the masses about this man and his incredible band known as Pentagram. A band that Mr. Liebling has fronted since 1971. A band that has inspired countless musicians to form their own bands in the mere image of Mr. LIebling and Pentagram. A band that is world renowned and is credited for creating a genre that is now known as “Doom “or “Stoner Rock.” A band that plain and simple started it all but seldom gets the credit or financial rewards that it rightfully deservers. So I apologize sincerely my dear readers for not providing you with the usual history lesson that I tend to bless upon you. But to put it simply, if you are not familiar with Bobby Liebling and Pentagram? Well then I strongly encourage you to go to your nearest record store and stock up on decades worth of material that is available for you to purchase and let us say “catch up.”
Upon entering the tour bus I could not keep my mind focused. Would I encounter a bitter and frustrated man who at the age of 56 is finally getting his recognition for his contribution to the Heavy Music realm. A band that until recently seemed stable enough to engulf on USA tour until the sudden and shocking departure of guitarist Russ Strahans which almost crippled and hindered the USA tour dead on its tracks, if it were not for the determination of Bobby Liebling to seek a replacement and continue on. The hero turned out to be Johnny Wretched of “Wretched” an amazing doom band on their own right. So as I sat down with Mr. Liebling before his performance in Los Angeles I hoped for the best and prepared for the worst! This is what transpired after with the Legendary Bobby Liebling of Pentagram.
Bulldozer: Thank you Mr. Liebling for taking the time to converse with us. I feel very privileged to be speaking to you so let me start off by asking you, How do you feel being a survivor? So many people have written you off in the past but yet you always seem to overcome whatever is sabotaging the Pentagram project at the time. How do you feel finally after all these decades getting the recognition you truly deserve?
Bobby Liebling: Yes, it has been to long! (Laughter) I am too old to do this shit now! And now it is like everybody wants to see Pentagram I am weary. It has been a long winding road, I meet a lot of people, and saw a lot of places.
Bulldozer: I do not want to sound repetitive but my god man! You are indeed a survivor?
Bobby Liebling: I know one of my dearest friends Dickie Peterson of Blue Cheer just died recently, It really hurt me severely! Somebody upstairs wants me around to make people happy and that is enough for me right now. I am trying to really live a simple life, I and my wife ( Hallie ) are having a baby, I just got married, I am straight nowadays, clean and sober. After 40 years of being a heroin addict and all of those kinds of things I am finally seeing the light. It is like coming out from a lot of cobwebs man. Not being a burn out! Not being a wet brain, Not being thrashed is amazing to me. It is a godsend to me.
Bulldozer: Pentagrams longevity is indeed remarkable! Do you feel comfortable now after all these decades finally being recognized as Heavy Music Icon? Do you think this will bring some stability to Pentagram? Since finally you have some stability in your own personal life now.
Bobby Liebling: Yeah I guess, this is like a dreamscape for me, I was in the cobwebs for 40 years. This will Pentagrams 40th anniversary in December. Most of it has been under clouds, dark clouds, shrouds and enigmas, and the whole dodging the public thing. I have been living in the under belly of life really, it warms my heart in dressing rooms every night. I cry real tears on stage when I come off stage now a days, you know being so fucked up for so long and then coming out from it, it is like all your emotions start to surface, meeting real people who really appreciate you just for what you are. It is really kind of an honor. I am trying to do the family thing now at my late age! My wife Hallie is in her twenties. This woman knows me better than anybody has ever known me in my whole life.
Bulldozer: That is indeed incredible, in a sense this is a new chapter for you on the ongoing story of Bobby Liebling correct?
Bobby Liebling: Yes it is! It is a whole new chapter!
Bulldozer: Let us talk about the tour, how is the tour going? What happened that lead to the unexpected departure of Russ Strahan?
Bobby Liebling: The tour is going good! I am under more strain than I have ever been on tour in my career. I lost my guitar player ( Russ Strahan) He just bailed out without warning four hours before we started the tour.
Bulldozer: That is a horrible position to be in.
Bobby Liebling: We have almost no material; my guitar player is the bass player, (Johnny Wretched) I told him I should just play guitar. I should do all work because I do not want him to feel uncertain of himself but he is doing a hell of a job filling in the spots, but I have been playing guitar for 48 years. I played guitar for 48 years I wrote the songs, I am not going to fuck them up. I will just hit the switch and hit it and then turn it off. People want to see me jump around and be Iggy and all this kind of stuff. He was one of my mentors early on in my career.
Bulldozer: Really? That is a good mentor to have!
Bobby Liebling: Oh Yeah! Iggy and I used to do a lot of shenanigans together. He is my buddy, he is a nut! “Some times you feel like a nut? Sometimes you don’t” ( Laughter)
Bulldozer: Your story is indeed astonishing with all the adversity that you have overcome, it is indeed inspirational.
Bobby Liebling: Yes it is! I like to tell young people about stuff like that man. I was so fucked up man it was pathetic! It was just sad!
Bulldozer: I do not know how you are going to take this comment Mr. Liebling. You are literally a walking contradiction, you are responsible for creating some incredible timeless music yet you lived a life of complete destruction that nearly destroyed Pentagram and your life. To overcome this is indeed inspirational, just look at your self, your back on tour, your back stronger than ever! Your about to become a father and a family man and of course for thousands of loyal fans you are in a healthy and stable place to continue what we as fans love which is Pentagram! You are indeed a Survivor!
Bobby Liebling: Please call me Bobby, my father is Mr. Liebling!
Bulldozer: Thank you Bobby, I really appreciate that! It is just out of respect sir. Your story is motivating where it shows that you can go to through hell and pull yourself out of it! Not to mention you are now currently riding a wave of revival that thousands of kids are discovering Pentagram for the first time!
Bobby Liebling: Yeah that is strange, I am retro but I am not retro, I am the dinosaur that survived the ice age! I feel closer with my spiritual higher power, let’s put it that way! I do not go to programs and rehabs and all that. I have been through all of those, none of those worked for me. I just finally fell in love! I fell in love with Hallie and that is why I stopped doing drugs because I love my wife! I never loved anything on the face of the planet like I love my wife. God bless her for being there, I feel like she is an angel sent down from heaven to take care of me!
Bulldozer: Is that what has given you the strength to persevere?
Bobby Liebling: It really is! To be honest, I call her “Mini me girl.” She is in a lot of ways so much like I was. In so many ways she is different too, she learns wisdom from me and I learn youth from her. She keeps me spiritually very young! This has nothing to do with the rock n roll cliché The older rock star with the younger girl, or the rock n roller with the gorgeous young wife and Blah Blah Blah. This relationship is not what that is about!
Bulldozer: You connected on a real level?
Bobby Liebling: Yes! She is my soul mate! She is my best friend that I never had in my whole life. I never wanted to have children or anything like that and look at me now! We are expecting our first child!I am very excited!
Bulldozer: It is like that old saying “Everything happens for a reason”.
Bobby Liebling: It does! It is a gift from God man. It made my whole life turn around and I feel that I am getting reincardinated with two lives.
Bulldozer: Do you ever thing back at your past and have any regrets? Are you bothered with your life decisions and the roads you have walked dealing with your inner demons?
Bobby Liebling: I regret my narcotic abuse. Another dear friend of mine Johnny Thunders (Legendary New York Dolls) died twenty years ago and I think back, twenty years have gone bye, Jesus Christ! Twenty fucking years is a long time and here I am? All my friends are dead! I am just not ready to go yet!
Bulldozer: Well your story truly would truly make a great film! Speaking of which talk to us about “ Last Rites” The Bobby Liebling story that is in post production. How do you feel about a movie being based on your life?
Bobby Liebling: I hope it goes to Hollywood man; it would be nice to get a steady paycheck for once. It is getting tough out there, it is a different world and the recession is so bad. I was thinking that I would have to cancel this tour? I look for a lot of spiritual salvation, my dear old buddy Victor Griffin who has been with me for 15 years, he plays guitar for “ Place of Skulls” now, he is younger than I am, he is a mentor for me in that way. He saw the light of things, he and I used to screw around with a lot of Dark stuff and he made me see how it wasn’t the right thing to do.
Bulldozer: Not the right path?
Bobby Liebling: Yeah and I am hard headed I didn’t not learn for 50 years! (Laughter)
Bulldozer: Well sometimes you have to walk that path, you have to live it!
Bobby Liebling: Boy did I Live it! I am obviously here for a reason. God has me here for a reason. I make young people happy! That gives me a real fulfillment deep down inside.
Bulldozer: You must really enjoy being embraced by this whole new generation of Pentagram fans? Does it give you joy and satisfaction to be relevant still in this era? I waited 20 years to see you! Does it just blow your mind?
Bobby Liebling: Yes definitely! It does, plus I see people who are old dear friends of mine coming back now with the success we are starting to enjoy, bringing their children with them. “I turned my son on to you and now he is into Pentagram” and my reaction is “Oh God man!” I am going on a full two generations, four decades of people. My audience are 16 to 65 years of age, if you saw us play you are well aware. Sometimes I ask myself “Who are those old guys over there?” until my wife ( Hallie) reminds me that those are my fans! ( Laughter)
Bulldozer: Unfortunately I am now one of those old guys in your audience .( Laughter) Talk to us about a possible new album? Will you be recording any new material and releasing it in the near future?
Bobby Liebling: We will be recording in September and October. Hallie will be having our baby in August so I will be taking a break in July. We have been on the road a lot in the last year. An awful a lot, I have spent very little time at home. With the European tour last October with “Trouble” we did ten countries all through Europe. It was strange people waited so long to see us, that’s part of the fun of it ,because of the enigma factor of not ever having been seen. It is like I am still a novelty I guess to some people. Which goes to show I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks! (Laughter) I have inspired so many musicians but it is so out there for me, like I think of myself in a third person that is weird. I do not feel like that, I feel like I belong in a crack in the basement, laying around in the dregs of the underworld you know? Kind of scuming around and all of a sudden this young lady gets in touch with me one day and its like “Wake up! Time to wake up” She hit the spot! I have never been married legally. I do not have any children that I know of? So this is more rewarding for me now because I have the wisdom now of age, so I can enjoy it really with fulfillment. I have lived through hell. A life time of fucken pain that I have gone through. I have pumped a lot of pain into me. There is a light if you find it, if you are fortunate enough to find it before you burn out.
Bulldozer: Do you feel that you have an anchor now?
Bobby Liebling: Yes, There is a good woman behind every man! Like the old saying goes. I know it sounds cliché but it really applies to me. This woman loves me with all my scars and baggage. She means everything to me! I would not be here if it was not for her and God!
Bulldozer: Are you ready to conquer the world now? Are you ready to take your crown?
Bobby Liebling: Yes I am, it is already on my head. I guess I am ready to accept that fact if it’s being given to me. I want to be in The Rock N Roll Hall of Fame so bad! I have wanted to be in there since they brought it out. That is like the final goal; I want to raise my child with my wife and live a real normal life with the white picket fence stuff now. I know that sounds really strange hearing this from me, a person who has broken all the commandments, lived in every sin that there is and now I am out for the good stuff.
Bulldozer: Are you planning on being here and receiving your well deserved rewards?
Bobby Liebling: I plan on being here for another 20 to 25 more years! I want to be here for my child and my wife! There is nothing that can surprise me man! Except meeting her and coming out of this tunnel which has been the most spiritual awakening things that has given me fulfillment. I know I am going to heaven man. I am dying with full tranquility and serenity now finally. I know it sounds corny maybe because I am in Pentagram. It is just a name man. I do not like this stuff anymore; it gives me a scary feeling man! I am being real! This is just the name of my band! Because it is a great band name, it’s got the “UUMP!” Spooky! It is one word! The Font is cool! It is still relevant, it is important stuff especially when you look the new wave of Black Heavy Metal or British Heavy Metal, I cannot even read what the fuck most of these logos say.
Bulldozer: You too! (Laughter)
Bobby Liebling: It is like a cross word puzzle that is missing the letters from the alphabet, you see all these symbols, I am sorry if I am letting the old Pentagram fans down who want to be evil, but evil is not right. I had to learn the hard way by hitting my head on a fucken wall for 40 God damn years. I am finally happy and I wish to remain this way.
Bulldozer: Are you truly happy now?
Bobby Liebling: Yes I am!
Bulldozer: Bobby Liebling has indeed struggled and has survived what others unfortunately have not. There is a new chapter being written as you read this. One where Pentagram and Bobby Liebling have finally found happiness. There is a movie soon to be released where it chronicles the trials and tribulations of his tremendous road to happiness. The new album is indeed a soundtrack of survival and rejuvenation. The Dinosaur has indeed survived the ice age. Long Live Bobby Liebling!