By Todd Houston
Exclusive to TRRT
If you go to the PineWood Box Facebook page and click on “about” it reads: “1985-1996 – We played bars and clubs in Rockford, IL and the surrounding area, emphasizing original music and unusual stage shows. We gained much media attention and many loyal fans.” Unusual? What’s unusual is that after disbanding more than 20 years ago people are still talking about them. Was it the stage show with the dresses and dolls? The creepy hearse that the keyboard player trolled around town in? Perhaps the freak show “cultish” following you would see at their shows and after bar parties. I would have to say all of the above. Pinewood Box never scored a record deal as far as I know of, and the members probably never intended to be the best of the best at their respected instruments of choice, but what they did have was plenty of Glamour and loads of Allure. If you were hanging out at Endless Night, The Pier in Beloit or The Old Rock River Cafe, you somehow knew when a member of PWB walked in.
For this weeks column we tracked down former PWB bass player Bob Schober to ask him about his time in the band.
Rockford Rocked Interview: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a member of the Rockford area band Pinewood Box.
Bob Schober: I came to Rockford in 1983 for a job after college. I had been going home on weekends and playing guitar in a band called the DOTS with my brother Jan (RIP) and friends up in the Milwaukee area. In the summer of 1986 I saw a flyer by the checkout counter at Appletree Records in Edgebrook saying there was a “Drunk Musicians Beach Party” on Lapey St. That was where Paul Kissick (RIP) and Nick Thomas (RIP) were renting a house. It was a fun party with a kiddie pool in the backyard (laughs). I got to meet everyone and then started attending their shows. Eventually I replaced Nick on the bass.
RRI: I was told that PWB was “Scary” Dan Gildea’s (keyboards) baby. Thoughts?
Schober: Gosh, I don’t recall who actually created the band, as I came in as a second generation player.
RRI: Do you guys still keep in touch?
Schober: Oh yes! I saw Dan Gildea on Halloween. He usually hosts a party every year with the help of some of the group of people we hung out with back in the day. I also just saw Randy Rainwater, our drummer, Saturday night. He has continued to carry the musical torch, playing in many Rockford bands over the years. Dan also has a breakfast club every Sunday in remembrance of Paul, who liked to go out on Sundays for breakfast at noon.
RRI: You had sort of a eclectic fan base and following around town. Besides the music, what else was it about the band that you think people were drawn to?
Schober: Oh I’m pretty sure it was our ruggedly handsome good looks (laughs). I think we were trying to be different with a sort of Goth look, that went along with the name. Everyone loves to dress up for Halloween right? Plus, having a hearse to haul our equipment around in was pretty cool, eh?
RRI: According to the PWB page there have been at least 20 band members that came and went throughout the years. Why so many?
Schober: I really don’t know. I’m sure the reason for each departure is different. All I know is that it was a highlight of my life and I’m sorry I ever quit.
RRI: Guitarist Paul Kissick was known for wearing a white wedding dress onstage at times. Was there any real dress code for PWB or did you guys pretty do as you wished?
Schober: We dressed as we liked. The look evolved for everyone individually. I do recall a Halloween show we did in 1987 at Mulberry Bush where Paul had just gotten the dress.
RRI: Did you ever get a chance to cruise around town with “Scary” in the Hearse?
Schober: Oh yes, we used it for hauling equipment around to our shows. Once we took it to Greenwood Cemetery at Main and Auburn to do a photo shoot. We got some great pictures from that one!
RRI: Tell us about your most memorable and/or weirdest gig.
Schober: The most memorable for me and highlight of my musical career was playing at On the Waterfront in 1987. We were the headline act on the Best of Rockford Stage Saturday night. Cheap Trick was playing the main stage, so I guess they weren’t the best of Rockford (laughs). We had about 1,000 people at our stage. Luckily we got about half of it recorded on video. It’s fun to get it out for friends that have no idea I was in a band and watch it. I need to get that digitized and put up on YouTube. As for the weirdest gig, hell, they were all weird.
RRI: What would be the odds of some kind of a reunion show happening in the near future?
Schober: I think the odds would be pretty low. Paul and Scary Dan were the glue that kept the band together over the years. I’m sure they wrote most of the songs. Paul was a very clever lyricist and song writer, as well as artist. I still have my bass and the guitar that Paul used, as well as my amps, so, who knows? I’m game.
RRI: Anything you would like to add in closing?
Schober: I would like to thank all the friends that helped us over the years, both those who are still with us and those who are not. We had many people help us with makeup, hair, hauling and setting up equipment, photography, recordings, etc., and also attending our shows. I miss Paul greatly and many of the other Pinewood Box friends who have passed on before their time. Last week I lost my brother Jan, a drummer in several bands in the Milwaukee area. So this is an especially emotional time for me, as I got my musical start with him.