Interview: Robert Bowers of Herbal Affair
Once upon a short time ago, in a dorm room in a land not too far away, I had a rather quiet, rather malcontent roommate named Robert Bowers. Rob, although most famous for sleeping through class and his uncanny, almost inhumanly superior ability in “Mario Kart,” was also a master axe-man, wielding the nastiest guitar-playing skill on the first floor of the Commons dormitory. And, unbeknownst to most, he spent a lot of time writing the music and lyrics to the songs that would someday propel his music career.
Now, several years later, Rob has long since transferred to Stonehill College from the perilous land of southern Connecticut, and plays happily in the acoustic rock duo Herbal Affair. Rapidly gaining popularity in southeastern Massachusetts, Herbal Affair have recently released their independently-recorded debut album, How’s Your Face? and Rob was kind enough to take time out from his hectic celebrity lifestyle to speak with me about the record, his plans, and ice cream sundaes.
First of all Rob, tell me about your band. Who’s in it? When did you form? What kind of music do you play? Do you promote the use of tea?
We, in every way, promote the use of tea. The affair that you know as “Herbal Affair” is me and my good friend BJ Knights. We met at Stonehill College back during the winter of 1999. Me and some other guys were going to play at a local café in our hometown and we wanted another guitarist. I knew BJ from high school and he was also attending Stonehill at the time. So I caught up to him one afternoon and asked him if he wanted to play with us. We practiced just a few times but the show went awesome, and he and I have stuck together since then and just kept jamming. It’s just the two of us doing the acoustic thing right now, playing at a local bar every weekend, getting exposure, but things are looking great.
How did you guys get the name Herbal Affair?
Herbal Affair means exactly what you don’t think it does. We made up the name while waiting in line at that same café we played at before. We went back there a few months later as a two-piece to sign-up and play some shows, but we didn’t have a name, so we had about five minutes to think of something. I came up with “affair,” for no reason other than I thought it was cool. BJ was standing next to a vending machine that had a bunch of those herbal iced-teas in it, that stuff with the ginseng and what not. So BJ thought we could have an “Herbal Affair,” and I said why not.
What have been your best experiences in this band so far?
For me, the most rewarding thing thus far has been making the CD. We put a lot of effort into it. It was difficult at some points getting the stuff right; I got really pissed a couple of times because I suck real bad, but I would do it again in a second and I can’t wait to make another one when we get some more material.
Tell me a little more about this CD you recently recorded.
The CD is called How’s Your Face? Don’t ask, we’re weird like that. We did it all out of my house using just a four-track and our imagination. During our live shows we just play acoustics, but on the CD we messed around with electrics and some effects, even threw in some piano on a tune. It’s got a mix of originals and a few cover tunes: Neil Young, STP, even A-ha for that ’80s mood in all of us, and some live material we recorded on Stonehill College Radio 91.3 WSHL.
What are your hopes and aspirations for Herbal Affair? Do you and BJ have any long-term goals?
Well, obviously, we’re going to rule the world. But before that, we just wanna get our name out there. We want to expand and get the whole deal; the drummer, the bassist, go electric, and just rock. The acoustic thing is good, but you get so many more modes of expression when you bring in all those different instruments. I think our sound is different from what you usually hear on the radio these days, so hopefully we’ll find our niche somewhere, find a core group of fans, and just have a good time. If you’re not having fun, then just slam your guitar down and walk away. Yeah, it’s hard work, but you gotta have fun with it.
Say you are stuck on a lonely, delicious, dessert island. Not another human being — or any entrees — in sight. What do you plan to eat the most of? And what five albums would you bring with you?
I like that idea. I gotta go with the fudge brownie sundae. Those things are superb. But, I gotta save room for the High and Mighty Ice Cream Pie that you get at Chili’s. It is quite a feat to tackle that sucker, but it’s damn good. As far as music, well, I guess I got stuck in the early ’90s, so I’d take Siamese Dream, Core, some sort of Jimi Hendrix CD — I do like Make Yourself a great deal — and, of course, gotta have How’s Your Face?
Who’s the coolest roommate you’ve ever had?
I think it’s clear that it wasn’t Jackson Ellis. Was I mean, was.
Give the people some contact information.
Just go to www.herbalaffair.iwarp.com for all the info you need. It’s got our emails and CD information and some really dumb pictures of us.
Thanks for your time Rob; good luck to you and BJ.
Hey, no problem, keep the press going, and if you ever wanna chat again just let me know.