“I really was thinking, somebody is going to call this out as a bad idea, right?” the Ohio native recalls. “‘Freeze! Agent Bobo!’ sounds really silly. Nobody’s going to buy this right? But they kept buying it.”
Bobo advanced pretty far in the process — he was particularly adept at the fit test — but ultimately pulled out after he and his then-wife split up. “It’s very weird to live here and to have not chosen that path because most people, once they get that far, they choose it,” he says.
Instead, he chose to follow his dreams: Making music as the Slang, the name he’s used for his recording efforts since 2014. Just before the pandemic Bobo, 43, started playing with bassist/producer Felix Nieto, who owns his own studio in Laurel, and the two clicked. When the pandemic hit, the duo agreed to essentially isolate together, working tirelessly in Nieto’s studio.
“It was kind of a once-in-a-lifetime experience because usually you’re trying to play shows, and you’re trying to do all these other things,” Bobo says. “But this was so focused that it went really, really well.”
The sessions resulted in “Divide,” the Slang’s debut album, a mix of glossy pop rock songs that’s out Sept. 24. Ahead of the album’s release, Bobo shared his perfect day in the region, full of music and at least one activity that puts his brief FBI training to the test.
I definitely have to eat first. There used to be a great place called Maxime in Georgetown on M Street. It was a French bistro that had really good brunch. I drove in for that. I miss it. I’d get the croque madame. The cheese is great. You get a salty flavor from the over easy egg and it’s a lot of contradicting flavors. It’s a really fancy ham and cheese with some Dijon mustard and Gruyere cheese.
Next thing I want to do is go to a music store: Island Music Company in La Plata. I love music stores where you walk in and there’s so much stuff stacked from floor to ceiling that you have to walk through it five times to really see things. I like that it’s independently owned. It’s not a chain. It’s one of those places you walk in thinking you want one thing, and you walk out with something totally different. That, to me, is always the fun part of the creative process. I am looking for a Fender Precision Bass guitar. It just records really well and people know how to mix around it.
I like escape rooms, and [there are] a lot of good ones around here. Escape Room Live in Georgetown is great. I’ve been there before. My success rate, just to be candid, is maybe 25 percent. I’m not particularly great at them. But what I really like about them is the fact that there’s no cellphone, no TV, no laptop — for an hour. It’s basically like a time machine at this point because it’s about the only thing you can do where you can really focus. And of course, that hour just flies by. I think it’s a good date idea, too, because you can see how somebody is: whether they’re a team player, how they handle stress, how stubborn they are. Sometimes, Felix and I like to go in and do one as a team-building band exercise.
I’ve got to go see some live music. I was thinking midday live music. I’ve seen some great shows at Constitution Hall. I like that venue quite a bit. The last time I was there I saw Sturgill Simpson and Valerie June. I had not heard of her and she was fantastic. A buddy of mine has a kid who was in a choir and he did a college choir performance there that was really good. I’d want to see a band that has a good two-hour show. It’s not the cool band that people should pick, but I’d like to see the Eagles there with Joe Walsh playing “Hotel California.” I grew up hating the Eagles because I grew up in the ’90s. I grew to love it and appreciate the songwriting and the harmonies.
For dinner I really like Landini Brothers in Old Town, right on the main strip. It’s a great, old Italian restaurant. My parents used to own an Italian restaurant. I literally grew up in one. Landini is a legitimate place: great atmosphere and recipes. I like the spinach stuffed ravioli. The pastas are fantastic and they have an asparagus soup, which is not something I’d normally be like, “oh, wow, that’s great.” But yeah, I do love the asparagus soup. It’s almost like green pea soup.
It’s kind of cliche, but I think I’m gonna have to do something historical. I like to go to cemeteries, because there’s a lot of history there. You look at the headstones — there’s so much history wrapped up in it. My favorite one that I go to around here is the Glenwood Cemetery in Northeast. Sometimes there’s people working and they’re more than happy to talk to you and go through some of the history of it. Sometimes [there are] famous people there.
Next, I’m basically just reliving one of my favorite shows ever, which was at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore. It’s so beautiful but that name doesn’t seem to evoke that. I saw the band Ghost. I’m not a metal guy, but Ghost is a Swedish pop metal band. There’s a lot of KISS and Alice Cooper vibes. Singer [Tobias Forge] is just fantastic. He’s a really great songwriter and a hard-working musician. His shows are just amazing. It’s one of those ones where like, I don’t care if you like metal, I don’t care if you like jazz, like, you got to go see this show. As an artist, I’m really jealous of just how much of an image he’s put together. And oh, by the way, you can’t see his face. It was a lot to take in, and I’d like to see it again.