WHEATUS: Reflections with brendan b. Brown
Most probably known as one of the most influential bands around, Wheatus were delighted to share the news that they would be returning to the UK in November 2018 which saw them play alongside friends A and INME as well as a few of their own headline shows.
What makes Wheatus so special I feel is not only the iconic tracks they are known for, but also the hard work and passion of front man Brendan B. Brown. I find it truly inspirational when you come across a band or an artist who embrace the spirit of music, and for me Wheatus are one of those special few who don’t just embrace but leave those around them hungry for more.
As it has been a good few years since we last spoke to Brendan it was about time we reached out for an overdue catch up.
Lovely to welcome you back Brendan. It has been a couple of years since we last spoke, how has life been treating you?
Brendan: I'm well... working rather intensely on the 2020 20th anniversary re-issue of album 1, but doing well thanks! And you?
Yea am doing ok thanks, just day dreaming of sunshine and warm weather haha!
Fabulous news to hear that you will be returning to the UK for a massive 19 date tour. What are you looking forward to the most?
Brendan: The A & InMe tour is looking very exciting... We're all stoked on that! Generally speaking, I don't need anything special to be happening in order for me to be excited for tour... I'd live on the road if I could.
When you think of your relationship with the music fans here in the UK what makes you smile?
Brendan: I smile when I see someone has a weird favorite...we do all request sets, we don't have set lists, ever when someone shouts out something off the path, I wanna talk to that kid...Find out what their life is like.
Our relationship with music people has always been much like family...we have relationships with fans/friends that are going on 2 decades now...strange to think of, but the goal has always obviously been to connect & relate through music. It's gone deeper than that, into friendships that are last forever...very purposeful & satisfying.
Brendan: Word on the street is that you are working on your 7th full length Album in the Wheatus journey. Although a work in progress, any updates you can share with us about the vibe and vision for the record?
Brendan: It's REEEEAAAALY heavy for us. We're experimenting with double kick arrangements, something I was very into as a kid. We're also exploring sounds we've not fully discovered yet. I'd say about 6 out of 10 songs are done...with the tour pending we've had to pause it but 2019 is the year we'll finish. It's heavy metal jazz pop, progressive only in it's approach to arrangement, accessible as jazz standards from the 1940's, I hope... and heavy as hell, for us.
As part of this tour you will mainly be focusing on the second record Hand Over Your Loved Ones, what was it about that particular record that gave you the fondest memories about the evolution and history of the band we see today?
Brendan: Our bass player, Matthew & I were discussing this recently. That was the last time I shot for straight up, clean edged pop production. It's a rock record, but it's produced like pop. I've not done that before or since. The memories of carving clean, dry shapes for the instruments. Experimenting with hyperfuzz... big, clean drums. Those days are over but it was fun to focus on that for an album. That decision was very much a product of us being on a pop label. I was trying to find a way to maintain our nastiness while giving them exactly what they wanted. HAHA! I failed, they refused to even put it out in our home country. Anyway, we got it back from them and it's kinda cherished by our extended family in a way it could never have been had it been a huge Columbia record. Lemonade, the song I thought should be the single, is our 3rd most popular Spotify song...so it's done it's work in the end. We love playing that record... looking forward to hitting the whole thing.
When Jason Perry dropped you that email about wanting Wheatus to join A on the road with INME, what were you doing at the time? Was it one of those “woah rewind what did he say?” moments?
Brendan: I was like, "Holy shit...isn't this the band that loves Rush as much as we do?!?!?" so we immediately brushed up an 80's Rush tune & we'll be playing it on this one, to honor A, whom I believe were originally named after a Rush song. This full bill including InMe is perfect... we've had a hard time finding bands to be paired with because I think our time in the spotlight was an eclectic time. It was always difficult to set up a bill in 2000-2001. Luckily, Jason has vision in that regard.
Still to this very day many new musicians are choosing tracks such as Teenage Dirtbag to cover as they are at that exciting stage of discovering their direction. How does that make you feel know that a Wheatus track such as that is playing a powerful and special role in their journey?
Brendan: It makes me feel very fortunate. Our lives have been determined by that song in a way. I am happy to have people interpret it themselves & make it their own. It will only remain vital if people can feel it as their own story. It means something to me, certainly, as a 10 year old in 1984, I was finding my musical identity... that's really where it came from, that moment where I began to know who I was & what I liked. Even thought that's where I incepted it from, it's more important moving forward that people can live it for themselves. As long as they're able to do that, it will survive... because of them, and not so much us.
There is no denying Wheatus is all about those live shows. To you therefore what is the true meaning of the spirit of live music and has that meaning changed in your mind over the years?
Brendan: It hasn't really changed for me... I have always wanted to be able to do anything the audience wants, as a band with a catalogue of 7 albums. It's a ridiculous goal but we've been working towards it for almost two decades. Technologically, the goal post keeps moving, but I think by 2020 we're gonna be able to play any of our songs if they are requested. It's about 80 tunes we're talking about being completely up to speed on. It's the kind of thing legacy acts do... we're not like that, but we want to be able to do it. That's the measure of a good live band to me.
For your own set of shows you also have your friend MC Frontalot joining you, that must feel pretty special in itself right?
Brendan: Yes, Front is a dear friend... one of only a handful of people we've shared the road miles with, & it's impossible to build the kind of attachment we share any other way. He's a brilliant inspiration to me as a songwriter & a producer. Helping him mix his records has been exceptionally rewarding over the years. We're all very much looking forward to playing with him again.
To the fans who have supported you over the years, do you feel that this trip to the UK and Ireland is not just about playing great shows, but also celebrating all the things which makes the world of Wheatus special with your extended family?
Brendan: Yes, certainly... as I've said before, our shows are more like family gatherings than music events. I've cherished the closeness & frankly the smallness of these club gatherings where we get to see our friends & play the songs they want to hear. It's magic.
I wish you all the very best for the months ahead, to sum up this chapter in your lives in one short sentence, what would you say?
Brendan: Thank you, wishing you well also... I'd say get ready, cuz the 2020 20th anniversary re-issue of our first album has 20 songs on it.
Official website: http://www.wheatus.com Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/wheatus Patreon page: http://www.patreon.com/wheatus Twitter @wheatus Instagram @wheatusofficial
Article By Thushara