On Friday I got the absolute pleasure of catching up with Brendan B. Brown; The talented gentleman behind Wheatus while he took a break during soundcheck at their Bathgate stop on the five week UK tour, Bathgate was their third last tour date, so I thought it was time to see how this tour has been so far.
What really makes Wheatus stand out as one of the most inspiring bands that our generation have ever seen is probably the guys themselves; They’re not just a band, they’re a family. And when I say that I don’t just mean the guys from ‘Wheatus’ I mean everyone on tour with them; From the support acts Math The Band, MC Frontalot and City Stereo, to the merch girls Rosie and Joey, to the tour videographer Antony Lane and of course the gentleman behind the scenes who makes sure the magic happens smoothly; Mark. Just being in the same room as these guys while they set up and sound checked you could tell how close they were. It was a lovely environment to watch music be created in.
So everyone knows who Wheatus are, and what they do. But this time it’s different, this time it’s real. These guys are making their dreams come true all by themselves, and I couldn’t be more proud of them for it. But what’s the driving force behind them continuing to do so? Well, read on to find out.
Hey Brendan! Let’s get straight into it, shall we? How has this tour been so far?
Tour so far has been excellent! Lots of sell outs. The Russian sho- Russia? I’m looking at this Ramones’ Rocket To Russia poster. (laughs) Uhm, the Scottish shows have sold out, so it’s been really good. Really good.
Has this year’s UK tour been any different from last year’s?
Yeah, quite different. I’m finding that the independent venues seem to be drawing more people. It’s interesting, the shift in the way things are happening.
Which city has been your favourite to play so far?
Oh boy, it’s a tie between Dundee and Cardiff.
Any particular reason why those cities?
Cardiff was great people, great venue, great show. Dundee was also the same; Great people, great show, great venue. Just, I can’t tell the difference, so it’s hard to distinguish them, y’know.
What I love about Wheatus shows, is the way that the set-list is compiled right there and then. What helped you make the decision to conduct your shows that way?
We got bored with set lists, they just, they kinda, I don’t know. They make the set feel very predictable to us and very boring, not enough to get through a whole tour.
What songs seem to be getting a lot of love this tour?
Lemonade’s getting a lot of love.The Story Of The Eggs is getting a lot of love. What else? Uhm, we have a cover, we have a new cover in this set that’s getting a lot of love. London Sun has been getting a lot of love and Freedom song. Those ones are getting a lot of love.
Everyone knows Teenage Dirtbag and A Little Respect, but are you surprised when people call out the songs that haven’t had as much promotion?
Yeah, well it’s the internet. You know. It’s nice to know that that’s there and people who care can pay attention that way. It’s good.
Teenage Dirtbag was back in the UK charts this year after ten years. How did that feel having two successes with the same song in one decade?
(laughs) It kinda blew me away. It was totally unexpected and when it happened we were just kinda like “Uh-oh, what does this mean? Think this means we’re going to have to go on tour.” (laughs) I just, I wasn’t very in touch with how much people loved that song and it just kinda reminded me.
Does it still give you the same feeling, when you play it live and everyone in the crowd still knows every lyric to Teenage Dirtbag after ten years?
Yeah, it never gets old. It’s always going to be amazing!
Being independent must be tough, especially when you’re on the road. How has it been treating you?
Yeah, it’s, I don’t know, it feels good to load my own gear and manage my own tour. It doesn’t feel bad, it’s a lot of work but it’s, you know it’s getting done. You know what you’re dealing with, you know there are no surprises, well minimal surprises. So yeah, (yawns). Sorry, it’s good. You get a little tired as you can see. (laughs)
The sound guy tonight seemed really shocked that you already had everything sorted out and you knew exactly what you needed. Do you get that a lot?
Yeah, well I don’t think people assume that I’m a sound guy and when they find out that that’s what I’m doing then they can be a little surprised, yeah.
Do you still find it difficult after being on a label to going independent?
Uhm, no. I think it’s easier. Yeah, it’s quite a bit easier, you don’t have to deal with the bullshit.
Do you find it more rewarding doing it all yourself?
Absolutely, yeah. I would say so.
You seem to have a really close bond with a lot of your fans. What do your fans mean to you?
Well they’re the people who keep the dream alive. (laughs) Y’know? That’s it in a nut shell. They’re the most important people in our lives, and they’re the reason we keep coming back, and they’re the reason we’re able to do this at all in the first place. So, they mean everything to us, yeah.
Was it a hard decision to carry on after Sony?
No, no! It was always going to happen. It wasn’t our decision to make at all.
Would you ever go back to a major label, or do you think that this is Wheatus now?
No, no, I would never, never do a major label again. No. These days you kinda wonder why would you ever do any kind of label.
Not a lot of people know that your music is available on a pay-what-you-like basis from Wheatus.com, do you care to explain to those that aren’t aware?
Yeah, Wheatus.com, you can get 44 new songs for any price. Any price, from zero, for free to anything. You can give us 5 cents or you can give us 50 dollars. It doesn’t matter, it’s whatever you think the music is worth and you can donate to keep the cause alive, y’know, for us to keep going.
What made you decide to make your music available that way?
I think that the real reason I did that was because I knew it was free anyway, y’know? Yeah, I did it because the music was free anyway, and I just wanted people to hear it and see what they thought.
What advice would you have for anyone out there thinking about distributing their music that way?
Go slow, and make your music as well as you can. Don’t release it until it’s ready and don’t sign any bad deals. And I would say definitely try to give people the chance to hear it.
What would you say has been the toughest record you’ve made so far?
Oh, it’s definitely the Jupiter EP. The Jupiter EP was really sad, difficult record to make. Yeah, it’s done now, but it was tough. It was tough.
What’s been the main life lessons that have inspired the writing side of Wheatus?
Wow, that’s a tough question. That’s a hard one to answer. I think uhm, trying not to be your own worst enemy even though that’s what your destiny is. (laughs)
Have you ever had a ‘crazy’ fan experience?
Not really, no.
And the nicest thing a fan has ever said or done for you?
I think probably “We got married because of your song.” (laughs)
Is the Wheatus, You Might Die documentary still in the works? Is that going to be footage from both UK tours?
Yes, it is! Indeed it will be.
Have you been ill this tour? You seem to have a history of getting ill when you come to this side of the pond.
Yeah, I had Bronchitis. That was terrible.
And before we finish up, what does the second ‘B’ mean in your name?
Oh, I’m not telling! (laughs).. Bathgate. (more laughter)
Okay I think that’s about it! Thank you so much, Brendan.
Is that all? Okay, well thank you very much. It was good to see you again!
It was great seeing you again too, thank you again!
I have to say, interviewing Brendan B. Brown was so different to any other interview I’ve done. When you’re with Wheatus, you’re not just someone who’s there to do an interview. They make you feel completely at ease and more like a friend. You’ve not been to a concert, until you’ve seen Wheatus live, try it some time and I can guarantee that they will blow you away.
Like Brendan B. Brown says, you can pick up 44 new songs over at Wheatus.com on a pay-what-you-like basis, you’ll also find merch on the site too that you can purchase direct from the band. You can also follow the band over on Twitter @wheatus, and ‘like’ them on Facebook here.
We at Previous we would like to wish all bands mentioned here the best of luck; They’re all extremely talented and we cannot wait to catch up with them again soon.
Why not tell us what you think about Brendan B. Brown’s thoughts on the best way to create music and bring it to the fans in the comments below?