Wheatus was formed by Brendan B. Brown (aka BBB) in 1995. Wheatus’ first and largest hit was “Teenage Dirtbag,” which charted at #2 in the UK. Their second single “A Little Respect” (an Erasure cover) also reached high chart positions, getting to #3 on the UK Charts. After the release of their 2nd album (for more information see the wikipedia article here), Wheatus dropped their label and went the indie route. And at present, since a week and a half their first success, Teenage Dirtbag, has come back in the UK charts… without a manager or even a label… by the sole power of the social medias such as Facebook and twitter…
This is enormous for the independent music community, and I want to thank BBB to let me interview him… it is an honor.
1/ Could you please introduce yourself and the band?
brendan b brown singer songwriter manager producer guitarist engineer body guard
Matthew T Milligan bass & web admin
Kevin J Garcia drums
Gerard C Hoffmann Keys & additional engineering
Liz Brown Backing Vox
Johanna Crannitch Backing Vox
Danielle Elliott Backing Vocals
2/ How do you explain that people in the UK and Ireland seem to be so attached to your music, maybe even more than in the USA?
Well the correct answer is that I don’t know. I think it had a lot to do with the culture of the UK-Irish charts. We don’t have National Radio here…not for pop music, not the way you guys have it. I think that in The UK-Ireland, once the people get behind an artist, it can become a national event. The USA is far more regional when it comes to success. In related news, my Irish-English father recently pointed out that Teenage Dirtbag has multi-generational appeal because everyone goes through the alienated experience in high school…But I would faile if this were a maths question….so I think I’ll just take a stab in the dark for s simple answer…better taste in music?
3/ You have been through major ups and downs in the past 10 years, I myself lost track of the band until AD Lane from IndyWood Films announced that the music of his soon to come Zombie Movie was from Wheatus. From independent artist to another… How important do you think this collaboration has been for the band?
Before AD started making the film I had never had our story accurately described or depicted back to me. I spend many years in a vacuum, wondering what impact, if any, wheatus had on people. In darker, lonelier moments, I didn’t think much of it to be honest. Being compelled to continue with no alternatives under those conditions can feel a bit like a suicide mission. AD’s document has begun to serve as an indicator that is has not all been for nothing.
4/Your first success, Teenage Dirtbag, has come back in the UK charts… without a manager or even a label… by the sole power of the social medias such as Facebook and twitter: Did it come as a total surprise?
5/ All your albums (except the first self-titled who was recorded while with SONY) are available at your website, on a pay what you want basis… how did you get the idea?
I 1st proposed that idea in 2002 when I delivered our 2nd record to SONY. I had worked in the computer industry as a service manager at a virtual private networking company. I knew, as did anyone else in the computer industry, as early as 1998 that music would be impossible to monetize via traditional means in the near future. I told them we should make a limited run of 1 million CD’s to give away. They would be the only ones ever officially pressed…after that SONY, I offered, could share in live revenue & merchandise with us…they thought I was nuts and it contributed to the tension we were starting to feel…now a’ days that is the only kind of deal they can afford.
6/ You are soon to start a brief tour of America in May, back in the UK in October, things seem to get brighter, but how can people support your actions?
There is no tour of The USA planned just yet…but if you want to see us in The UK we’ll be touring in the fall with tix available here:
To support the cause you can donate for and download albums 2, 3, 4 & 5 at http://wheatus.com all are pick your own price
7/All together, how would you describe the fact that you are now doing it on your own? The day you left your record label in 2003, was it an omen or a blessing in your view?
A blessing to be sure. We dodged a TREMENDOUS bullet there. We left literally weeks before the shit hit the fan…Specifically, the SONY/BMG merger, which, as we now know, was a complete disaster though which we’d certainly have had our career destroyed. Shortly after the dust of that debacle settled we saw the industry begin to turn itself upside down…It was a great time to sit back and experiment with new models without getting oneself into any Imperial Entanglements.
8/ How do you see the band heading in the next few years?
Pop, Songs & Death Vol. 3 is on deck…we’ll release the new version of album 1 and support AD’s efforts to complete the film….and keep touring!
9/ If you had to describe yourself in 1 word?