By paul

Brendan B. Brown is a sick man. Having caught a nasty case of pneumonia early into the Get Happy Tour a few weeks ago, he’s been in and out of hospital, popping anti-biotics daily, and trying his hardest to stay healthy enough to prevent him from missing any more shows. Despite his ill health, he’s more than happy to grab a quick word backstage in the band’s impossibly small dressing room and tell Punktastic about the last few years of his life. This young man from Long Island will be the first to admit it hasn’t been an easy ride.

As we sit down for our chat, he’s most preoccupied with the fact that about ten or so kids have managed to bypass security and get in the backstage area. “I don’t know how that happens man. The real problem is that you’ve got a real limited number of supplies. When you’re on tour day to day, you don’t have time to buy new toothpaste, or a new toothbrush. Forget about whether someone takes your driving license or your passport. Sometimes you’ve got to push people away from the things you have. I don’t think it’s being an asshole, you’re just doing what anyone else would do if someone invaded your home. 99.9% of these kids are cool, and just want to meet the bands, but things can get stolen, so you’ve got to be wary”.

Pneumonia, prescription drugs and paranoia aside, you’ve got to wonder what Wheatus have been up to since the massive success of hit single ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ way back in 2001. “I’ve been so overwhelmed by the fact that we haven’t been here in a while, yet there’s kids here who are like thirteen, fourteen years old; they all know our songs. When our first record came out you realise these kids were eight or nine years old. What else do you need if you’re in a band? It’s definitely cool. You never know how your life is going to turn out. When I wrote those songs I was working a low-paid job, I always thought that music was something I could do as a hobby. Then all of a sudden it happened, and very quickly it un-happened.”

For those not aware, Wheatus were dropped by Sony BMG prior to the release of their second album, as they didn’t see it as having as much potential as the self titled. “For Sony we just didn’t fit into their business model. They planned for us to be one-hit wonders. They don’t build careers anymore, they release songs to make money, and as soon as they’ve made the money, they’re reluctant to take another chance on you”.

In a way, Wheatus are something of an unconventional band. With an acoustic guitar, electronic drums and female backing singers, they’re not a group to fit into a particular musical niche. “I think they were just a little confused by us, they didn’t know what to make of our sound. They don’t calculate for the fact that the majority of people don’t evaluate a band by what genre it is, they’re just concerned about whether it’s a good enough song to part with my money”.

In terms of a personal journey, the last five years have been a real breakneck ride for the Wheatus frontman. Aside from record label fuck-ups and the like, you’d expect such a series of events to take its toll on a man’s character. “I’ve re-iterated to myself to be a musician at all costs. The personnel for the band has changed quite a bit, and it’s been a struggle to avoid financial ruin. The line-up now is the best we’ve ever had. You have to all be on the same page and support each other on stage, and these are totally the right people to do this with.”

Don’t be mistaken for thinking Brendan B. Brown is a depressed man, or unappreciative of people enjoying his music. He’s been through a hectic half-decade of people letting him down inside the music industry and out, but right now it seems there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for Wheatus. With the Good To Go Tour on the horizon, 2007 may well be the year this band make their return, so make sure you’re ready for it.

Andy R

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