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Brendan Brown: Wheatus, Management & Learning from Experience

Our guest this week is Brendan Brown of Wheatus. Wheatus are perhaps best known for their hit “Teenage Dirtbag” but their story goes far deeper. The band have remained unsigned & unmanaged for the last 8 years, and continue to write, record, and tour 15 years after their inception.

The band are in the process of releasing Volumes 1-8 of Pop, Songs & Death, a series of EPs available exclusively from wheatus.com as multi-format “pay-what-you-want” digital downloads. With a band biography that includes lawsuits, lineup changes, interstate art heist investigations and more, Brendan shares his experiences of the music industry and the advice he’d offer to his fellow musicians.

Highlights:

  • Our introduction for Brendan is outdated, but for once it isn’t completely Ross’s fault!
  • “We are still stubbornly obsessed with making records in an analog format” – Brendan B Brown
  • Brendan wants to buy an artifact from Ross’s music geek childhood
  • Brendan tells us about Wheatus’s major label experience and why they have remained unsigned since
  • We hear how Wheatus were excited about Napster as it enabled more people to have their music than just outside their local scene
  • Brendan tells us how the label wanted to change his appearance, and he wasn’t comfortable with that
  • We hear how Brendan and Wheatus juggle all the different tasks that need to be done as an unmanaged band
  • We talk about the pros and cons of having a manager, and some of the challenges Wheatus have faced
  • “Everything goes into your experience basket and you use it to be positive in the future, so you don’t fuck up again” – Brendan Brown
  • Brendan shares a story about a legal battle involving their former manager
  • “If a manager is not doing the job and bringing that percentage in, they’re an unaffordable cost” – Brendan Brown
  • “Your manager has to be a member of the family, and has to be truly trusted” – Brendan Brown
  • Ross and Marcio accidentally create some new social networks through getting tongue tied

Advice:

  • Conventionality is the danger – you have to find your own way, built on mistakes and the unexpected
  • You have to let go of the things you thought would happen, and go with what comes your way
  • Learn how to use the broken version of your dreams

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