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A Q&A With Brendan B. Brown of Wheatus

Group photo of the band Wheatus
Wheatus, Photo by Rachel Murdy, 2019

Capital Music Club is celebrating 10 years of bringing live music to Saskatoon this May. Among the crew of amazing artists they are featuring is Wheatus whose claim to fame is the 2000 single “Teenage Dirtbag”.  NSMZ caught up with Brendan B. Brown, lead singer and guitarist, who wrote the popular song to talk about life lessons, songs he’s proud of and what attendees of the May 11th show can expect. 

Portrait of Brendan B. Brown, Lead Singer and Guitarist for Wheatus
Brendan B. Brown, Lead singer/Guitarist for Wheatus, Image by Max Skaff

How did Brown get started in music?

According to family stories, music has been his passion since he was 2 years old when he could be found singing and dancing along to Bobby Darin. When he was eight, his Mom taught him to play “My Girl” on her acoustic guitar. While he took guitar lessons for a couple of months in the early eighties, he’s largely self-taught. And he hasn’t stopped learning since.

In 2020, they rerecorded and expanded their original self-titled debut album and included ten more songs they felt belonged with the original. Brown learned through that rerecording process that there were “imperfections that become new and iconic and imperfections that are just imperfections.” Part of the rerecording process involved determining which imperfections needed to stay and which needed to go. Going forward, Brown hopes to cultivate those wrinkles that create “fascinating, interesting little moments” in future songs.

What songs are Brown most proud of creating?

“What a fascinating question that is. There’s a few. ‘The London Sun’, I’m really kind of glad about that one.’”  Despite often being asked if he’s sick of playing it, “Teenage Dirtbag” is still a song he’s proud of and enjoys performing. From their sixth studio album, The Valentine, “The Fall in Love” is one because it “feels like a big, complete composition . . .  It's very complex and it's a longer song. It has the sort of evolving drum pattern that we did on the outro that is kind of mesmerizing. And it's difficult to make it feel mesmerizing. I remember going back to the drawing board several times to try and make sure that the flow of it was such that it would make you feel sort of floaty and dreamy. And we finally got it right.” Also, the song  “Lullaby” would fall into that category from their upcoming seventh studio album. You can check out these songs here:  

How has music changed for Brown over the years?

Well, he’s no longer a teenager. “it's become more of a physicality. Like I have all the exercises that I do and all the sort of stretches that I do in the morning, you know, and all the warm-ups. All so that I can still play and sing . . . so it's part of my physical life now. ‘Cause earlier I just kind of took it for granted, you know. But I think how has it changed? How has music changed for me over the years? I think it's gotten more interesting. That's certainly true.” They have also evolved in subject matters. On their upcoming album, one of their songs explores the danger of absolute monarchies. ”I never thought we'd be talking about that, but we are.”

What is the legacy Brown would like Wheatus to leave behind?

Growing up during a time when people had "very intense tribal affiliations" with music, where people only listened to a single genre, he hopes they contribute to the breaking down of those musical barriers. That Wheatus inspires listeners to embrace all genres of music and it's "okay to listen to everything and be and everything."

What can you expect at the Wheatus show this coming Saturday night?

They plan to cover a couple of Canadian classics but you, the audience, will guide the show. So come armed with your Wheatus favourites.

If you haven't gotten your tickets to the show at Capitol Music Club on May 11, 2024, yet, you can get them on Showpass.

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