Wheatus should be a one hit wonder band, the kind that littered the music industry in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Their ubiquitous debut single “Teenage Dirtbag” (# 42 on the BBC Radio One Sales Chart Of The Decade, recently featured on HBO’s Generation Kill and soon to be part of the Rock Band video game phenomenon) propelled their eponymous debut album to sell more than 3 million copies worldwide. Unlike many of their peers, Wheatus continue to regularly write, record, and tour 10 years later, 100% independent.
After a lengthy and devastating legal battle, they regained the rights to their sophomore album Hand Over Your Loved Ones and released it, Free from corporate oversight they returned to the studio and recorded their third full-length, TooSoonMonsoon. With a new line-up, Wheatus hit the road with a slew of tour dates throughout the US and UK, including the sold out UKGet Happy Tour, and their own independant University and College Tour, which once again put the band on stage in front of tens of thousands of fans, who sing along....loudly.
Now, Wheatus are recording and releasing Pop, Songs & Death, a series of EPs available for download exclusively from wheatus.com as a multi-format “pay what you want” DRM Free download. Pop, Songs & Death Vol 1, The Lightning EP, is the first record to ever be released in the revolutionary new DSD format for Playstation3. It has had hundreds of thousands of downloads, accompanied by generous donations and heartfelt thanks. Two songs from Vol. 1 were prominently featured in April Showers, an independent film depicting the actual events of the Columbine Massacre, directed by one of the surviving Columbine students, Andrew Robinson. Pop, Songs & Death Vol. 2, The Jupiter EP was released in December 2010.
Since January 2012, the band have been taking to the studio once again to record Pop, Songs & Death Vol. 3 and to prepare for a tour of the UK.
Wheatus showcased at NACA South Regional Conference in 2010.
Brendan B. Brown - Lead Vocals; Guitar
Matthew Milligan - Bass
Kevin Garcia - Drums
Mark Palmer - keyboards
Gabrielle Sterbenz - Backing Vocals
Karlie Bruce - Backing Vocals
Wheatus - album (Columbia Records 2000)
Teenage Dirtbag - single (Columbia Records 2001)
A Little Respect - single (Columbia Records 2001)
Wannabe Gangstar - single (Columbia Records 2001)
Hand Over Your Loved Ones - album (Columbia Records 2003 - UK, Germany only)
American In Amsterdam - single (Columbia Records 2003 - UK only)
Lemonade EP (iTunes only - 2004)
Live at XM Radio EP (iTunes only - 2004)
SUCK FONY - album (Montauk Mantis Records - Feb 2005)
Too Soon Monsoon - album (Montauk Mantis Records - Oct 2005)
London Sun EP (iTunes only - Mar 2006)
Pop, Songs & Death: Vol. 1 - The Lightning EP (June 2009)
Pop, Songs & Death: Vol. 2 - The Jupiter EP (December 2010)
Wheatus, MC Frontalot, Math the Band, City Stereo 2011 live review
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The Tunnels, Aberdeen – a dark dank walk under the city’s main shopping street into what looks like ...The Tunnels, Aberdeen – a dark dank walk under the city’s main shopping street into what looks like a hidden private club. On entering it’s more like a nice bar for meeting friends. With the doors opening at 7pm we expected a late night waiting for Wheatus and having to endure some boring support acts. First on out of the three support bands was City Stereo.They were a lively young five piece from Salisbury squashed on stage amongst the other band’s equipment. They were actually not bad. The sound was a little bit ‘5 years too late’ but the vocals were good and they had catchy tunes.
With the crowd nicely warmed up and filling up the room the next support act came on. Math The Band were (to put it mildly) bizarre, and will be very hard to describe! They consisted of Kevin on guitar and Justine on synthesiser. They self describe themselves as an ‘electro-Punk spazz duo who use a combination of old video game systems, analog synthesisers and energy drinks to make the fastest, loudest, party-est music they can imagine’. Basically this meant them playing fast, loud music along with shouty vocals and amusing energetic leaps and bounds on the stage. It wasn’t music you’d listen to at home, but to watch on stage was very entertaining! You just never knew what was coming next.
With two supports acts done there was now more room on stage and the guys from Wheatus started checking their equipment. It turned out that they would be playing as the next act did his MC’ing. MC Frontalot was ‘house called’ from the stage and eventually leapt into view. He was dressed in smart trousers, a shirt and thick glasses, with a torch on his head. Even those not into rapping enjoyed his style. He started off with a rap about grammar and grammatical mistakes and followed that with various rants about first world problems and spoilers of films. He was brilliant! He obviously got on well with the band and his rapping was seamless. Ken Flagg on keyboards assisted with vocals and was actually a very proficient singer.
Wheatus stayed on stage after MC Frontalot finished his set so they went full tilt into their own set. They didn’t feel like a main band playing to their own fans, it was more like a bunch of friends playing to friends who just happened to be really good at what they did. There was plenty of audience participation – before most songs Brendan would ask what people wanted them to play next and quite unusually the crowd would shout an array of tunes rather than just asking for the well known ones. The banter was fantastic – between the band and even better between the band and the crowd. At one point Brendan said he loved it in Aberdeen and that he’d definitely come back again as ‘you Aberdeeners are crazy and I love it’. He was promptly corrected to say ‘Aberdonian’ which he thought was hilarious, and commented back that if we were Aberdonians then why weren’t Canadians ‘Canadonians’?!
Wheatus played many great songs including ‘Fairweather Friend’ and ‘Leroy’. Between each song they chatted to the crowd, told stories and swigged whiskey (they called it Scotch and promptly got corrected again!). Some gigs drag on but this one was interesting, fun and hugely entertaining. For some reason the chant “here we, here we, here we fucking go!” was regularly shouted out and often played along to by Wheatus. It was such a shame when the gig was drawing to an end. Just before playing ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ Brendan gave an amusing little safety talk on moshing: ‘Please enjoy the music in a vertical manner rather than a horizontal manner to prevent little people getting a testicle squashed at the front’. The song went down a storm and the place kicked off. Even MC Frontalot came on to join in with it causing even more of a riot. The crowd begged for more and they obliged with one last song.
So much for a long boring evening waiting for a band to come on with not a hugely known repertoire. The whole night was entertaining from start to finish and jus
All Music Guide album review
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On Too Soon Monsoon, Wheatus' third full-length, self-production and engineering brings even the hug...On Too Soon Monsoon, Wheatus' third full-length, self-production and engineering brings even the hugest pop melody right back down to earth. This would be a detriment to most bands, but it somehow makes Wheatus' music even more immediate, because Brendan B. Brown writes these intensely personal songs that combine stories of tough love in the 21st century with bittersweet childhood memories of bike ramp crushes and the general minutiae of music obsessive's life. "The sound of American radio's making me feel like I just killed my mom and my dad," he sings in "In the Melody," while "BMX Bandits" is a fuzzy guitar pop fantasy about foxy Diamondback bike riders. Meanwhile in "Hometown," Brown's gentle rumination on 9/11, he avoids melodrama by recounting the tragedy in the context of a personal relationship with the twin towers. ("I told her that they reminded me of Motown '60s skinny ties....") The rousing choruses of these songs, alongside the same in "London Sun," "Desperate Songs," and "I Am What I Is," reveal a songwriter and band unconcerned with their past major-label woes, or even with sounding professional, since "professional" can also mean too slick. Yes, they just long to be close to you, drawing on 1980s power pop and the sweet cynicism of the Eels to make a record that often rings winsome in its lyrics but has some really sturdy songwriting under the surface. Don't let Wheatus' ho-hum cover art or unassuming production style fool you — Too Soon Monsoon is a pop gem, and it's made to be heard.
PUCKNATION.com album review
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Wheatus Graham Bailey 01/16/2006 PUCKNATION.com Wheatus "Too Soon Monsoon" 2005 Montauk...Wheatus
"Too Soon Monsoon"
2005 Montauk Mantis Records
Score: 8 (of 10)
After blowing up in 2001 with the self-titled debut that featured “Teenage Dirtbag,” Wheatus did what many other bands did, fought for creative control, and ended up releasing a record, Hand Over Your Loved Ones, which ended up getting them dropped from Columbia Records. Now Wheatus, like former one-hit wonders Nada Surf and Harvey Danger, are back with Too Soon Monsoon.
To those who remember the band mainly from their debut single, Too Soon Monsoon will be a very surprising album. The album has a well played, superbly written, highly eclectic sound to it. Songs range from the Rush-like rocker “In The Melody,” to the jazzy “Hometown,” to the slow, acoustic Weakerthans rocker “The Truth I Tell Myself.”
The vocals are reminiscent of the band’s earlier work. Vocalist Brendan Brown has a distinctly nasally, high pitched voice, that he controls well, especially on slower songs like “The Truth I Tell Myself.” Lyrically the album is well-written, ranging from “Hometown,” which deals with 9/11, to “In The Melody,” a song about the state of popular music, which features lines like, “The sound of American radio/ Is makin’ me feel like I just killed my mom and my dad.”
Overall: A catchy album, which is well-written and well-performed.
Stomp and Stammer album review
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"The sound of American radio's making me feel / Like I just killed my mom and my dad," chants Brenda..."The sound of American radio's making me feel / Like I just killed my mom and my dad," chants Brendan B. Brown on the exuberant tune "In the Melody," and who among us can't relate? This observation is backed by a hodgepodge of swirling keyboard, fist-pumping percussion and epic, well, melody -- just the sort of non-parricidal music that rightly belongs on the airwaves. Brown and his band, Wheatus (no, I don't get their name either) were briefly a part of the machine themselves. But after their sweet, sparkly single "Teenage Dirtbag" made the modern-rock scene in 2000, their U.S. profile attained Witness Protection Program-levels of obscurity. In truth, Brown, along with friends and family (brother Peter's on drums, and sister Liz sings backup) passed the time building a solid international fanbase and a slightly new lineup. They also severed a major-label relationship so cozy and agreeable that much of their second album saw a re-release under the name Suck Fony. If that strikes you as corny, you're not alone, but it's also the honest sentiment of an act exercising their newfound freedom.Unfettered to a fault by standard notions of cool (you'll definitely never notice these folks' hair before their music) and with a complete lack of public expectation on their side, Wheatus have crafted their new record on no one's terms but their own. The songs of Too Soon Monsoon are rooted in the gleeful punch of power pop and embellished with the ham-handed appeal of '70s arena rock. They rely upon the simple joy of voices blending together, arrangements that build to jukebox-ready choruses and grand, overblown instrumental flourishes. Brown is a natural hitmaker with appealing sincerity, whether the subject is the Long Island native's post-9/11 reflection ("Hometown") or a manic, crushed-out appreciation of the young Nicole Kidman ("BMX Bandits"). You can either take him at face value, in all his goofy, unsubtle glory, or go listen to the kind of guy who wears a gun holster while he plays bass. Brown probably doesn't care either way, and it's this straightforward quality that makes his songs work so well.At any rate, it's unusual and a little disconcerting to encounter a band that seems so completely without pretense, whose primary mission appears to be playing some sweet riffs, harmonizing, and satisfying their jones for the kind of feel-good sound that offers pure, uncomplicated pleasure. Theirs is a revenge of the nerds that even cool kids can enjoy. So embrace it, you hipster bastards.
Entertainment Weekly SUCK FONY review
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'Fony' Baloney Wheatus emerges from obscurity with new album -- After mistreatment by Sony, the ...'Fony' Baloney
Wheatus emerges from obscurity with new album -- After mistreatment by Sony, the band left the label and self-released their latest disc, ''Suck Fony'' by Leah Greenblatt
Four years ago, energetic Long Island rock band Wheatus were playing sold-out shows and enjoying platinum status overseas. Today, not so much. Hence the title of the group's new album, Suck Fony. (Hint: Transpose the S and the F.) According to singer-gultarist Brendan Brown, the label released the band's follow-up with ''such a whimper. It was evident to every media and radio outlet that the label did not care about this record.'' (Sony has not responded to requests from EW for comment.) Consequently, the group decided to reclaim ownership of those songs and self-release them under the new, Sony-unfriendly title. And with their new found Independence, well, we wish them lood guck.
What The Hell Was Sony Thinking?
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What the Hell Was Sony Thinking?Mar 10 '05 Pros: pure pop goodness, blending both the power and b...What the Hell Was Sony Thinking?Mar 10 '05
Pros: pure pop goodness, blending both the power and bubblegum varieties into a memorable cocktail
Cons: occasional moments of crudeness and self-indulgence
The Bottom Line: Even Sony Records' callous indifference can't keep a good thing down.
Good albums should always strive to raise questions for the listener. It challenges us. It keeps our minds sharp. It makes us feel like part of the whole artistic process. One specific question rises to mind on hearing Wheatus' 2005 release Suck Fony: what the hell was Sony Records thinking? But maybe I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. We need some historical perspective first. Back in 2000, Brendan Brown and his band Wheatus were new kids on the block in the world of rock and pop. Knowing just how hard it can be to make a noticeable splash with so many other established acts, Wheatus made the completely understandable decision to leverage their way into television and movies to maximize their exposure. As their self-titled debut was being released, the band found their first single, Teenage Dirtbag, included on the soundtrack for both Dawson's Creek and the Amy Heckerling film Loser. Underdog geeks across the country rejoiced as the song put loveable losers up on a pedestal and embraced the song as a personal anthem. The song's blend of bubblegum pop and solid rock made for something truly infectious and help to turn Wheatus' debut into an underground success. Three years later, Wheatus wrapped up work on their sophomore release, Hand Over Your Loved Ones. The songs featured the same infectious energy, the same geeky-rebellious spirit, and the same hook-laden blend of bubblegum pop and straight-ahead rock. And Sony had no idea what to do with the album. Frankly, I don't get it. Maybe Sony wanted an album that would fit into a safe category that had already been explored by other successful acts earlier in the year. Maybe they wanted a raw piece of garage rock like the White Stripes' Elephant. Maybe they wanted some friendly, positive hip-hop like Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Maybe they wanted something edgy and experimental, like Hail to the Thief. Who knows what Sony wanted, but it apparently wasn't the sweet, sugary power pop that Brown insisted on producing for Hand Over Your Loved Ones. Rather than taking the time and effort to nurture these songs and to find inventive ways to bring them to a whole new audience who might otherwise be unaware of the band, Sony shook their heads and washed their hands of Wheatus. Sony quietly released Hand Over Your Loved Ones with no marketing campaign to go along with it whatsoever, and they proceeded to let it die on the vine. With no backing support from the label, this would normally have been the end of Wheatus, but Brown knew what he had was too good to give up on. After some protracted negotiations, Brown managed to buy back distribution rights for the ten songs from hand Over Your Loved Ones. With the legalities out of the way, Brown regrouped, recorded two new songs to add to the set, and released the new collection of twelve songs on his newly formed Montauk Mantis label with the brand new title Suck Fony. So then, was Sony right? Was Brown just a self-indulgent, out of control artist who would never make another dime for Sony? You wouldn't think so from listening to Suck Fony. As soon as the disk starts up, the music hits the ground running with the bursting-with-energy The Deck. It's solid and layered, with loud, crunching guitars and shimmering keyboards vying for our attention amongst the bright sparkly of splashy cymbals. There's something plastic and artificial about the sound, but I mean that as a good thing. Take the old bubblegum pop hit makers like the Archies, Edison Lighthouse, or the Bay City Rollers, plug them in to an electrical outlet overflowing with way too much juice, and let them run rampant, and you'll get an approximation of the sound on Suck Fony. Sure, The Deck may not make all that much sense, with lyrics like:
"now I'm not a DJ, I play one in real life,
you've heard all my records, the hits cut like steak knives,
role out the red carpet, like leaves through the winter,
now I'm not a DJ, I'd sure like to be"
but with the song's roots as a revved up bit of bubblegum pop, such self-important nonsense is not only acceptable, it's to be expected. From there, the album flows through a string of anthemic, hook-laden power pop gems, most of which appeal to the loveable losers and downtrodden misfits in all of us. Listen to Anyway. Brown's sweetly nerdy, slightly nasal tenor voice pokes out from a tangle of crashing cymbals and bubbling keyboard to proudly proclaim:
"OK so I'm a jerk and I'm a weirdo
and even if I'm lucky ill amount to zero
but i thought that you'd love me anyway
I'm so not even worth it, but baby no-ones perfect
yeah, I thought that you'd love me anyway"
Even the more emotionally painful moments on the album approach their subject matter through an optimistic geek's perspective. When confronted with the fact that he's been the victim of infidelity in Lemonade, his only reaction is to retreat to the warm, old-age fantasy of:
"I wanna be eighty on the porch
drinking lemonade with you
and it's all that I can think about
since you told me that you cheated"
In addition the to the geeky, off-kilter sentiments of love, there's also a healthy streak of snot-nosed rebellion. Songs like Fair Weather Friend and The Song That I Wrote When You Dissed Me use the band's energetic blend of solid rock and bubblegum pop as canvas upon which to spread some pent-up vitriol over having been kicked around and cast aside a little too often. Likewise, the group's cover of Pat Benatar's Hit Me With Your Best Shot raises a musical middle finger to capture Brown's frustrations with major record label politics. The added layer of intrigue with the song's new gender bending simply adds a little fuel onto the fire. Given Wheatus' rocky relationship with Sony Records, it's not surprising to see this streak of angry rebellion on the album. Surprising, though, is that many of these defiant songs were written and recorded for Hand Over Your Loved Ones, long before Brown and Sony Records came to blows over the band's fate. Of these songs that could be viewed as an attempt to spit in Sony Records' face, only the cover of Hit Me With Your Best Shot was recorded as an afterthought to bump up the song list when Hand Over Your Loved Ones was reborn as Suck Fony. Suck Fony isn't an absolutely perfect collection. Self-indulgence rears it ugly head occasionally on the album, most notably at the end with the rather sophomoric humor of Dynomite Satchel of Pain, followed by two unnecessary remixes of The Song That I Wrote When You Dissed Me. Some might be put off by Brown's voice, complaining that there's no need for him to push his high tenor into an androgynously falsetto zone so often. Ignore those people. They don't see the sense of character and individuality it brings to Brown's vocals. Others might complain about the albums occasion habit of treading across crude lyrical territory for a line or two on some of the songs. Don't listen to those people either. They don't know how to have fun at parties. So yes, there are a few flaws, but plenty of other album found massive success with far worse problems. Sony may not have been sitting on a gold mine when they chose to let Hand Over Your Loved Ones wither away and die, but there was at least a solid vein of semi-precious metal. Nowhere is the evidence stronger than on Freak On. The song is like freebasing sugar, what with its light, bubbly synthesizer riffs and crunching electric guitar power chords. It's a light, fluff song, but it's it pure slice of summer goodness served up warm and tasty on a plate. It's the kind of song that movie executives would sell their firstborn just to get it included on the soundtrack for a light-romantic comedy or lowbrow teen romp. Sony could have easily leveraged the album into another underground hit like Wheatus' self-titled debut, but they dropped the ball. And it's a shame, when it comes down to it. 2003 was the perfect moment for an album like this. Fountains of Wayne had just re-invigorated power pop with their Welcome Interstate Managers. Hand Over Your Loved Ones may have been a bit more plastic and bubblegum in its sound, but it nails the exact same energy and free spirit perfectly. Fortunately, Wheatus found some small degree of justice with the release of Suck Fony. Now let's hope that next time they get the respect they deserve from the start.
Wheatus at Luna Lounge
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Feb/Mar 2004 (full text and photos at www.neonnyc.com/Feb04/Wheatus) WHEATUS ARE BACK FROM AMST...Feb/Mar 2004
(full text and photos at www.neonnyc.com/Feb04/Wheatus)
WHEATUS ARE BACK FROM AMSTERDAM... AND BACK TO THEIR ROOTS IN NEW YORK CITY... WHEATUS LIVE AT THE LUNA LOUNGE
Armed with my bulky Nikon as a passport to rudeness, I jostled my way through the rowdy yet surprisingly polite capacity crowd in the small back room of the Luna Lounge until I reached an unobstructed view at the front of the stage. There, Brendan B. Brown was busily trying to make last minute adjustments to his gear while his helpful sister Liz tugged at him as she fiddled to hook him up with a wireless unit. With Liz on backing vocals and younger brother Pete on drums this is somewhat of a family affair and once things kicked off it kinda did feel like we had been invited to a rambunctious family reunion where no one quite behaved themselves. This party atmosphere was further enhanced by Brendan B. sharing shots and light-hearted disses throughout the show with friends and fans in the audience. But all that Scotch didn’t seem to have any effect on the music as Wheatus smoothly paced a concert length set that included a rousing rendition of “American In Amsterdam” to wild response. This one, the hit single and video off their latest album Hand Over Your Loved Ones (Sony).
Recorded for the most part in the home studio at the Brown family enclave on Long Island, the album is a bit of a departure from Wheatus’ 2001 self-titled release which had gained them an international reputation as a party-hardy power-pop band with songs like “Teenage Dirtbag” and “A Little Respect” (both of which were top 5 chart toppers in England - where that first album was awarded a Gold Record). Wheatus still crafts engaging, high-energy pop melodies with Brown’s wry, sometimes ironic lyrics, but Brendan B’s nerdy persona has given way to a more mature, perhaps angrier version.
But what was evident the night of this show was that Wheatus was having a great time kicking off a stint in the cozy confines of the Luna as a de facto house band for a series of dates that lasts at least through the end of February (catch ‘em while you can). This must be quite a change from their extensive U.K . tour just this past fall. And they did it up right. Instruments directly through the P.A.; Pete Brown and his drum kit behind a plexi wall; vocal and instrumental sound mixed to perfection. Yet for all that apparent care in delivering studio quality sound it was a rollicking night with the Browns letting loose along with Mike McCabe on bass, Shannon Harris on keys and Kathryn Froggat joining Liz on back-up vocals. An intimate show in an intimate club by a world class party band.
Commentary and photos by Jeff Rey
© Copyright 2004 NEON, blue door productions
All rights reserved
75 - 90 mins depending on venue.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.