Wheatus lead singer Brendan B. Brown on coming back to SA: 'It was just a chance we couldn't let pass by'


Channel24 called Wheatus' lead singer, Brendan B. Brown - while he was on tour in America – about coming to South Africa again, performing at the Splashy Fen Festival and The LUSH Festival and changing-up his songwriting process. 

Cape Town - In 2000, American band Wheatus released one of their biggest hits titled Teenage Dirtbag - a song that not only topped charts all over the world but that I personally played so much that the CD scratched. Since then, they've released numerous albums and toured South Africa in 2001.

About that trip Brendan said: "We were in South Africa in 2001 and it was a beautiful place. We're very excited about being invited back after all these years."

Brendan B. Brown

He added: "The first time we went, we did four shows. We (the band) were just remembering how lovely everybody was and what a beautiful place it was to be in. It's not a place we get to go often because of how far away it is." 

He went on to gush about his visit, saying: "It was one of the best things we've ever done, you know, in our career. That South African trip is still something that myself and the original members of the band talk about all the time. Whenever we get together, we have memories of that. So, when this opportunity arose a few months ago to come back down there we really just had to jump on it. We had to do it. It was just a chance we couldn't let pass by."

Brendan B. Brown

Brendan told me that during his first trip to SA he got to go on safari. About what he found most memorable of that experience, he said: "That was the first time in my life I'd ever seen a rhinoceros in real life. It was incredible. It was this feeling of seeing this ancient creature, this dinosaur, effectively, the size of a truck just standing there very peacefully next to me. It was an existential moment for me. I will always cherish that. That was great."

Wheatus had recently completed a 48-tour date tour of Europe before my chat with Brendan, so I asked him about staying healthy for that long and gruelling schedule. His answer was simple and direct: "No drinking."

He added firmly: "Absolutely no drinking. I don't drink on the road. I stay away from alcohol, and get very sick if I don't adhere to that." He admitted: "I still get sick, but it's never as bad as if I had the alcohol. I also try to get sleep and drink lots of water." About his diet, he said: "Vegetables and blueberries are a big deal. We love blueberries."

When you've been in the music industry as long as 45-year-old Brendan, who has been in Wheatus since 1995, you learn a lot, but does the singer have any regrets about his career thus far? He told me: "I think I would have made certain decisions differently for our digital rights, in the contracts that we signed. But it wound up all the same because we got out of the major label system in 2003. I mean you can never go back, so I won't think too much on it. I think we've been very fortunate in that regard. We've survived those sort of changes that have happened and we're in a healthy place now. We've created a small and sustainable ecosystem for our music."

Brendan has such a vast discography that I wondered if he repeated his winning creative formula over and over again or if he likes to change things up. He admitted to me, that he had veered away from his usual process on the band's most recent record, explaining: "On our most recent release we have a song called Lullaby. I sat down in the winter of 2017, or maybe even earlier than that, 2016, and I wanted to make a song that was in the traditional format of a song like Somewhere Over the Rainbow or one of the jazz hits from the 30s and 40s. We forget that back then, pop music was jazz and it was very complicated and very interesting. But at the same time, it was still accessible. And I wanted to make a metal song like that."


Wheatus have toured the world and performed countless times, so Brendan doesn't get butterflies before he gets on stage that much anymore. But when asked if he ever did experience stage fright, he revealed: "Very much so. When we used to do our first TV appearances, as a new band, there were moments when I felt stage fright. It's gotten better now." 

The New York native then reminisced: "We had a few special television experiences in the United Kingdom. One in particular, we played the Prince's Trust Party in the Park. We did well, we got off to the right foot and we had a good performance and I still look back on that fondly because it was a live audience up of to 250 000 and a television audience of millions." 

(Photo: Getty)


DATE: Thursday, 18 April 2019 – Saturday, 20 April 2019

VENUE: Noah’s Cheese Farm, Clarens

PRICE: Tickets are priced from R645.00 and available from Howler.