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APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.

Cheers!
SoulMonster

2018.01.11 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Brain

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2018.01.11 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Brain Empty 2018.01.11 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Brain

Post by Blackstar Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:39 pm

Full interview:



CLIPS: Brain was nervous for Rock in Rio



CLIPS: Brain's love/hate for Chinese Democracy



Transcript:

Voiceover: From the iHeartRadio studios in New York City come fans of the greatest rock and roll band hailing from Hollywood California. Dissecting all things Guns N' Roses and anything else distorted, this is Appetite for Distortion.

Brando: And welcome to the podcast Appetite for Distortion episode 42. Jackie Robinson, here's the Jackie Robinson of journalism, my special co-host for today, Art Tavana [?], what's going on, buddy?

[cut pre-interview chat]

Brando: All right. This is just... I remember the first time I saw Brain, which was an awkward... I always end my interviews awkward and start them awkward. I was in the basement of my mom's house, when I was still living at home, and it was me and my then girlfriend at the time and we had on the 2002 Video Music Awards and there were rumors about some big bands showing up and - without making Brain completely uncomfortable - me and my then girlfriend were doing stuff and then all of a sudden we hear Jimmy Fallon.

[Recording from 2002 MTV Video Music Awards of Jimmy Fallon introducing GN'R]

Brando: Curtains go up, "That's Axl? Okay. I know that's Axl, I don't recognize him in the jersey and the dreads but I know that's Axl. Is that Slash? That's not Slash. Did he change to into a bucket?" I didn't know what was going on. I'm like, "I really don't know that drummer." It was a totally new band and that's when I really fell in love with Guns N' Roses again, learning more about you. So, many steps before we get to that point in your life, first of all, Brain, welcome!

Brain: Hey, man! I'm glad to be on this. Thanks for inviting me.

Brando: No problem. Do you prefer Brain or do you prefer - I'm not gonna call you by your Hebrew name or whatever.

Brain: Yeah, I mean my mom calls me 'Brain' at this point so you know I figured, yeah, everybody calls me that so. My daughter even says 'Brain' so I'm just like, "Oh-oh, shit!"

[laughter]

Brain: You know, it's stuck, you know, the nickname that was given to me when I was in going to PIT, that Percussion Institute of Technology, you know, MIT or whatever, in Hollywood, and I was always just, you know, I really wanted to practice like all the crazy Terry Bozzio stuff, was a huge fan of Terry Bozzio because of Frank Zappa, and then his Missing Person stuff and all that stuff so you know I was just learning, I was trying to learn this Portraits [?] and Rhythm book and it was a very, it's a classical snare drum book that Anthony Cerrone [?] wrote and it's just, you know, it looks like someone just thew, you know, shit on fly papers, you know, just it's black, basically, and how many notes are crammed into each bar. And so, you know, everybody kept saying, "What are you? Some kind of brain?", cuz, you know, I wanted to sit there and learn this because I kept thinking, "[?] as good as Terry Bozzio," or something, you know some stupid shit like that. So that's just where the nickname came from and then since then, you know, it just kind of stuck, all my friends started calling me it, and then it became a thing and I thought, "Ah," you know, "might as well keep it, sounds kind of cool, a little different," so.

Brando: It does sound cool. I mean, if anyone says Brain I either think of you or I think of Krang from the Ninja Turtles.

Brain: Right, right, yeah.

[play clip from Ninja Turtles]

Brando: So where are you calling from, calling from now, by the way?

Brain: Right now I'm in the Bay Area, actually, because I was, as stupid as it sounds, I'm taking pro - like not pro, but he was a pro - taking tennis lessons and so-

Brando: Oh yeah? Cool.

Brain: Yeah, I come up to the Bay because there's really this guy that is really rad that teaches up here.

Brando: I'm not a major tennis fan but, I mean, I assume it's not Pete Sampras or anything?

Brain: No, no, it's not that but, you know, he was on the tour for a while. But I guess, you know, I just got into tennis. It was a way to just kind of.... you know, lately, the last like year to like about two years now, and it's just a way to get away from music, you know what I mean? So it's like one of those things. I was into golf for a long time like, you know, I'd take my clubs out on the GN'R tour, the Primus tours, so I got into that. And then, I don't know, I all of a sudden I just... I played tennis in high school and I was just like, you know, "I want to get back into tennis." So right now I'm just up in the Bay, I'm up in the San Francisco Bay Area, because that's where this guy is and that's where my daughter lives right now so I come and visit her every other week anyway. So I'm up here right now and then I go back to LA probably tomorrow or the next day.

Brando: Oh nice. And Art, where are you know? How far away are you from Brain?

AT: I live in Burbank, California, so Brain, you know where that is?

Brain: Yeah.

AT: So I live like next to like Disney Disney Studios and Warner Brothers.

Brando: I'm a New Yorker so I don't know anything in the West Coast, so that's why I'm asking. I'm like, "Oh, you're on the West Coast? You must know each other," it's like the same thing when anyone meets me I'm like, "Oh, I'm Jewish," "Oh, do you know this person?" "Yeah, we all meet."

AT: It's so big here. It's like Burbank is like an hour and a half away from like Westwood-

Brando: Oh, okay.

AT: -an hour away from like Bennet [?], everything's so far away from each other, don't ever leave your neighborhood.

Brando: Gotcha.

Brain: I used to live in Studio City and my studio was in Venice, you know, I shared-

AT: Oh god.

Brain: -yeah! And, like commuting, you're absolutely right, it was like it felt like a different country. You know, like, "I gotta go to work, if I just, and go on a [?]" you know what I mean? I was just like, "Okay, I'm going to all different [?]" you know, state, to just work, you know, because some days it would take forever and the [?] is just weird, it's just nobody kind of crosses over, cuz it takes too long, you know, it's like ridiculous. But today I live-

AT: -speaking of, sorry, speaking of Los Angeles, I just want to like jump in on one quick question: is there like a studio or a room that you just love playing in or recording in the most? Like, where your drum sound the coolest or like the vibe is perfect for you, they're like a favorite spot for you?

Brain: Well, you know, I mean, spots like that when I was growing up were more on the Bay because I was doing more drumming as far as, like, you know, in the studio almost every day, that's when like the ad shit was booming out here in San Francisco and, you know, I'd get like three calls a day, and I felt like I was a Vinny [?] or Steve [?] of, you know, the Bay Area at one point because I'd be getting two or three calls a day. So, you know, there were studios and stuff that I would just love. But, you know, recently, you know, I've been doing a lot of playing drums, I've been playing a lot of drums for video games and shit so, you know, yeah, so, I, you know, we use EastWest a lot and I really got into, I think, it's not the big room but it's the medium room, I think it's Studio C in the back, think it's [?], yeah, but it's just like a perfect size. I think that's where the Chili Peppers were doing an album, not their last one with Danger... I think they did the last one with Danger Mouse, right, or whatever, but the one before that was Rick Rubin, I think that's the room they used. We started doing all the recording there and I just loved it because their big room was just too big, you know, it was almost like, it's almost like recording at Skywalker because we did a lot of... I did a lot of recording up there and-

AT: -oh shit.

Brain: -yeah, it's just too big of a room, though, you know what I mean? It's just you get lost in it. And that's how kind of the room at EastWest, their big room, feels. But they have a smaller room, the medium-size room in the back, and that one just seemed that drums just sounded great in there. I just loved it.

AT: It's cool because you've been called upon to like play for Primus and Guns N' Roses and you have to go in and kind of add your own touch or even add your own sort of rhythm and your own sounds to these these songs or learn their songs. Is that like an experience you still crave? Like a new band hits you up you want to go do that with them? Or do you crave or prefer like the studio or video game studio hitting you up with like a title and saying, "Take over and just create some music for this"? Looks like a more creatively inspiring experience for you.

Brain: Well, you know, it's funny because, you know, I started really, you know, trying to just really be like, you know, into that... I was really in fusion. And, I mean, I, you know, I grew up with rock, like, you know, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Rush, you know, cuz I was kind of gravitating towards drums at that point so, you know-

Brando: - to Neil Peart for a drummer.

Brain: Yeah, yeah, so, you know, like, yeah, Keith Moon, John Bonham, Neil Peart, all that kind of stuff I was really into it. Or Pat Travers, Tommy Aldridge, you know, I was just a huge fan of Tommy and just that whole thing. And then when I started studying music, I started learning how to read, taking lessons, doing all that stuff, I started getting into fusion. And, you know, with fusion it's more like, you know, it's like beaten off [?] or, whatever, it's, you know, you're just like getting, you know, you're like tons of notes, different odd time signatures. "I got high on my own supply" type of thing. It was funny because when I joined Guns I didn't, you know, I mean, of course I heard the album and I knew about Appetite, I, you know, just saw it was huge. I think at that time, you know, they were doing the Monsters Of Rock with like... I kind of knew Kirk
Hammett a little bit because I was in this band Godflesh and he was a huge Godflesh fan so he was hanging around. And then Mike Patton, so Mike was on that tour with Faith No More he's... Yeah, crazy it was, just what was going on. And so, you know, I was just always intrigued and kind of a just a fan of just Axl his vibe, you know. I'd look at his N.W.A. hat with his, you know, the crazy outfits and shit and I'd be like, "What?" you know, cuz I was always into hip-hop also. You know, at that point I was getting into hip-hop. But so I was into like hip-hop and fusion and it's funny because when I joined Guns I thought it was gonna be easy. You know, like, I thought, "It's just rock, man," you know it's just easy, you know. And then Tommy Stinson, who's the bass player at that time, I remember... I don't know if we should get into this now or if it's just too early to start talking about how I got into it or-

Brando: I like how you noticed that, no, this is a good... let's put a pin, let's tease all the listeners here, we're gonna get to that because I want to go in - and you did notice - I want to find out a little bit more about "baby Brain", you know, you grew up on the West Coast and I want to create the picture and how you got into this. No, I like it, it's like in a movie, you're foreshadowing what's gonna happen, "Oh, let's go back to the beginning and build of the story."

Brain: Yeah, yeah, right on. Yeah, yeah, I just wanted to catch myself because it was interesting and the question... that's a great question because it really threw me, but yeah we'll get into that. But yeah, so basically I was always into rock. I was, like, you know, like, just a huge like fan of, like, those particular bands, like, Neil Peart, you know, I mean, Rush, which had Neil Peart, you know. At that time I was toying with guitar, I was trying to do everything, you know, I was taking guitar lessons, bass lessons, piano lessons, at first before I even started drums.

Brando: You just knew you wanted to be in music? You didn't know how, though?

Brain: Yeah, yeah, exactly. I wanted to be in music, you know, I was hanging around a bunch of fools [?] in school that played instruments so, you know, and one group of people I hung around with they needed a bass player so I was like, "Okay, shit, I'll get a bass and learn how to play some bass." And then it was like, "Oh, you know, we need a guitar player," so I was like, "Okay." I was taking lessons trying to learn guitar and then piano was something I was doing, you know, because my parents were just like, "Hey, take some piano lessons." But keyboards were kind of uncool, you know, like it was like in Ted Nugent - I don't know if you've ever seen that video - it's like one of my favorite videos where he's in the woods and you've got like his guns and shit and he's like searching for the enemy and then he finds the enemy and it's a keyboard.

[laughs]

Brando: No, I haven't seen that video.

Brain: It's awesome, man. And so, you know, since then I think, you know, keyboards are fine in rock I guess, I don't know still.

Brando: You had two keyboardists in Guns, but I guess we'll get to that.

Brain: Yeah, yeah, we'll get to that. But anyway, so, you know, it was kind of like, "Okay, so it's going to be either guitar bass or drums," and then a friend of mine, you know, who was playing in school, you know, during like recess and shit, you know, be like, "Hey, today in the squad [?]," you know, "Mirv's going to be playing with his band," and, you know, he was playing Led Zeppelin, he was playing like Black Sabbath, he was playing all this rock shit and I just was like, "Oh my god," you know, I want to play with this guy and [?] guitar player. And, you know, he had in his band he had also a bass player so they were really tight. But it was a drummer who was the kind of the loose cannon and then at that time my sister was like, "Hey, I know Mark, and," you know, "they kind of are looking for a drummer, "and I was like, "Fuck! Okay, I want to be in this band, I'm gonna learn drums." So, you know, I started listening to like Rock Candy [?], Ronnie Montrose, all that kind of shit that was, you know, was kind of big at that point. Even Journey, old Journey, you know, [?] Neil Sean [?] with that whole tuhoe tech [?], I think it was, it was one of the first shows I saw was Journey at some, you know, like Civic Center show or something. And then so I was like, "I'm going to play drums." Then I got into AC/DC. I remember I was into skating really heavily and this dude, Blackheart, that was his name, he had the coolest name in town, and, you know, it was like, "Oh, Blackheart's here to skate this pool," because we'd be just cruising around trying to find pools to skate because that's when it was like popular to like find empty pools around town and I was kind of living in suburbia so it was like, you know, empty pools were like things that you can find very easily if you just cruise around and just like went in the neighborhoods, rich neighborhoods, and just looked over the fence, you know. So there was this one pool and the guy was cranked that we were skating and the guy had a ghetto blaster was cranking AC/DC and I was like, "Oh-oh," like, "this is the shit, right here," like, "I want to play this shit on drums." And so, you know, I found a teacher, you know, brought an AC/DC and he was like, "Oh yeah," you know, "this is great stuff," and he showed me it and I just played the songs. Then my sister said, "Hey, you know this Mirv guy need a drummer and he wants to jam with you," because, you know, she's like two years younger than me and so was this guy. And I started kind of late because I was really into skateboarding more than anything, so I was trying to become a professional skateboarder but then I broke my foot and I kind of had to stop skateboarding and so I got into just practicing on a pad and, you know, learning stuff and my foot got better but I really dove into drums. But to make a long story short, I joined his band and it was like, "Well, you're going to be a drummer." And then since then I swear to you I just haven't stopped, the phone kept ringing, one thing led to another, you know, I didn't go after it like, "Oh my god, I have to be a drummer," I could have went bass or I could have went guitar, depending on what situation happened. So that's sort of how I got into the drums and then I just basically started meeting people, you know, just hanging out playing and people offered me gigs and I just kept going and going. And I swear to you I never thought about it since then.

Brando: That's insane because, I mean, Axl famously left Lafayette and, you know, of course [?] then Welcome to the Jungle video and last episode speaking to Christopher Thorn where... he was in some small town in Pennsylvania and he's like, "I gotta move out to LA, I gotta be," "this is what I want to do." You just found it, you happen to be there and, like you said, the phone hasn't stopped ringing. Like, so there was never a point for you where, "Oh my god, this is happening for me"? Or is it just has been a non-stop ride?

Brain: It's been a non-stop ride, dude. Yeah, that's what's so crazy, it's just one thing led to another, it was just like, "Okay," I met some guys, jammed around town, then I just... the biggest man at that time, there was this World Deep Movement [?] they called it in San Francisco and I think David Rubenstein or something was the, who was like Herbie Hancock's manager at the time, was like, you know, heading this whole huge movement of like three of the, three bands are blowing up, it was like The Freaky Executives, Big City and then The Looters, and I think he was managing all of that at that point. I'm not sure, though, he might not, but he was definitely managing Big City and they saw me play with this band I was playing around locally in town and then they asked me to join their band. Then from there I met Les and then Les asked me to join Primus. It was like that kind of a thing. And then Les was like, "Hey man, this guy Tom Waits is looking for a drummer," like, you know, "Oh, okay, that sounds cool," you know what I mean? It was just like... and then, you know, then I had met Buckethead and then, you know, and then blah blah, it just kept going, I don't know if it's still too early to keep going in that way but... That's sort of, yeah, it was kind of weird, I know what you mean, a lot of people, like, I have friends now that are like that are, you know, moved to LA and they're just like, "Yeah, I'm trying to become," you know, "get in the band," or, "become a drummer," or whatever. Yeah, I'm lucky in drumming.

Someone: Why do you think that is? I mean, you're obviously that good but you've had to develop your talent or do you think it's your personality? Why so many people want to work with you?

Brain: I mean, I think it was really the area, like, I think, you know how like, it's like being the big fish in a little pond work for me here. You know, it never worked in LA for me. You know, it's like there's just so many great drummers and so much talent there. Or New York. You know, I happen to just be lucky and be in the Bay Area where I think it was just, you know... and I work my ass off. I'd play with anybody, I was playing three or four shows, you know, a week, somewhere in San Francisco, with three or four different bands, you know. In every club, any popular, two gigs a night type shit, you know. Like, I'd go from the Kennel Club over to the Nightbreak, over to the EyeBe [?], like in one night, playing with three different groups. So I just became like the drummer of like, "Oh yeah, Brain's [?] play a punk rock thing," so I'd play with, like you know, I think they were called the Frontier Wives [?] at that time and they were like a punk type of band. It was like, "Oh, Brain could also play," you know, like, "weird, moody, you know, Depeche Mode type stuff," and there was some electronic, you know, band coming up trying to do that shit. I'd play with them and then I'd go, you know. And I'd literally put my change in the car and put it on different outfits for the gig.

[laughter]

Brando: That was your changing room. You did your own little dressing changes in your car,

Brain: Yeah, because I was like, "Oh shit! I'm playing with these guys tonight and there's this style and this thing." And I don't know, you know, I mean, I'm half Italian, half Japanese, and I think in some ways, you know, being like in school, you know, I wasn't fully, you know, with all these Asian dudes [?] cool Japanese friends didn't really accept me as, like, a full member but I could kind of hang, and then the white skate punk dudes were like, "Okay, well, he's got a different look," you know, I kind of went everywhere. So that's sort of how I felt like I was with drumming, you know, I kind of just floated into different things and I can adapt.

Brando: Is that why you think you never, you know, like, you're not with a specific band, like, you're still famous regardless working with all these famous bands, but it's not like, "Brain from this band," and everybody's gonna know. It's not a, "Joey Kraemer from Aerosmith," so is there a reason why, like, I guess, are you relating to maybe your ethnicity as to maybe ingrained why you like bouncing around? Do you feel like you don't have a home? I don't want to make it sound sad, but-

Brain: I mean, you know, it's funny, dude, because it kind of... it's weird because I'm not like... like, even like Richard Fortus or whatever, right, like, he's kind of like the 'Josh Freese of guitar' [?] kind of, you know what I mean? He can play anything and he can join, you know, and play with anybody and play on a bunch of people's albums, but he was never really a member, but then I'm not really looked at as a studio cat. But then I was in like Primus for long enough to feel like, "Oh, he was almost a member I guess," you know what I mean? I was in it for like six or seven years and there was like, "Okay, he was in Guns N' Roses, okay, he did that for like six or seven years but is he a member? I don't know, yeah, but no," but, you know, but a little more than like what Richard was doing before he joined Guns. Now you can feel like he's been in Guns long enough. I remember the last time I saw him, you know, Axl's making a joke or whatever like, "Oh, I think he's been in the band longer than I have!" You know, like, things like, you know, "He's still here!" like, you know, "15 years!" like that kind of a thing. Yeah, it's interesting, but then I'm still known as the studio musician probably, you know, in some worlds like, you know, like, people do still hire me and think of me in that way. But yeah, I don't know, I mean, sometimes I wish I did stick with one thing, you know, as I'm getting older now, you know, I kinda regret that I left, you know, things maybe too early. Whether it's been Primus or even Guns, you know what I mean?

Brando: Hmm, then I guess let's go the first there, with Primus, because that's the first band. How did that first come about and would you consider that your first big break?

Brain: Yeah, definitely. That was one thing that... it was really funny because the way I got in the band was, it was like I joined that band Big City and there was just dude loading my drums in and it was actually Les and Les was like, "Hey man! I play bass," and you know the guitar player-

Brando: -It sounds like him.

Brain And he[?] was like, "Hey man, you gotta like go see this band, it's a killer," like it was one of those things. And then, you know, I think they were opening for the Chili Peppers at the Berkeley Square in Berkeley, it was kind of this cool, you know, club where all those bands kind of came through, Fishbone, Chili Peppers, all that kind of punk, trash, group of people. You know, we're playing at this place and Primus opened and I went and saw them and I was just floored, you know. I was like, "Oh shit, this guy's sick!" You know, it's like, "He's the real deal." And so it was just like I met Les that way and then I was supposed to be in the band and then that's when I like I think something came up where I was like supposed to play and somebody else was asking me to play or whatever. So it was just kind of this thing where I was in the band but then I kind of just bailed, and then Les got Tim. And then Tim and Les and Ler, it blew up, you know. All of a sudden it became big because it got picked up by Interscope. You know, they were one of the first bands on Interscope. And then they started getting big and big and, you know, and then they got bigger where there's like playing headlining at Lollapalooza, you know, with Alice In Chains, doing all this crazy shit. And, you know, and they became their own thing kind of like the new Rush to me or something, you know what I mean? With the way Tim played and all that kind of stuff. And then I was just kind of... At that point I think that was, I think that was my lowest point in drums where I was kind of like... it wasn't like the phone wasn't ringing for like a while, I was just kind of going, "Huh? Is this really what I want to do?" you know, it's like, "Hmmm?" Now I'm starting to see like, "Oh-uh", like I had I had like a year of where I was like just trying to hustle gigs, you know, or something and I was like, "Oh shit." And that's when Les and Tim kind of had a falling out and he was like, "Hey man," you know, I think I remember I was just sitting there and I was just like kinda just like not sure what I was doing, I was like buying some electronic gear at that point, I was trying to figure out how to do some, like, I guess, pseudo beat making or composing at that point, and I remember the phone rang and it was Les. And he's like, "Hey Brain, what are you doing?" I'm like, "I don't know, just kind of sitting here, just fucking around with some gear," or something like and he's all, "Huh. Well, what if the Red Hot Chili Peppers called you right now and asked you to be the drummer?" and I was like, "Wow, that would be kind of cool I guess, I'm not really doing anything." He go, "What about if Jane's Addiction called you right now and said, 'You want to be the drummer'?" "I guess, you know, whatever." And then he was like, "What if Primus called you?" "What are you trying to say, dude?" And he's like, "I don't know, come up here, let's do some jamming, you know, I think Tim's out." And I was like, "Okay." So, you know, I went up there and I jammed and Les was like, "Well, you want to play?" You know, because I didn't know at first, I just was like, "Huh!" you know, I didn't know what I wanted to do and I think it was that kind of a looseness that - and I'll get into that with even Axl when I was dealing with their camp and stuff, it was kind of a funny story -  but with Les I was kind of like, "I don't know," and he's like, "What do you mean, you don't know? Dude, we make a lot of money," and I was just like, "Okay, that's kind of cool," you know and I just kind of.. he was like, "Alright, well you're in the band," you know and I was like, "Okay, cool." So yeah at that point I was like, "Uh-oh," because I remember he was like, "Okay! So I'll see you at rehearsal on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and the next week Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday," you know, and I was like, "Oh shit, these guys are serious!" Like, we got to record an album and we go on tour for 18 months and I was like... So to answer your question, yeah, I mean, it was like I was like, "Oh shit, I think this means I'm a drummer." Like, you know, this is a job and I-

Someone: [?] all these years of the sport[?] doesn't work, this instrument doesn't work, I mean, [?] click at that point, I mean this is-

Someone: -that's why I like the phone [?]

Brain: It got serious when I joined Primus and I was like, "Oh shit, I get it, I have to be somewhere." And that's what I meant by, like, there was that, you know, period where it was like about a year where I was like, "Wow! Okay," you know, the phone's not ringing like it used to where I was playing these and going down with them at the studio here and that's when like I said the ad shit was getting big in the city so I was doing two or three ads a day type thing, you know, and getting money, I was in the union, and I would just go pick up a check, "Wow, this is kind of fun, this is easy." Then it became hard, it was like, "Oh shit," now you know what's going on. And then like I said Les called and then it became serious. I remember it was Mike, "Oh shit, now I'm looking over and there's Taylor Hawkins and Dave Grohl's about to watch me play, "Oh shit!" you know? "Now I got to kick ass!" like, "this isn't a joke," you know, "I gotta, like, be serious about this and enjoy one thing," you know and be a part of it.

Someone: Did your vision for what you wanted to do going forward change at all at that point? As far as, like, you didn't know, did you say, "I want to be with Primus going forward," or, I don't know if there was any sort of another Eureka moment like, "Hey, this is the life that I want and this is the vision that I have going forward to people I want to work with"? I don't know if there was a grander thought, you know, going, not maybe at the beginning but working with Primus-

Brain: -yeah.

Someone: You know where I'm going?

Brain: Yeah, yeah, that's funny that you said that because the story that, you know, I've told other people before, but it still sticks with me, it's like when I was... at first it was just more like, "Oh shit!" you know, Dave... like I remember one of the shows when I first joined Primus, because Tim, and Tim and I were friends, but Tim was known as the new Neil Peart, he was very technical player, he was very, you know, he was more linear, you know, it was less of... he could groove but it was more about the chops and more about, you know, he had a big huge drum set. And when I joined Primus we did the opposite, you know, I went in with like a Bonham kit and was about the groove and it was just about hitting hard and keeping time. So people had heard like, "Oh, Primus got a new drummer," because, you know, Les said he was getting calls from people all around the world, "Oh, I play just like Tim, can I join you? Here's my videotape," and sending in tapes and shit, you know, "Check me out!" But Les wanted to do a different thing, he had a different vision at that time and what happened was... he would. I mean, with that, like I said, the Dave Grohl to Taylor Hawkins, but I'll never forget we were playing the Palladium and I looked to my right and there's Neil Peart, I looked to my left and there's Danny from Tool, and then I look behind me and there's Stewart Copeland. And I'm like, "Holy shit!" So yeah, the first couple years were just like, "I got a play in front of my heroes!" like, you know, like I'm, you know, like another gig Terry Bozzio is right behind me. Les even before my drum solo said, "Well Brain, I don't know about tonight, Terry Bozzio is sitting behind ya, go!"

Someone: [?]

Brain: Yeah, yeah. So anyways, it was kind of that for the first couple years, but what kind of got me into composing - and that's something that, you know, we could talk about even after we talk about Guns - was, I'll never forget, we're in like, you know, some crazy country and - you know, overseas or something - and we're on tour with Slayer, and the cases started coming down the ramp, you know, they were loading in, you know, because we were like getting to the... sometimes we get from the venues and we'd have to bike in the bus and we didn't get a hotel so we would stay there and I would get catering in the morning or something. And I got up early one day and they were loading out the anvil cases and the drum cases started coming out and they were just beat up to like a nub, they had every sticker from every country on there, they had just... they were just torn up and I was like, "Holy shit! Is this like what happens if you just stay on the road for the rest of your life," you know, "and do this?" So in that moment I thought, "Okay, I want to go doing composing," like, "I'm gonna start getting into," you know, "like taking piano lessons again, theory lessons, classical," you know, like I was taking chamber music lessons from someone, you know, like that kind of shit. I was just doing everything I could on the side while still doing shows with like Ozzy and, you know, we're on the Black Sabbath tour, I think we're on that Ozzfest at that point. And, you know, and all my off hours I was just trying to get into computers and music because that was where it was going, and that kind of stuff. But I always thought, "Oh no, I'm gonna end this," at one point and get into composing, that was like my main goal after I saw like what the road can do to you.

Someone: Then yeah, then the answer to my question was, "Yes, that is cool to find that out," cuz yeah, I'm assuming composing never even occurred to you prior?

Brain: Not really, no, you're absolutely right. I mean, I've always was interested in it because I always loved movies and shit and I would always listen to the music and see how it felt and, you know, and I was just an avid movie buff because my dad was so that was our kind of thing, we'd watch movies together and just talk about them and just, you know, and that was our bonding type of thing. So yeah, but yeah, it was crazy, at that point that's what I decided I was like, "Oh shit, I'm gonna get into this."

Brain: That is awesome. I know Art is a major Primus fan as well. Do you have a question to get in there?

Art: I had a question, it's not really into Primus but to Tool and Danny Carey but sort of relating to Brain more than Tool. I grew up like loving Danny Carey's drumming, I saw him with the Baked Potato [?] once and he was just like a mobster in this small room of like 50 people and I remember talking to him about like ancient geometry and all this weird shit that he used to kind of like influence his sound like was it was the occult or was like ancient sort of teachings of philosophy. I read somewhere that you were studying philosophy for a while maybe even going to academia and doing that. Did your studies or like spirituality or philosophy at all influenced like your setup or your work or your drumming?

Brain: Well, I mean, yeah, I mean, I was trying to... I mean, I know that Danny, and they're way more into it, like the old keyboardist in Guns N' Roses, Mothergoose, you know, Chris Pitman, we were really good friends and, you know, he took me to Danny's studio and, you know, they have all that crazy geometry, you know, Masonic Temple shit on the wall and all this kind of stuff. And I never went that way with it and, you know, I was just more into... you know, I was a huge fan growing up of like Bruce Lee and, you know, I know that he studied philosophy and was into it and so I kind of just was always interested in that stuff but, you know,  but more of like with like Tony Williams I think, you know, he was the jazz, you know, drummer that played with Miles and he was a huge influence on me because he played it like a rock drummer, you know, how like Jocko[?] played the bass like a punk rock rock drummer, I mean, [?] therefore did, you know, the jazz fusion stuff that he did. Tony Williams I always thought was like, you know, the most powerful jazz drummer. And because he played it like, you know, like Buddy Rich stuff, you know, just balls out, just sweating his ass off, just kicking it. It wasn't a lounge type thing, it was way more deeper than that. And I was always a fan of his and he was always into like numerology and all this kind of stuff so, you know, I kind of say as far as my setup I kind of was into that kind of shit for my setup, not really mentally, you know, but for my setup I would, you know. Definitely I copy Tony Williams on heights of stuff, like you know, my snare drum has has 12 lugs[?], my floor toms are 10 inches off the... you know, I would measure everything to have a certain kind of a cool vibe and it kind of [?] for the setup. But, you know, as far as playing now I look at playing is more like an athletic thing, you know, I try to just get in a zone and I use more of the influence of like athletes, you know, or Bruce Lee, just kind of being in the moment and trying to be, you know, trying to like channel that side of myself.

Someone: Drummers are like you have to be athlete. You almost have to be right? You have to be like a very physical person, [?], even like Danny Carey was like into basketball and you also look [?]

Brain: Funny you say that because I every time I would hang out with him or see him I go like, "Jeez," he looks like he's King Roddy, you know, came right off the court. You know, he's going [?] basketball shoes. And he's an athlete though. I mean, if you ever watch him play it's insane like you said, it's ridiculous, you know. It's like an experience, like watching Michael Jordan or something, you know, when you watch it.

Someone: Absolutely. Yeah, then let's go on forward a little bit cuz we mentioned him. What was your first experience meeting the man they called Buckethead?

Brain: Well that's yeah, that's sort of a good segway into how I got in the band because that's sort of how I was [?]. But, yeah, it was when I was in San Francisco and the editor of Guitar Player, Joe Gore, was the guitar player for that band Big City - I was talking about that, they asked me to play with them - and, you know, we were supposed to get signed, become his next huge band, or whatever, but we kind of just... it just never really worked out, we had, I don't know, bad management, just bad ever, you know, just didn't work out. So Joe Gore at that time was like a, you know, musicologist or whatever, I think he was teaching at Berkeley at the time, but he just, you know, he was kind of like my mentor as far as like different ethnic styles of music and that band sorta was a hybrid of of African beats with rock. And he basically just, you know, knew everything. So at that point he became the editor of Guitar Player. So he called me one day, it was just like, "You have to meet this guitar player because I got a tape of him and his friend sitting in his, like, bedroom on a videotape just shredding and soloing and just they sent it to I think Paul Shaffer saying, you know, 'Hey, you should get this guy in your band,'" you know-

Brando: Shaffer's band?

Brain: Yeah, in the Tonight Show.

Brando: What?[laughs]

Brain: Yeah, that's what it was meant for. It was like Bucket was sitting there with his bucket on and his mask and he was just shredding, I mean, just like really like crazy [imitating high-pitched shredding]. And, you know, Joe Gore was like, "Hey man, I think you would be perfect to play with this guy, I really think you guys would get along. You want to meet him?" And so, you know, I was like, "Yeah, that sounds cool." So Bucket, you know, I think he was living in Claremont at that time or somewhere in down south, so he came up and, you know, he was just this really shy, really sweet dude that was just a shredder, and right away he was into like, we talked about basketball, Jordan, he was into Bruce Lee, and, you know, and we just kind of got along, we just kind of hit it off, and we kind of became friends. And we didn't really do too much, you know, playing at that point, we would just kind of hang out. And at that point I had already made an album with this band called the Limbomaniacs - that was a childhood friend band from that guy that I saw playing the Quad, Mirv [=Marc Haggard], who was playing Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and Ted Nugent and all that shit, Robin Trower [?]. And he was in this... we got a childhood band, we got signed, we called it the Limbomaniacs and we got signed on Relativity Records. So Bill Laswell, we always loved Bill Laswell because of the cross... you know, he was doing these crossover things and I really loved that PIL album that he did, you know, the one where Steve Vai plays on it, Tony Williams plays on it, Ginger Baker plays on it. And, you know, it was that generic PIL album, P.I.L. That was like one of my favorite, like, albums. So we really wanted this guy to produce us and so he did, so we became kind of friends and he had called and said, "Hey, I want to put a band together with, you know, some of the Funkadelic guys," and I said, "Well, you got to see this guitar player," and I gave him the tape, the videotape of him playing and his friend going, "Hey Paul, you got to get this guy in your band! That guy you have sucks!" and he's talking while he shreds, you know. [?] So that's sort of how Bucket and I made Praxis with Bill Laswell. And that was, you know, with Bernie Worrell, Bootsy Collins, it was me, and then from the Jungle Brothers it was AF Next man Flip and this guy named Torture. And he put this band called Praxis together and we went to New York, went to Brooklyn, we recorded it there. And then, you know, Bucket and I just kind of became friends and then that kind of segwayed into when we did the Ozzfest with Primus. Since I was friends with Bucket, Les had met Bucket and was like, "We should take Bucket on tour with us and just kind of come out as a solo guest on the Ozzfest." And then that's when Ozzy wanted Bucket because he saw Bucket play with us and was like, "Shit, this is my new guy!" you know, but that didn't work out because I guess something to do with he wanted Bucket to take off his bucket and Bucket was like, "This is my look," you know, "I'm not gonna just... This is what I do," type of thing. And so that didn't kind of work out, I guess. And then at that point he had known Josh Freese from, I think, just being up in LA and then just... I forgot how he knew Josh. But Josh at that point was in Guns N' Roses, we had all heard, you know - because we had done some shows, like we were doing shows, I think we did like an award show up here in San Francisco and I remember Josh was there and I don't I think he was playing with Devo, maybe? At that point I don't know if he was playing with anybody, he just might have been there and I had kind of met Josh through, you know, some people or whatever, you know, in passing. I didn't really know him that well and, you know, or whatever, but we were doing this award show and Bucket was sitting in with us. Bucket knew him. I remember seeing Josh at the table and everybody around town was like, "Oh shit," you know, he got the Guns N' Roses gig and it was like, "Oh man, that's the heaviest gig you can ever get, the Guns N' Roses," you know, like that. And I remember going up to him like, "Dude, well shit, you're like the heavy, man, you got the Guns gig," and he was like, "Oh, I can't talk about it," you know, because that was, like, you signed an NDA and you couldn't talk about anything, what was going on. And so after that I remember we were in, I think, we were just doing a random tour with Primus, it was, like, for the Rhinoplasty album or something, and Josh had called Bucket and said, "Hey dude," you know, "I think you should try," you know, "try out for Guns," and Bucket was like, "Oh, okay," you know. And then I guess he had met, you know, like, he went and met with Axl, hung out, did some stuff with them and Axl was, you know, like, saying he wanted to change the sound more like, you know, like a different sound and do some different shit and Bucket was super into it. And Bucket was just like, "Man, this is rad!" you know, "it's like so crazy," like, you know, "he's so rad!" and this is, like, all this... you know, like, "It could be really cool." And I was like, "Oh, that's awesome!" you know, "Josh is a great drummer, it's going to be good for you," type of thing. You know, we're on tour. [?] often was doing that for a little bit and then I went on tour with Primus in Australia, we were doing a little Australian tour, and I had called Bucket just to see how he was doing and he was like, "Dude, you know, Josh just quit," you know, "you should play in this," and I was like, "Meaning Guns?" you know, and he was like, "Yeah," and I was like, "Oh, that's kind of heavy, okay," you know. So it was kind of like he was trying to push me into that thing and I guess telling Axl, and he gave Axl some tapes or something or whatever because I think Axl had already seen me play. And new Primus was kind of like a musician's bands, like I think he knew I could play the drums. So he was kind of interested in it. So I was like, "Okay, well, when I get off this tour," you know, "yeah," you know, "maybe I'll check it out." And then I got home and then like I don't know like three or four months went by, didn't hear anything. And then, you know, I got a call - I think it was from Tommy Stinson or whatever - and he was like, "Hey man, we need a drummer, what are you doing?" and I was like, "Um," you know and he, you know, was just like, "You know, everybody wants this gig, you know, Kenny Aronoff's knocking on the door but, you know, Buckethead says we should check you out, like who the fuck are you?" you know, because Tommy was that kind of punk rock, you know, attitude thing. And then he found out I played with Tom Waits and he loves Tom Waits so then he started being cooler to me, you know, he was kind of like... and, you know, since then we're friends and everything, I love Tommy and whatever. But I remember at first he was like, "Okay," you know, "who the fuck are you? You gonna come down and check this out?" you know, "What are you doing?" like that kind of a thing. And so I was like, "Well, yeah, I'll come and check it out but I don't know if I want to jam on Sweet Child O' Mine, you know, and those kind of things, I'm not going to come down and audition." And, you know, they were kind of taken back and they're like, "What do you mean? Like, this is like, you know, like Guns N' Roses, dude," you know, and I was like, "Well, that's cool and everything but I don't know, I just don't...I mean, you know, what, I'm gonna come and just jam on these songs? I know them, whatever, who cares?" you know. I wasn't trying to be a dick but I was really like, "Well, I could go either way," I mean, you know, I didn't really care at that point, I was getting kind of burned out on playing anyway, I had just been on tour and I was just... I thought maybe I was better than I was or something, I don't know, so I just kind of blew it off in a way. And then they called and said, "Why don't you come down to the studio and just play on some tracks, you know, some of the tracks that we have? Will just check you out."
So, you know, I got a call from the manager and they gave me like a first-class ticket from San Francisco to LA and - am I talking too much, it feels like I'm talking-

Brando: No! I'm loving all of this.

Art: This is great, no.

Brando: Yeah, you're a great guest, so far. Heh, so far.

Brain: Yeah, because, you know, it's a funny story but it's kind of like, yeah, you know-

Brando: -I'm hanging on every word, my friend.

Brain: Heh, well, they called me up, you know, the management calls me up, is like, "You know, dude, this is Guns N' Roses and, you know, we're going to get you first-class ticket from here to LA," you know, they they got like a car to pick me up, like one of those S550 something, you know, Mercedes, and, you know, black car, and, you know, drove me to the airport, they picked me up from the LAX... No, I think we flew from Burbank because we were ar Rumbo at that point and that was in the Valley. Yeah, I remember, so, you know, they picked me up, you know, I go to the studio, you know, there's Robin, you know, who I'd never met, you know, for Nine Inch Nails, you know, he's sitting there and Bucket wasn't there yet, I don't think. And so the first person I met, I remember meeting Robin with his crazy hair and I'd seen him in Nine Inch Nails but I didn't, you know, he just had like his whole head was shaved except his sideburns, he had these long, like, you know, Amish eyeburn [?] type eyes. I was like, "Oh shit, this is getting weird," you know, "this is kind of crazy." And then I met the producer Sean Beaven who was really cool and then Roy Thomas Baker... Roy Thomas Baker wasn't there yet, I don't think. Yeah, I think it was still Sean Beavan. And so, you know, I go into Rumbo and, you know, they asked me to join, you know. They had some track set up and they were playing, you know, I was playing, you know, and doing my thing and Chris Pitman was there, then he showed up and then I think Tommy showed up, you know, because they all came to say like, "Okay, who is this Brain guy that Bucket keeps talking about?" So I was kind of put on the spot. And then it got heavy because all of a sudden I'm like playing on one of the tracks, I look over and it's fucking Axl sitting in the control room and I was like, "Oh shit!" like, "There's Axl!" like, "this is real now," you know, "Holy shit!" I kind of froze up, you know, and I was like I didn't know what to do and then they're like, "Hey man," you know, "come in," I was like, "Okay," and I knew that it was because Axl wanted to meet me. And, you know, he was super cool but that's when I knew the shit was real because, you know, he kind of had the presence of, like, you know, you're just like, "Oh shit, now it's real," like I was talking shit before because, you know, I wasn't really talking to the man but now I'm talking to the man, like, here he is, you know? And he just was asking me what I've been doing and and stuff and he was super cool. He even said to me - I'll never forget - he goes, "Yeah dude," you know, "Hey, if you want this gig you can have it and you can still play in Primus or Tom Waits or whatever you want to do, is just, you know, you got to let us know and we're first." I was like, "This is the fucking coolest guy ever!" Like, you know, I get that if I can do that and then, you know, and then I was like, "Alright, let's do this," you know. And then we started rehearsing for that first Rock In Rio gig.

Brando: Okay. Do you remember the song, though, before we get to Rio, what was the song that you played for him, do you remember?

Brain: Yeah, it was that... Oh shit, I don't know if it ever made it on Chinese. I'm kind of embarrassed that I can't even remember if it was on Chinese. But it was a song Mother Goose had written and it was kind of a punk rock song. I forgot what the title of it at that point was. I don't think it was the working title, it was just the one that they... what they were calling it while we were doing it, but it was definitely something that was supposed to be on Chinese.

Brando: It wasn't like The Blues which changed into the Street of Dreams, it wasn't anything like that? It-

Brain: -No. It wasn't The Blues. It was kind of a fast punk rock kind of feel. It might have been Prostitute.

Brando: It might have been in the early version of it cuz that's not a fast song.

Brain: Yeah, but I remember the name Prostitute was up. And I did a couple. I did like three. But the one that I kind of choked on when Axl walked in was the fast punk rock one. If I remember what it is I'll try-

Brando: Send me the email? [laughs]

Art: I have a question. Sorry to jump in. I'm wondering like so you get a call, you're in the airport, you're going to play for Guns N' Roses, obviously it didn't feel like fully real until you saw Axl Rose, the man, in the studio, but did you sort of prepare by listening to any sort of material of past GN'R drummers? Were you sort of trying to get into the zone of being a Guns N' Roses drummer, or did you just go there saying, "I'm going to give them me, if they like me, great"? Or were you trying to kind of customize your approach to GN'R?

Brain: Well, no, dude, it's hilarious because I actually... I think because it was so big I just didn't let it sink in, like, I didn't, like I said, these were the steps building up to, like, when I saw Axl then I thought, "Oh shit! That's the dude that I watch on TV with a feather boa and screaming and throwing the mic down." You know, that's why I was into him. I was into that he's [?] that, and the shit was crazy, because I was always into the, you know, chaos killer [?], chaos never dies vibe, you know, [?]. I was just always, like, into the whole thing, you know, the mystique of it and everything. So when I saw him I was like, "Oh shit!" you know, with his rings and shit, I was like, "Okay, the heavy's here," like, "Okay, this is where it gets deep." It started catching up then. So no, dude, I didn't have any preparation, I just kind of showed up like, "Oh, whatever!" you know, didn't rehearse, didn't know one Guns song, nothing.

Brando: Amazing.

Brain: And that's when it started to get funny because after he told me that he kind of just said, "Okay, you're the guy," I was like, "Oh, okay." So that's when the shit started going, "Okay, now it's like talking to management, okay, we're rehearsing at Centre Staging," you know, "Get all your gear here, we're starting this," you know, "three months of rehearsing before we go play our first show in Rock In Rio," and and that kind of shit. And that's when I started going, "Oh shit!" So I call my tech to bring this drum set, and it's kind of my Primus fusion kit, and, you know, we're setting up - I'll never forget - I go to the first rehearsal, Tommy Stinson walks in and I have my mic stand and it's like - not my mics stand, I mean my cymbal stand - and it's kind of set up kind of like Neal Perthish with like, you know, like a giraffe it's got the boom stand and it's kind of sticking out, and Tommy walks in and he takes off his coat he just puts it on the boom stand, you know, like, "Oh, okay, you fucking dick!" So we started playing and we were just jamming, more jams, I didn't really know the songs yet and, you know, we started playing the songs and doing the shit, and then I remember - I'll never forget it - all of a sudden it's like the bat phone rings and it's kind of like, "Tommy," you know, "there's a phone call for you," and I knew it was Axl. And I can kind of see Tommy looking over whatever and talking, you know, was kind of like it was... I couldn't hear what he was saying but I can, you know, I was just kind of like vibing the whole thing and basically [?], "He's here but he doesn't know any of the songs and I don't know what the fuck's going on, dude, who is this guy?" But Tommy was like, he's like, "Dude," like, you know, "What [?] like your setup [?]," like, you know, and, "you don't know any of the songs, like, dude, you got to get your shit together or I'm just going to tell him, you know, you can't pull this," or whatever. And I was like, "Oh shit, okay," I go, "Dude, give me fucking, give me two days, I'll be back in two days, just give me fucking two days." So I tell my tech, "Look I want a bottom type setup, I get this now, no fucking boom stands, no..." And that's when I started doing, Art, what you're asking, you know, I started to get my shit together. I learned every fucking song that they wanted me to learn, I sat there for night and day with headphones and a pad at the fucking hotel and learnt every break, every thing, had my tech set [?] a whole different kit. We showed up, this time Tommy couldn't put his fucking coat on my cymbals down because it was smooth like bottom, straight [?]. I fucking just, you know, first song I just went as hard as I could, just went cra... you know, I knocked over like two cymbals, I just hit every drum like I was going to kill somebody and Tommy just looked at me and was like, "You got the gig, let's go get a drink!"
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2018.01.11 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Brain Empty Re: 2018.01.11 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Brain

Post by Blackstar Thu Jun 29, 2023 3:28 pm

Art: Oh, that's bad ass.

Brain: "Oh, now this shit's serious, I get it. There's no more fucking around," you know what I mean? And I just remember we went out had a couple drinks and just kind of hung out. He was just like, "Right on!" you know, I was like, "Cool," you know. And then I had to start, you know, getting my shit together and really learning, and getting even better, you know, and stuff like that. That's what I was getting talking about earlier where you're asking me, 'do I refine myself?', you know, 'do I think about it and make a setup for it?' and, you know, yeah, I do, like in that particular thing I was like, "Okay, I get who I got to become now." And then I really listen to the songs, especially Appetite and I was like, "Shit, this is orchestrated shit!" like, "This is," like, you know, "this is good," like, "shit, the way it's moving and the way the drummer moves with every..." it's not just like, "Okay, somebody play one groove and you're just gonna jerk off over it [?]." There's parts and there's things, you know what I mean? And I remember I always had trouble with Out To Get Me or whatever that's the name of that song or whatever, because it had so many different parts I was like... you know. I don't know, and then from then on I took it serious and was like, "Oh okay, I get it," you know, "it's a different game now."

Brando: I know, Art, you have a question but before that I guess I want to say I relate to Brain, at least how I'm perceiving it, where there's a certain... I'd only go relate this to your, I don't want to say procrastination at least for me and I'm smart enough and talented enough to get away with a certain amount, but there are times whether it being radio or school where I get yelled at, like, "You can do more," "You could do better," and I'm like, "Oh my god, oh shit, I got to get my act together otherwise I'm gonna lose my job," or, "I'm gonna fail this class," or something's gonna happen and then something clicked, so it just reminded me a little bit of my personality. Especially since the beginning where, you know, like, "I could do this, I can do that," and you just have the natural ability to be talented and do this but there's a certain point where, "Holy shit, I get a be better than I even have."

Brain: Yep. And then, you know, it even got scarier because that's when it went to that next level where I really started listening to the album and the intricacies and I started kind of going, "Oh shit, okay, no wonder they're huge," you know what I mean? It's like, you know, "These are fucking great songs!" and, you know, they're timely[?], you know, so I was just kind of like, "Uh-huh," you know. So Primus is even kind of like, you know, I mean, there's, you know, some of that shit that Let's Get On and Stuck On This and all that the first stuff was pretty orchestrated and pretty, pretty, you know, like, there was parts and stuff like that, but a lot of it was like you can kind of let loose within it. This was like, well, you gotta let loose because you want that kind of feel that Adler had, but you also gotta play the right thing because the fans know, you know, they're not just going, "Okay, they got Brain in the band now so we want to hear..." you know, they could give a shit, you know, as long as Axl and Slash is there, and Duff, I guess, I mean, does it really matter? You know, but so, you got to play it right, you know. It's like, "No, they want to hear the fill the way it was done on the album," and, "They'd like to hear the feel," you know, "the way it's done on the album because that's the way they grew up listening to it or are still listening to it." So those were the things that I was trying to cop, you know. The challenge became like, "Damn! He's like rushing the verse but he's laying back the chorus instead of the opposite," you know where people like Stewart Copeland rushes the chorus and, "Oh shit, he's laying the snare back, you know, just a little, you know, 20 milliseconds, you know, behind the kick and the hi-hat is cushioned on this one and it's stiff, he's not playing like 8th notes that accented a certain way, all accented the same." And, you know, those are the things I started writing down in my head and, you know, because I was schooled so I can see music going by as I'm playing, I started concentrating on I was like, "Okay, the goal here now is to kind of recreate what he did because, you know, there's maybe five fans out in the audience that give a shit about me but they're drinking, they want to hear the song the way it was on the album." So that became the challenge, you know. I started thinking like, "Okay, I want to play it exactly how he played it, you know, especially like on, you know, the first album." Matt Sorum's more of a metronome so his stuff was easier because, you know, I can do You Could Be Mine and it was like a drum machine, you know, [making drum beats], it was a straight, and his groove was straight, it sounded like they even played it to a click, you know. But-

Brando: I've heard that. It's awesome to hear that from another drummer. I always hear that about Matt Sorum, he's a drum machine.

Brain: Yes, he is. So it was easier for me because that's how I was brought up. I was brought up on the click, you know, schooled, practice through the drum click, and that kind of stuff. So his songs were easier to play. But the intricacies of, like, you know, and in the way the beats were played on Appetite, way different. You know, especially, you know, like it was so hard for me to get the feels, like Sweet Child O' Mine, I don't even think I still have it right, you know. It seems like the easiest beat but, you know, it is an easy beat if you just want to play it and be generic but to give it the swing and the flavor that it has on the album's is hard shit, you know.
That's the stuff that made it interesting to me because I was like, "Well, this is what makes it great," you know, "these are the things that make it great." And especially seeing it now with Slash and Duff, I mean, I'm just like, "Okay, I get it." Slash is great for a reason, you know, like he gives it the thing. Now it's real.

Brando: Absolutely.

Art: Brain, you already sort of went over it but what I was wondering is, you know on that first record like it never felt like the drumming was never repetitive in the sense that he never played the same thing twice. He was sort of sloppy but in a way it added to the-

Brain: Yep.

Art: Was there a specific track, though, out of all those epic songs that you were like, "Man, I love this, this is the funniest song for me to play," the one that you actually felt like you can kind of have the most fun with?

Brain: Rocket Queen, probably. You know, I love the ending and all that stuff. That was my favorite one. And it kind of had a funk groove, you know, or whatever. But I think that you're absolutely right, dude, and how you're describing the way that first album, it's like it feels like it's the same but it's not, you know. Where on the Illusion I was like, you know, Matt Sorum, it is kind of the same and it's great playing and it's solid but it's just a different feel. It's easier for me to do that because that's naturally... it's, you know, I could pick up on it and do it. Where, you know, Steve, I guess, with Adler he's just playing who he is. you know. It's like Zeppelin or something, you know what I mean? I mean, like, yeah, I think [?] never be the same as Bonham because I guess I'm not a fucking bad-ass drinker that has a cool car, you know.

Art: All those various GN'R drummers brought something very unique to the band. Like, I mean, Adler and then Sorum, and then I guess Josh to some extent on Chinese [?] I think he recorded like I guess like 80% of the record before you sort of brought your changes to it all. Was there something that you felt like - and that it's hard to talk about your own drumming in sort of a way feel awkward - but was there something that you think you brought to GN'R that was different and unique? Sort of your trademark that's left in some of the songs and the live performances that you were part of?

Brain: Well, it was funny because like with Chinese at first, you know, Josh is a very linear drummer also, you know, he's probably like the best, you know. I can't think of a better drummer than Josh Freese. I mean, he's one of my favorite drummers. He's technical, you know, he's very technical and perfect. I mean, you know, with the Nine Inch Nails shit, I love watching those rehearsals on YouTube, you know, because he's playing with a click in the machine and it's like perfect, you can't tell the difference. And I guess that's how Sorum is a little bit, I guess, you know, I don't know Matt's playing that much except for that stuff. Josh, I followed for years and I just, you know, still talk to him and I feel like he's, you know... And I've seen him with Sting and Devo, he's awesome, you know, or whatever. But when I first joined, yeah, I'd say about 80% was done and Axl was like, "Well, I want to see what you can do to these things." And so, you know - and it's a story I told before in print, I don't know if I've said it in a podcast - but, you know, it was like at first he was like, "I like Josh's parts and playing," so I was like, "Then what do you want me to do?" you know. And Axl's like... I'll tell you a story about what happened in a second and just blew me out, but before it, you know, Axl was like, "Well, I want to see what you can do but with Josh's parts," and I was like, "Wait, so you want me to play his part but with just, you know, I'm playing it? Replaying it?" He was like, "Yeah." So I went to like Sony Music cuz I was like, "Dude, I can transcribe this but that's like a full-time job to transcribe all this stuff," so I went to like the orchestrator at Sony Music and I remember dropping off a bag of CDs and just saying, "Can you orchestrate all this stuff, write out all the drum stuff, even the crazy solo at the end of..." Fuck, what's this, sorry man, I'm drawing a blank at the song off Chinese but there's that cold [?], crazy solo... not solo but it's kind of like a very, you know, it's like a drum part at the end of a... I can't remember the name. Maybe you guys will-

Art: Is it Better by any chance?

Brando: I'm going through-

Brain: It's not Better.

Brando: It's not Prostitute? Cuz I'm thinking about the way that ends.

Brain: No, it's not that part. It's the end of...

Brando: I go through the whole track... I.R.S.? Riad? Sorry?

Brain: No, it's not Riad. That all of them?

Art: Madagascar?

Brain: No, is it the end of like... If The World?

Brando: Maybe, that's a great tune.

Brain: Yeah, I think it might be at the end of that. But anyways, which is crazy so the guy transcribes all of it, right? And he gives them back and I literally had like huge, you know, like literally like a, you know, a six-foot chart above my head that I just learned to play all the parts, you know what I mean? Like literally note for note. I did it. And I was like, we did it in my feel, because my feel, what I think I give to it is a little different feel, it's a little more of a swing to the whole thing. So I think that that's where Axl was like, "Okay, I like Josh's part but I like the way you feel with his parts." So that's where I was like, you know, because Axl is, I mean, he is ridiculous. I mean, I'll never forget - here I go again, probably forgetting what song it was - because, you know, I mean, dude, I did that album for like six years, after a while every song and every title became the same-

Brando: Oh ,and you know so much, I mean, I can go through the track list thing if you want, there's Scraped, There Was A Time, This I Love, more songs you played on-

Brain: Oh wait, There Was A Time I think is the one that has the ending. Is that the one? That's not the piano with Axl by himself?

Brando: No, the piano is either This I love and Street of Dreams. There Was A Time-

Brain: There Was A Time, There Was A Time is the one that has the crazy drum thing at the end.

Brando: See, I just remember for that, and it relates to you and Bucket, that despite loving everything GN'R has done, that, you know, especially with Slash, the solo that Bucket does in There Was A Time might be my favorite all-time solo. I mean, it's insane. So whenever I think about song, I think of that solo.

Brain: Yeah. I mean, it's ridiculous but I thought Bucket played great on all the shit, you know, I mean, you know, just it's weird, I have a love-hate relationship with that album, you know. When people ask me, "Do I like it?" you know, yeah, I like it, but, you know, some of the process was pretty hard, you know, doing it. Because Axl wanted it to be so great that, you know, we had to keep pushing it and pushing the boundaries and, you know, he would just... and that was my story about, like, on the charts -  which he never saw the charts - on one of the songs it was, like, I remember recording the whole song with Roy Thomas Baker, you know, maybe spending three days on this song until we got the perfect tape because, you know, I had to play everything that Josh played exactly how he played it, and we finally got it. But I remember when we were listening to the playback, and this was like at two in the morning or something, I go, "Oh shit," I was looking at the chart, I go, "Dude, I missed this one kick drum right at the beginning of the verse," and we listened back and we're like, "Yeah, but you hit the cymbal and you hit everything and then you kind of come in there, I don't...you know, I mean, let's just send it to him and check it." You know, we send it to him, you know, he gets it around four o'clock in the morning, we get the call and it was literally, "Yeah, I liked it but I think Brain forgot to hit a kick drum at the beginning," like, he doesn't miss, I was like, "Holy shit! Again!" This gig kicked me out, like, he's not is not fucking around, you can't get away with shit. And it was like, you know, this like lightest kic, too, it was like, you know, three fucking peas [?] on the fucking quarter note, it was, like, just tap it, just, you know, a little tap. And I was like, "I just forgot to tap it," it's like, "Yeah, but Brain forgot to hit that," I was like, "Oh, this is some serious shit," like, he knows his shit, he's listening, not like the, you know, we're just sending it up there for no reason and shit, you know.

Brando: So when that stuff would happen would you... I mean, I want to ask it in a way that's... Did you like that kind of management? I guess a little bit within the band cuz again your having to get your shit together, you weren't sure at the beginning, did it make you up your game as a drummer? I mean-

Brain: Oh yeah.

Brando: -because that's all related to me, you know, when I've been on classic rock stations and if I slip up a certain word - I'm not talking like saying "fuck" -mispronouncing something or maybe say a joke that missed, you know, having my program director hotline me right away. And sometimes if they were a jerk program director that would piss me off and throw me off my game and sometimes I would appreciate it, be like, "You know, my next breaks gonna be even better," you know, "now I appreciate that immediate feedback."

Brain: Oh yeah, I respected the game, that mean of[?] the Guns N' Roses game, if you want to call it that, you know. I was like, "Oh shit, I see." Like, that you don't get here by fucking around. You know, and I was like... not that I was fucking around but I was like, "Okay, the attention to detail, with Tommy kind of pushing me and saying like, 'dude, come on!' you know, this is the real thing, dude." But I think it was my insecurities of myself, that was the way I can kind of like be like that... my way of blowing it off, "Ah, this is no big deal, it's just Guns N' Roses, who gives a shit? I'll just go out and bring in a fusion..." You know what I mean? That was my way I think of just dealing with it in general, just if we, you know, want to get serious for a second. You know what I mean? I think that was my way of just hiding that I was actually scared, like I was like, "Whoa! This is the business, I was on nine floor, now I'm on floor 11," you know-

Brando: That makes sense, like how I make a joke as a defense mechanism that doesn't mean like I think everything is funny but I'll either be nervous or uncomfortable so that makes total sense.

Brain: Yeah, so I think that that's where I knew I had to go and, you know, it pushed me and I just didn't, you know, I just, you know, I'd never seen, you know... even now, like, the last gig I saw and it was like, you know, I think they played for three hours and 40 minutes and then, you know, literally when I went backstage to say what's up to Axl he was like, "Yeah man, I think that was our longest gig, it was three hours 40 minutes, I'm gonna go for 3:45 tomorrow."

Brando: Wow.

Brain: You know, you're fucking... 3 hours and 45 fucking! Like, you know, I was like, "Okay," you know, I guess I was like, "He's constantly pushing, constantly testing," you know, it's rad and I like that, you know.

Brando: That is rad. So to go back just a couple steps, what was that first gig like? Cuz we got a lot of questions for you once we said we were going to announce you from our listeners and so one of them wanted to know what that first gig in Rock In Rio was like for you?

Brain: Well, it was one I think similar to what I heard, I think, Matt Sorum's experience was when I read a couple things, Axl had never sung with us for those three and a half months of rehearsal. You know, I think he showed up once and just kind of, you know, said a couple lines and I think he was just like, "That's enough," you know, or whatever. I heard it's different now but there it was like, "Yeah, man," it was like, "Okay, here we are, Rock In Rio, there's like 250,000 people out there." I had hung out with Axl a little bit, you know, in the studio, talked to him, you know, maybe two or three times during that three and a half months of rehearsing, short conversations, nothing serious, so it's like, "Here we are about to play our first show, the biggest show," and I'd never heard him sing with the band ever. So it was like half the shit, you know, I was like, "Hmm, I have to get queued on this, I wonder how he's going to queue it." So I was nervous, man, probably more nervous than I've ever been, you know, I remember that night at four in the morning just fucking punching the pillow trying to go to sleep. I wished I had Xanax then because I probably would have popped one. So you know, I was nervous, I was like, "Ah shit." We get there, you know, he's not with us so we're sitting back there and, you know, I'm talking to Diz and just going like, "Dude, fuck! I'm nervous, dude," and he's like, "Oh yeah, so am I," you know. I go, "Yeah, this is crazy," like, you know, "Where's Axl?" you know, like, he's not even there, he's on a helicopter coming in, you know. It's just a heavier...You're just like, "Okay, of course," you know. And then, you know, as, you know, we're walking up, you know, there again I see Taylor Hawkins, because they were opening earlier, I guess, or whatever, you know, and, you know, and he's like, "What's up, dude, you're gonna go play?" I'm like, "Yeah, I'm fucking nervous," you know, that kind of a thing, they're all watching, you know. We get up there and, you know, as soon as you hear his voice everything went away, I was just like, "This is awesome," like, "I'm in it, I got it, it works now, I hear it." Because before then you just didn't know, you know what I mean? Nobody's sung the lyrics we were rehearsing. It was just all, you know, like in my head, you know. I just hear Welcome To The Jungle as we're playing the part in the verse and, you know, in that part, whatever. And I remember fucking really I only fucked up one thing, I think it's even on the Rock In Rio video, it's on You Could Be Mine, the build-up after I do the [makes drumming sounds of the intro to the song], that part. I fucked it up - I didn't fuck it up, I'm gonna say this and I guess if he hears that, I don't know, maybe he'll never talk to me again. I didn't fuck it up, it was just he didn't come in right on the way we rehearsed it because I think he just maybe live he does it a different way but it was never discussed because no one discussed it. So I came in and I came in wrong and I'll never forget the fucking look, he turned around and he just looked at me like gave me the fucking evil eye and I was just like, "Dude, I've just been doing it like we rehearsed it, you're the one who fucked it up," like that's what I was thinking on stage but I was just like, "Oh my god, I fucked it up!" and he just looked at me like, "You fucking dick!" Like, that was funny. So that was sort of my first experience. I mean, it was pretty trippy not to hear any lyrics, you know, and be headlining the show and to play for like, I think we played for about two hours then or two and a half. It wasn't for three and a half hours they're doing now or whatever.

Brando: Did you lean on Bucket then since you guys were friends as far as.. I guess during the whole three months of practicing as far as where is he? Is this how things go?

Brain: No one knew, I mean, we were all doing it, this is all the first time. Before then Bucket was just hanging out the studio writing with them, like, you know, it was like Bucket's week or two weeks to come in and play on some of the songs that had been recorded already. So when I was out with Primus, Bucket was, I think, just doing that stuff. Nobody had started rehearsals until I came in with Tommy that one time and then we started it. So this was new to everybody.

Brando: Oh, wow, okay.

Brain: Nobody knew he was never gonna show up, you know. Except Diz, because Diz has been through both things, you know. He was through the very first time and then this time, in the Matt Sorum era, too, right? I think he was.

Brando: Yes.

Brain: So he kind of knew. So everybody would kind of look to Diz and just be like, "So really, this is how it goes?" He's like, "Yeah, whatever," you know, he'd keep drinking his Jagermeister and eat his powerbar and be like, "Yeah, what do you mean?" And I'll be like, "Oh shit," you know.

Brando: That's too funny, man, that is too funny.

Art: Did you and Buckethead ever sort of have a night together or like have a, like, you know, outside of the studio conversation or like break down some of the songs together, kind of find out different ways to change them or have a conversation about any of the tracks and your sort of unique changes you guys? Cuz I feel like you guys were creative partners and had a unique language that you could talk to each other with if you kind of ever like... did you two ever sort of step aside and do your own thing and try to figure out what you can do these songs and change them or anything?

Brain: Yeah, I mean we did because, you know, we were writing together for the album, you know. We did Shackler's and I'm Sorry. So as far as the album, yeah, we were really working hard as trying to write some new songs, do some different stuff. As far as the live stuff, not really, because I kind of had my own way of approaching it and he was dealing with the two other guitar players, you know. I think Paul Tobias was the first one that was there so he was there all at first and then, you know, Axl got rid of Paul and then we got Richard because he was Tommy's friend and, you know, then he was dealing with them and Robin. So he was kind of had to be, you know... I think that was tough for Bucket because Bucket, you know, was his own thing, you know. Obviously, you know, doing his own thing now and he's got his own thing and he can play in front of a thousand people every night just solo, you know, with the iPod. He just solos because he's so talented. It was hard for him because, you know, it's like... I don't even think he likes guitar players, really, you know what I mean in that sense? I think he does it because he's great at it and he likes to, you know, but he doesn't like to talk to other guitar players, he just does his own thing. So I think that was the hard part about it because it was like, "Oh, now you have to sit there with other guitar players and learn parts," and, "Okay, why don't you play this part and then you'll play that part and then I'll play this?" I think it was hard for him.

Brando: So the songwriting process was difficult. Was it difficult for you then with Guns? I mean-

Brain: No, because I'm the drummer and there was no other drummer. And I think that it was easier because I was just like, "Okay, I know what I have to do and everybody's counting on me to hold the time down and that's my job," so you know what I mean? But for Bucket it was like, you know, maybe he wanted to play this other part and he was realizing that, "Oh, I get it," you know, "Richard wants to play that," and he's a nice guy, he doesn't want to step on any toes so he's not gonna fight for it, and then it's like, "What? Now we're fighting for parts?" you know. It's stupid, you know what I mean? Now it's like easy because it's like, "Well, hey Richard," you know, "you're just gonna play this because I'm fucking Slash, I'm gonna play," you know, "this is my part." [laughs] You know what I mean? It's easier but there it's weird, you know, it's like you have three people kind of competing-

Brando: Because it was a new thing.

Brain: Yeah, and no one knew it was happening, really, because it was kind of like, "Okay, there's three guitar players and they're all new and they've never met each other before and now we got all work together," plus, "you got to play," you know, "I want to play this," and, "who gets to play the beginning of Sweet Child?" you know, the funniest part, so.

Brando: Then what [?] I guess awareness of the actual Chinese record because, you know, there was obviously a major chunk of time where Guns N' Roses fans like me and Art and just craving anything, you know, going on mygnrforum and, forgive me, I actually found my original Napster leaks of Chinese Democracy, sorry, I did buy the record after the fact, so, and the vinyl, so you have my money. I guess I'm wondering, did you know the controversy or maybe the jokes that, like, this is never gonna come out and did that bother you? Or you were just like, "I'm in it, I know what's going on, I'm gonna do my thing"?

Brain: Yeah, you know, I didn't know, because in that time we, you know, were just there at the Village and we were in our own little bubble. The only person that would come and listen to the album was Jimmy Iovine. That's the only person I think Axl will talk to you about it or whatever, so it's just kind of we're in our own little bubble and I mean, I guess, towards the end it started to get a little ridiculous because, you know, that's when I start when I came out of the recording and I just started like hanging out again. And I think what happened was I did the recording and then Tom Waits asked me to play on that Real Gone album and so I went back up north for about three months and recorded with Tom and then Guns wasn't doing anything and then Tom said, "You want to go on tour?" and I was like, "Yeah, okay, I'll go on tour." And that's when we were in Europe a lot with Tom and a lot of those fans, you know, their fanatical, they would come to the show and they would know that I was in Guns and they would kind of like, you know, be like, "What the hell is going on, you guys?" and I started to think like, "What is going on? This is ridiculous," you know. But when I was there recording, no, I was just like, "Oh shit, this is a big thing, this is kind of rad," you know, it's like, "This shit has to be killer," like, you know. I'll never forget, we were at the Village and we're in the front, the main room where they did, I think, Rumors so it was like Studio A, I think, it was the big room I guess and, you know, we were setting up the drums and I was like, "Whoa, wait a second," I go, "dude, this is Guns N' Roses, you know, like, I said to everybody and I was just like, "Dude, we can't just record here, like, we got to fucking like, you know, like, we got to do something rad or whatever," and I remember the studio owner, Jeff Greenberg, who became good friends, you know, he brought me into his office and he's like, "What's up?" you know, "Do you need a new tech? Do you need new drums or whatever?" I'm like, "No dude, we need to record in a rad place, I mean, this is Guns N' Roses. Really, I'm just going to record where every other Joe Schmo sets up?" He's like, "Hold on, there's an auditorium upstairs that was an old Masonic [?]", and I'm like, "Okay," and so he's like, "You want to check it out?" and like, "That sounds better." And so we walked up there, he opened the door and it was like a fucking, you know, [?] or something, you know, just like it creaked open and it was just shit everywhere and it was just this, you know, really cool auditorium and I was like, "Dude, this is where we got, this is where [?] set up," [?], "All right," and they ran cables up and they cleaned it out, they built Bucket a chicken coop and, you know, like, "Now we're recording! This is now Guns N' Roses, this is cool now," you know. And, you know, he took pictures and it became kind of a famous thing that they built Bucket a chicken coop, you know, to do his guitar stuff, and they did. And then my drums are set up in this auditorium and they just ran cables up there and had TVs and shit for us to talk back and forth and stuff like that.

Brando: That reminds me, I think that's why I heard about Bucket trying out for Ozzy and that sort of was, it was the chicken coop that Ozzy didn't want to have. But Axl was cool with it.

Art: Probably.

Brain: Yeah [laughs] right. That's what's rad about... I think he loves it when it's rad, you know, he wants it to be rad, too, you know, so he didn't say, "Don't do it," he was like, you know.... cuz in the end I'm sure everything goes to him, you know what I mean? I mean, it's like he's the end, he's the last, you know, dude that you have to go through. So they probably just said, "I don't know, sounds good to me," you know, like, "Why not record up there? Does it sound good?" you know, and it was like, "Yeah, sounds amazing," like, "Okay." Cuz really down in Studio A is cool, you know, it's great, but I was just like, "Dude, it's got to be better than this," you know what I mean? Like, "Anybody comes here to record, where has somebody not recorded in this building?" you know. So it was this kind of like, "Okay, now we got something going." So I think that's what I loved about it was that it was just on that level, you know, like Axl even like this last time I saw him and he was saying that he wants to, you know, play 3 hours and 45 minutes on the next show like, you know, it's just he's going, man, he's not stopping, I mean, you know, it's pretty rad.

Art: Brain, I was gonna ask you, in your involvement on Chinese or in GN'R are in general just over the years, what is the one thing as a musician that you're the most proud of? Like the one thing you want people to remember or that you were really sort of proud of that you might not have talking about before?

Brain: As far as a drummer on albums and - is that what you're asking?

Art: Yeah, the drummer and as a musician, just being part of like rock'n'roll history in one of the greatest bands in history and just you're sort of like, you know, your your legacy, like, what's the one thing you're like, "Man, that's fucking awesome, I got to do that," and, "that to me I'm really proud of that."
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2018.01.11 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Brain Empty Re: 2018.01.11 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Brain

Post by Soulmonster Sat Nov 04, 2023 11:26 am

Brain: Well, I guess it goes back to what you said about versatility, I mean, you know, I think that's what I'm proud of is that people could say that, "Oh shit, yeah, he played with Tom Waits and made that Real Gone album and shit that was badass, oh, and he played on Chinese Democracy and that was badass and he was on that Primus the Brown album and that was a sick sound and that was pretty cool," you know, "that was rad, dude." I guess, you know, in the end that I'm proud that I didn't stick with one thing, you know, and kind of just went with my heart when I kind of felt like things were burning out for me and I couldn't give it a 110 percent. You know, I felt like, "Well, maybe it's time to move on now," you know, financially as I'm getting older I don't know, you know, would it have been great to have played with Slash and Duff? Fuck yeah. You know, I mean, I wish I was on that because I really feel like, you know, that's the real deal and I would have loved to play with them, you know, on that thing. So I guess if I would have stuck with it I would have done it. And, you know, with Primus I feel like, you know.... Yeah, I guess my only regret is I feel sometimes like, "God, I wish I could just go back and be in it again," you know, or whatever. But in the end, to answer your question, that's the thing I'm most proud that I did do a lot of different things and I did it as the real deal felt like, you know. Like, you know, you listen to Real Gone and you listen to the drums on that and the craziness on that album, with Tom Waits, and you wouldn't think that that's the same drummer on Chinese Democracy.

Brando: That's great and that's something... I said this to Alex Grossi from Quiet Riot and out now with Dizzy with Hookers & Blow - the band, not the activity - maybe-

Brain: Yeah, I love Alex.

Brando: Oh yeah, so Alex, I said this to him because he's been on a lot of projects and I use a lot of sports analogies that you have an amazing back of your baseball card, that's how I look at it. I mean, you can have somebody like a Cal Ripken who spends his entire career with the Orioles and, I mean, take away cuz the PDC Alex Rodriguez but you know he had great careers with Seattle and Texas and the Yankees of course, so it's just, you're making your legacy in different areas.

Brain: Yep, I mean, that's it one thing I want to say really quick - and Dizzy will be the first one to say this - is I came up with the name Hookers & Blow. I just wanted to put that out there.

Brando: Whaaaat?

Brain: He knows it, too.

Brando: Alright.

Brain: [?] that was my joke every time we'd be done with the gig, I was like, "Alright dude, here's time get some hookers and blow," and then he was like, "I'm gonna use that for my band name." And I guess now he told me, the last time I saw him, he's on the bus, they got the "Hookers & Blow" like, you know, rap, it I said "Hookers & Blow" on their fucking bus, he was all excited. I just saw him about three weeks ago. That's my claim to fame, that's what I'm most proud of, actually.

Brando: Alright and now we got to, I think, the most salacious fact that Dizzy has been going around lying, saying that he came up with "Hookers & Blow" because that's what Alex said. He's like, "One day," he's like, "Dizzy just called me and I was like, 'Yeah, that's a cool name,'" but now I know that Brain came up with it. So a name for a reason, Brain.

Brain: You better fucking take it back and he knows I did it. That was my thing, I always used to joke with that, yeah. He'll admit to it if you put him on the spot.

Brando: [laughs] Well, if I ever get him on the podcast I will definitely ask him for that.

Brain: Yeah, right on.

Brando: I know we've... you've been awesome and we've been going a while but I guess like a few things that we did touch on earlier that I definitely want to get to this this episode were the remixes which we had the pleasure of seeing you perform with Melissa at the Clippers halftime and I believe the Rockets halftime show. So tell us a little bit about the project Melissa and Brain and how those came about, those halftime shows, because they were amazing. I want to see more of that. I would see a show, absolutely, of Brain and Melissa.

Brain: Oh, that's rad. Well, thanks. Yeah, well, it's funny because I don't think I was out of the band yet, you know, when I left the band, I think it was right before. Caram, you know the producer and who was the engineer when I first got there for Roy and then when Roy got fired Caram became the producer. Him and Eric, the other, you know, Eric Caudieux, who's the other producer - I hope I'm saying his name right - and I love both of them, I mean, they're still both close friends. You know, they were like, "Hey," you know, "do you want to take some of these stems and do some remixes?" and I was like, "Okay, yeah, that sounds fun," like, "bring your MPC to the studio and let's just fuck around and do some rad shit," you know, "Axl wants to," you know, "have you just do some different stuff on these things on the Chinese songs," and I was like, "Okay, cool." So I go there with Caram and Eric and we just fuck around and we made, you know, If The World, we took Better, we took a couple others, you know, just other stems of stuff that we just had and just started making music and doing some cool shit. And then at that point I had met Melissa who, you know, kind of came into my life and and we were kind of like, "Hey," you know, "we kind of think alike," you know, she is like the Yin to the Yang. I kind of had all the drums and all that kind of shit down and the percussion and all the rhythm stuff and she had kind of the harmony stuff and all that kind of stuff and I was like, you know, I want to be a composer one day and she was like, "Well yeah, I mean that sounds rad, and," you know, "we should do some stuff," and I was like, "Yeah, I think we should." So we started doing some composing things together and just kind of producing some bands together, whatever. And at that point I was like finishing up some of the Guns stuff and I was like, "Hey do you want to play on some of this stuff and help me do some of it?" you know, and, you know, we started becoming Brain and Melissa's, like, composing team. And so she had played on some of the stuff and all that and then it kind of just went away, you know, the whole thing kind of went away. And then when Mother Goose... and then Caram and I, Caram we would still use as a mixer engineer kind of producer on some of the stuff that we were doing for composing, and so Caram would mix it for us and all that. So that's how Caram met Melissa and then when, I guess, Chris Pitman, you know, quit -Mother Goose-

Brando: What? Why is he going by "Mother Goose" by the way? Is that a known thing that I just don't know?

Brain: Yeah, I mean, Mother Goose was how I first heard his name, you know, it's like Buckets said, "Hey, there's this guy Mother Goose that's pretty rad," you know, "he's kind of like a synthesis type guy and there's all this crazy shit," and, you know, "I really like him and he's the one I'm going up to Axl's house with." So, I guess, you know, he was there since for a long time. And, you know, I don't know the intricacies of what happened, how he got, you know... chucked out or what-

Brando: "Separated".

Brain: Separated, yeah. And, you know, Caram was like, "Hey, what about Melissa?" you know, so Caram was kind of the one that spearheaded the whole like, "Hey, let's get Melissa in the band," or whatever. And at that point, you know, Melissa and I were together for a while and a couple but then we kind of realized that shit, being together and also doing music 24/7, the plane was about to fucking crash, you know. We were just doing this movie called Love Is All You Need - I think it's funny ironic, "Love Is All You Need" - and that's when it was like tough to like be together and working on a movie because working on movies is pretty stressful too, you know. You got the directors and staff they're [?], they're gone in their own way of like dealing with music and stuff like that. So it was a tough process. And so we were kind of, you know, parting ways as a couple and then Caram was like, "Hey," you know, "what about Melissa?" So Melissa goes there and, you know, hangs out and, I guess, you know, they liked her so she got in the band and she started doing it. And when the Rockets thing came up - that was the first thing that happened. Because when I was with her and working with her she would do national anthems anyways for some sports teams, you know, just some fools that we met around LA that would just be like, "Hey, I know the guy who's in Sacramento Kings and they need someone to sing," and, you know, and we were trying to do like an R&B thing with her own career. Like doing some stuff, like I would make some beats or, you know, we became friends with like Mannie Fresh and stuff from the whole Hot Boys crew or whatever. And, you know, so they were trying to make beats and stuff and she was trying to do this R&B thing and she was also singing at these national anthems sports events. So when this thing recently came up it kind of went down like this, it was kind of just like, I got a call from her and it was just like, "Hey, the Rockets want me to sing the national anthem but they also want me to do a halftime thing," and I was like, "Okay, well great, go do the half-time thing then, what do you call me for?" and then, you know, she was like, "Well, what do you think about doing some of these remixes?" and I was like, "What do you mean, the Guns' ones?" you know, "Well, yeah, because, you know, they're trying to promote the show, I'm in Guns," blah blah blah and I was like, "Well, I guess if Axl let us, that sounds interesting." You know, because I always wanted something to happen with those things. And she said, "Okay." So we kind of put a little medley together of I'm Sorry, we put a new beat to that, had the other one done but we kind of cut them up and kind of put them into like, okay, let's go now I'm Sorry into our own little thing that we did, this Kiss remix for, and we'll go into If The World with Axl. And we played it for him and he was like, "Yeah, go for it," so we're just like, "Oh shit, okay, this is rad, he's lit." And so, you know, we went and we kind of, you know, did what we did on that Houston show and then about two weeks later they were playing in LA and our agent Bryce, who's over at ICM, was like, "Hey, I think I can get you guys on the LA," you know, "Lakers with the Clippers halftime thing," and I was like, "Oh shit, okay, yeah, that would be cool," you know. We asked Axl and he was like - or I guess she asked Axl - and he was like, "Yeah, go for it." So, you know, we did it. I don't know, I mean, I thought it was cool, too, I mean, I would love to like do all of them like, you know, like have like... even at their shows, like the day before or something, like a festival, or do it later that night at a tent or something, you know. It's like, "Hey," you know, "two thousand people get to come to this tent and," you know, "listen to some Guns N' Roses remixes and we'll even do some more." I thought that would-

Brando: -That would be rad. You just the word of the day of the episode, "that would be rad." That would absolutely sell out in two seconds.

Brain: Yeah, you know. So I don't know what's gonna happen with it. It kind of just ended as we did that LA show and then they did their last show at the Forum and then it became, you know, the holidays came and it's just like that's where it ended up. But that's sort of how it became, you know, it got onto the half-time thing, it was through kind of Melissa singing the anthem then asking her to do it and then, you know, her suggesting, "Why don't we do these remixes?" And of course, you know, I mean, none of it would have happened if Axl didn't agree to it. He let us use his voice, so that's what was so dope about it.

Brando: I mean, I didn't realize how well she sings, I didn't know. I mean, obviously, I enjoyed... I've got to see the new Guns N' Roses were united, whatever, this past summer and the summer before, so I've seen her alive but to hear her kind of soloed out and sing I'm like, "Wow, I want to hear more of this," and to watch you, I mean, I'm not a fan of going to watch DJ play, I'm not into like, "Hey, press the button," whatever but you're like literally Animal from the Muppets up there and it's a show and you don't have a kit. I mean, I didn't know where my eyes were, like, we're supposed to be... it was incredible so just the fact that you're able to do it a couple times and I hope it does continue and the fact that you're into it is even better.

Brain: Well yeah, cuz I think what you said is, I mean, just think if I brought a real drum set up there with it, too, you know, and one of the tracks I can play a full kit and then another track, you know what I mean? You do a little bit of cheese [?] DJ stuff and then, you know, and then go back and just kind of... You know, I think that it could really put a different perspective on the... I mean, it's just so rad that Axl is open for us to let us do this, you know what I mean? That's what I'm kind of blown out-

Brando: I think it's smart of him to be honest with you.

Brain: Yeah, I think it's rad because I, you know... So I think that if we... I would be into it, you know, it's just a matter of, you know, I don't know what their next steps are, what their touring again, you know what's happening.

Brando: That's awesome. You're open to it, though. I mean that in itself is still pretty cool and hopefully it does. Then I guess we're talking about, you know, that these remixes and you wanted them to see the light and they did. Are there other... is there other material that you recorded back in the Chinese days that we haven't heard yet? I mean, we've heard rumors, but do you know if you worked on anything that we haven't heard?

Brain: I know that I was on about six or seven other tracks that I'm not sure what happened to. And I'm not sure if, you know, if he's thinking about another Chinese from that era stuff [?], we can do some more remixes from even the existing stuff that I already played on, you know what I mean? But I don't know, I mean, I'm open for any of that especially on the remix tape [?] and all that stuff, because, you know, that's where my heart lies right now, you know. I mean, I'm doing this tour with Buckets and stuff like that and doing it but, you know, it gets tough on the level that I'd like to play on at my age, you know, I'm feeling it, you know, and touring, I mean, it gets... I was talking to Frank, you know, and I was like, "Dude, how do you," you know, and he's like, "I got a pace myself," and, you know, I can't just give it up, you know. But I'm kind of an idiot that way, like, I just like to give it all. I just, you know, I could just see myself after two hours just like, "What happened to Brain?" "Oh, he passed out, he's dead," you know. I don't know if I can pace it quite. Cuz it's it's crazy. But, you know, seeing that last show it was, you know, and seeing Duff and Slash and everybody, I mean, I thought it was, you know, it was amazing.

Brando: So you were at that last show at the Forum?

Brain: Yeah, I went to that one, yeah.

Brando: Was that-

Brain: -and I saw the Houston one and I saw a couple of others. But just seeing that show with Slash and stuff, I just, you know, and Duff, I mean, they're just so awesome, you know. It was sick.

Brando: Have you met them prior? Did you go as just a fan buying a ticket or do you know have your, "Hey, I was once in Guns N' Roses Pass, Access Pass" and you were able to-

Brain: Yeah, I mean, I'm still really tight with the, you know, people in the camp so, you know, as far as like being able to go they always hook me up, you know. I went to one of the rehearsals and stuff and I saw Slash and met him for the first time. I never met him before. And met Duff for the first time, you know. But Duff actually came to the show in Houston that Melissa and I did, you know, so that was cool, yeah. He watched it, or whatever, so that was kind of cool. And I think Dizzy was there and then Frank came and then, you know... I know a lot of the people still in there, Del, I mean, Del and I are, you know, I mean I love Del, he's like... I always consider him a friend whether or not I even had anything to do with Guns N' Roses or whatever, you know. So I feel like, you know.... And doing some of these remixes... you know, I've done some of these remixes I've always felt that connection is still there, you know, or whatever.

Brando: I hope it continues, I hope it goes to a point where we have Brain and Melissa playing this Super Bowl halftime show because we keep getting shit after year after year. I mean, they missed the boat not booking Guns N' Roses. I mean. Gaga is great but not booking Guns N' Roses, not booking Metallica so and that's-

Brain: Yeah!

Brando: And that kind of goes back to why - not to cut you off - and I'm curious what your thoughts are on this, and we talked about obviously Guns N' Roses but just the sound of rock and roll in general, where is it going? And when I interviewed London Hudson and Nico, you know, both 15 years old, I'm like what are your friends listen to? And they all listen to Soundcloud rappers. So I like how you and Melissa are different and I feel like you're putting a more modern spin on Guns N' Roses and the vibe and it's gonna, I feel, it's gonna continue the legacy after, you know, years from now, after maybe Axl dies or whatever - I hate to say that - but whatever he's all... but the brand will continue because it seems like the sound is somewhat - while it's keeping its core - it's evolving a little bit and that's why I like when people like you get involved in GN'R and Melissa where you're there for Guns N' Roses - it's Axl's show - but you're bringing this new direction and breathing this new life into it, and I feel like it's only gonna make it, it just makes it bigger and because I feel like it gives it more of a future, I feel.

Brain: Yeah, that's rad. I mean, because, you know, I mean, I'm a rock and roller at heart. I mean, you know, I grew up - that's like I said - those bands, the Ramones, you know, the Sex Pistols, all that stuff, I was big into all, every, you know, AC/CD, all that stuff that I talked about I was... that's my roots, I mean, that's where I come from. But, I have to admit, you know, when my nephew who's 18 and he sends me, you know, Lil Pump's new little Instagram jam with DJ Carnage, it's pretty cool. I even like... some of this is kind of sick, I'm gonna say it and I'm probably, you know, not every GN'R fans gonna dig that but I listened to it for more of not really... like I can bypass.... I listen to it for the energy in the same way as like how I looked at Jocko as never a jazz, you know, what jazz means, you know. It's more just I looked at him as a fucking kick-ass, you know, like bass player that was playing his ass off and it's like... Anyway, when I get that energy it doesn't matter what style of music it is as long as I know that that guy's in it, you know what I mean? Like, that he's ready to die for his instrument, you know what I mean? So it's like that's the part I get from it. And then I look at the challenge, how do you keep the integrity of some of these remixes with rock? Keeping the rock part but then adding elements of the new sound? Which, like I said my, nephew, yeah, he'll go to a Guns N' Roses thing but what did he listen to? He listens to SoundCloud rappers, exactly what you said.

Brando: I'm just wondering when that change is gonna happen? Like, I'm hoping it's gonna happen, I can't say when just because it's my love of this sound. But, you know, music is cyclical and there is always an element, or a base, of rock and every generation kind of changes it up a little bit, you know, Art has written as many articles about the state of rock, especially living out in LA with the rest of the hipsters who make fun of him for liking Guns N' Roses.

Art: Yeah, totally. No, I think the one point that I want to make really quickly about that is that what I love is, I mean, for me growing up and then discovering the Chinese Democracy era of GN'R which is kind of when I was in college, I loved it because - and this is speaks to you as well, Brain and Melissa and all the people that worked on that record - it was going away from traditional rock'n'roll, it was like the GN'R avant-garde record, but what was cool was, you guys on that record and Axl, managed to maintain the core essence of what meant to be a rock star, to create a rock album, it was dangerous, it was risky, it took chances, it never compromised for anybody except, like auteur like the Citizen Kane, and the band Axl, and, like, that's what it's missing the most to me from rock and roll, everyone's compromising, everyone's just being politically correct, everyone's kind of bending over for the corporations and the streaming fees and blah blah blah. But, like, that guy in that band and you guys on that record, I can't really think of a rock record ever since that, I mean, it's been like 10 years but, I mean, what's the last time.. what was the last rock record of the last 10 years where it was like people were talking about it, people were shocked by it, people were offended by it, or like hated it, loved it, and that to me is like the legacy of like you guys, because you brought something different. You guys didn't do a traditional rock record but you still have the edge of rock n roll which I think is completely gone in my opinion from music today.

Brain: Yeah, I mean, I agree and that's the part that, you know, I loved about being in the band. It was more about, like even what I said about even like that, you know, and I joke, I mean, I play that Lil Pump for my friends and, you know, they send me back like, "Boooo!" you know, and I'm just like, "Well, you don't see that it's just like, you know, like the attitude is..." He kind of reminded me of Axl back in, you know, when I first saw him with the feather boa like going crazy  and throwing the mic down and then jumping at the audience after somebody. I mean, that's why I got into it, it's not because I can play a fucking paradiddle, you know. So it's like, yeah, it would be great. I mean, I can't wait to see what he comes up with next, you know. I mean, [?] just a raw album again would be killer, you know, no click, you know, the band... it's a pretty big band now so I don't know how that work but maybe if he can just get five people in the room jamming and really have it, you know, back to playing again, I mean, those are my favorite albums, you know, still.

Brando: Right on. One last, I guess GN'R question for me, just I guess and then after we can wrap up as far as know what you have going on and I know you just finished a tour with Buckethead. Did we - and you don't have to answer it - did we touch on when you decided to leave because I know you said you kind of regret it. What was that decision like? Only if you can answer.

Brain: Yeah, it was all.. well, it's, you know, I was having a kid and it was interesting because for my own person... had nothing to do with Guns, you know, they're always good to me, they paid me well, you know, it had nothing to do with any personalities, really, for me, you know, that was in the band or whatever. It was more of a personal choice of, you know, I was having my first kid, I didn't want to miss that so it was right in the middle of tour so I left it, Frank took over for that month or whatever that was left because I had planned it that Frank would come in and he would do that. And then I was supposed to come back. And, you know, when they came back I went back and I did about six shows - I think it was six or seven shows - and I just remember on the last show I was this on stage and I think it was in Nightrain and, you know, when I was playing and I just was looking at the audience, looking at myself just looking at, you know, the whole situation I was like, "You know what? I can't put this shit [?] that this deserves," you know, I was like, "I don't have the energy for this," it's like, I don't know, "I just don't want to do this anymore." So I remember I got off stage, I think Tommy and I hit a [?], no, I'm just joking.

[laughs]

Brain: But I took that-

Brando: Brilliant!

Brain: You know, I went back to my hotel and I remember calling the manager at that time and I just said, "Dude, I just I can't do this, I can't, I can't do it for what it means," you know. And the reason why I regret it is because I think in that moment I wasn't thinking, you know, I was just in a weird head space and I wasn't thinking it fully through. I was just kind of thinking, being selfish for myself, and I, you know, and then I see... I don't know, I just was like, "I don't even want to play drums anymore," and I literally just stopped playing drums. I remember at that point Serge from System of a Down called me, you know, like after he found out I quit Guns and was like, "Hey, I'm doing this solo thing, would you tour with me?" and I was just like, "No." And I remember getting a call from that heavy manager from Korn and he was like - that's when Korn was still pretty big - and they were like, "Hey, you know the drummer just quit and, you know, Jonathan," you know, we had talked before, I had met him and he was like, "Hey, recommend you very highly and they want you to come and play or audition or do whatever," and I was just like, "No," and he was like, "What? You don't like money?" and I was like, "Well, yeah, I love money but I don't want to play drums anymore." So it was kind of that. I just said I didn't really want to play. That's sort of how I, you know, it wasn't anything to do with Guns, it was more just me, just going by just, you know, I want to try this composing thing. And you know what, I have to say composing is a lot harder than drumming for me, you know, it's like it hasn't been like, "Oh yeah, now the phone just doesn't stop ringing," you know, but, you know, I'm grateful. I mean, I've done some great stuff - I mean, we've done, you know, as the composing team with Melissa - done a lot of shit, you know, a lot of video games, done all the Joseph Khan's movies, we got that new one coming out called Bodied that's produced by him.

Brando: Oh, cool.

Brain: And that's supposed to be out this year, a video game called Cyberpunk, that's another one that we got going and-

Brando: -that's a good Billy Idol record.

Brain: Right. Yeah, so, you know, we got some good stuff, you know. So anyway-

Brando: I like it and I always say that it's not... because you mentioned the word 'selfish' - at all, because especially if you're having a kid, I mean, I don't have children but I've gone through some life-changing things where your priorities just change and if anything this just reflects more on your nickname Brain and how cerebral you are and not everything is just so obvious, you know, with everything with you, just like as far as, again, going in deeper and in talking about your thought process so that is a... I respect that decision. And then you're open and honest, and being how candid you are about the decision and how you feel now about it, so thank you for sharing that.

Brain: Yeah, well, thanks man, I mean, well, thank you, thanks for having me on, you know.

Brando: Oh sure, but before we go I want to catch up with everything that's going on with you now, cuz that's the most important thing, what Brain has now. So you just finished your tour with Buckethead, are you guys gonna go back on tour anytime soon or what are the plans now?

Brain: You know, I'm not sure. We kind of just said we wanted to finish this run of shows that we had up to the new year and we did a New Year's show and that was fun, and that was a last show that we did. Since then, you know, we don't really, we haven't talked about anything. I mean, you know, I would love to do more shows with Bucket, I mean, he's probably, you know, my favorite musician that I've ever played with and I consider him, you know, one of my best friends so that would be awesome, you know, to do that. And as far as that's for drumming, that would be awesome and, you know-

Brando: -before you get, and I'm sorry to sort of cut you off before that, how was he? If I can ask about Bucket, how is he feeling health-wise? Because I know he had a health scare.

Brain: Yeah, yeah, I think he's feeling better, you know, he's really trying to work it out and, you know, I think the thing is what his medication is where, you know, if he takes the medication I think he feels better but I think it also has some side effects and shit like that. So I think that's where he, you know, bums out and gets down on, you know, and stuff like that. But like I said, shit, it was like, what? 20-something years ago when we first met and, you know, we've had our ups and downs, you know, and stuff but, you know, it would be great to keep playing with him, yeah.

Brando: Well, I hope so because I want to have you guys out on the East Coast so I can watch you.

Brain: Yeah, yeah, I was hopeful we can hit the East Coast, you know.

Brando: Well, you never know. Then what else is other than... because you mentioned a lot of the composing projects and video games, anything else that we should be  on the be on the lookout for?

Brain: Yeah, I mean, right now I'm just, you know, trying to finish like... I really got into like some ambient music during - I know it sounds kind of weird - but during the composing, you know, like period of my life I really just started getting really into like Briony [?], you know, and, you know, like just kind of, yeah, I mean, I don't even want to go as far as like, you know, meditation and that kind of, you know, but, you know, I think that, you know, recently I've been kind of making a lot of, you know, ambient music that I want to put like some, you know, trippy beats to and stuff like that and kind of, you know, make my own, you know, SoundCloud. But it's not rapping, it's more like ambient trap music, I guess you can call it or something like that. So, you know, I've been working on that a little personal stuff but, you know. I really would like to get, you know, my goal, myself, would be really to get like a TV series. you know. I would love to do like an HBO series, be able to, you know, compose that, you know, like or whatever, you know, I mean, to me that would be that would be the ultimate goal.

Brando: Something like-

Brain: -on that side [?].

Brando: I believe Dave Kushner, of course in Velvet, he did the theme for Sons of Anarchy, so something like that?

Brain: Yeah, yep, yeah, like something like that and being even the composer would be the greatest, you know, for me because I've never done something like that where it's like, you know, weekly you have to kind of come up with music and, you know, it's a gig that, you know, like it's really stressful and hard for a certain period of time but, you know, I feel like that would be really fun. It's something I haven't done. You know, movies kind of spread over a long period of time, like in video games, like I think when we did Infamous, you know, that was like a year and a half of just like making music here and there and just spread, you know... I would like to have it, like, try it as a steady job for six months and see, you know, just like really get into composing. I just feel like it would kick my ass the way Guns did.

Brando: I love it, I can't wait to see what you have in store, what's gonna come out whether it be, you know, whether video games or the ambient music or working out with Melissa. Maybe eventually you do that remix thing you were talking about, kind of like a you set up your own little kiosk outside of a Guns N' Roses show. I can't wait. So how can fans keep in touch with you because I know you're not big on social media?

Brain: Yeah, yeah, I don't do it and Bucket doesn't do it either, that's the funny part is we just don't have it but, you know, I do have a website and you can go to it, it's
brainarcane.com.

Brando: That's how I got you, honestly, I mean, I was-

Brain: Oh you did?

Brando: Because it was one of those, like, I was looking for just an email address and it was one of those empty email forms to fill out, "Oh, he's never gonna get this," and then when you emailed me back-

Brain: I don't get that many people because it's so gone and, you know, my friend who is the... you know, I just love the site because it's so out that doesn't make any sense and it means nothing. You know, I have a friend who's the art director at Pixar and so he built that for me. He actually texted me the other day, he's like, "Dude, should we just make you a regular site so people can actually figure out it's you?" But, you know, like, "I just feel like, you know, it's holding you back from getting paid and that's just a failure," and I'm like, "No way, I'm just totally into the site, is my favorite thing, it just means nothing." And I get so many emails, like after these Buckethead tours, people trying to get a whole... you know, "Brain, I don't know if this is you because I don't understand this site but if it is..." you know, like that kind of stuff.

Brando: All right. Your next project is to get a new website.

Brain: You know, I'm going to start promoting some of the album's and shit on that site. And I'll probably end up doing social media this year. I mean, you know, my daughter's yelling at me and my nephews like, "Dude, come on man!"

Brando: Art, you have anything?

Art: No, this has been amazing. I mean, I would love to spend like three hours talking about Buckethead because we can talk about that all day, I mean, it's like what's your experiences in the studio with him, where do you think he stands in the pantheon of rock and roll? I guess for me it's like how do you feel, what's it like playing with him? What's the uniqueness of playing with Buckethead versus somebody else?

Brain: Well, he's just, you know, he's just the real deal and that's the part that I get the energy off of, you know. Like he really sticks to his, you know, his whole shtick and he doesn't try to compromise for anybody, and it comes out in his playing. And he is such a virtuoso that, you know, he kicks me in the ass. I mean, like Axl, he's very particular about... it's not just a free-for-all, you know what I mean? He'll be like, "Dude, that was too slow," or, "that was too fast," or, "hey, you played that part wrong, remember it goes like this," I'm like, "Oh shit, okay." So he's constantly, you know, keeping me on my toes and I think that's what I like about most of the player I've been lucky enough to play with, you know, some of the best players in the world. I mean, Les is like that, I mean, he's just a monster, you know, I mean, Bill Laswell, you know, and his whole crew of people, and Bootsy, and Tom Waits.

Brando: Next time - hopefully you come on again - I gotta talk to you some more about Bootsy Collins. I can't even imagine what it's like to be his friend.

Brain: I mean yeah. It's the sickest shit. I mean, you know, it's like on that world it's like, you know, how, you know, like an avant-garde guitar shredding or whatever it ends with Buckethead, you know, with funk, you know, the train ends at Lucy's place, you know, it's like you can't get better schooling than just being at his studio and playing with him, you know. And watching him play the drums, I've become a better drummer just watching him play the drums in his way, you know, like it just whatever he picks up it's beautified [?], if that makes any sense. "[?], that's how it's supposed to go!" "I get it," you know, like that.

Brando: I like that, that's funny. I think the most important thing that I got out of this interview with you Brain, I got a little bit a sense of it just through your emails and the way you write, that you, just like Art and I, you're just a fan who happens to be doing what he loves for a living.

Brain: Yeah, that's it, man. I mean, there's no other way to really say it, I mean, I think, you know, when you asked me about Bucket and the reason I love playing with him is because I'm a fan is and so I'm just happy to be there and I've been lucky enough to play with most of the people that I want. I mean, you know, I would have loved to play with Miles, I guess, or Prince, but besides that, I mean, the people I just mentioned, I mean, you know, I've been so lucky because I've been fans of theirs first, you know, and that's the part that that makes me keep going. That's why it was a weird thing, you know, when I went... I think I lost that when when you asked me like, "Why did you quit Guns?" Guns happened to be the band I was in, but I pretty much quit drums, drums is what I quit, you know. It just happened to be that. Because I wasn't a fan anymore. So I'm trying to get that back and I think that through playing with Bucket again is making me a fan again. So, you know, I've been practicing again and just getting into it, listening to the new kids [?] and all the Gospel Chops dudes and just like that.

Brando: That's great to hear and then top of being a fan I mean, the humaneness behind you is really shown through through this conversation so, I mean, I came in a fan and I'm leaving even a bigger Brain fan so this has just been, like what Art said, this has just been too cool. And the fact that you've allowed us to talk to you for a couple hours, I can't thank you enough. If any project or if you just want to talk about videogames you're always welcome to come on again. If you're ever in New York, we're in the same building as Q104n, Z100, you know, right here in Tribeca. More than welcome to come down, we don't have to talk about Guns N' Roses every time, anyone listens to the show still cares about what you have to say. So I just can't thank you.

Brain: Thanks, again, thanks, thanks again and I'll definitely, you know, I'll keep in touch if we decide to tour and when we're in the East Coast for sure.

Brando: Absolutely.

Art: Thank you so much for talking to us here, you're the greatest, man, really humble and really kind, and, you know, it's been an honor.

Brando: Ditto.

Brain: Thanks man, keep in touch.


Last edited by Soulmonster on Fri Dec 29, 2023 7:58 am; edited 15 times in total
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2018.01.11 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Brain Empty Re: 2018.01.11 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Brain

Post by Soulmonster Sat Nov 04, 2023 11:26 am

Excerpts from Alternative Nation:
----------------------------------------

Ex-Guns N’ Roses drummer Bryan “Brain” Mantia was recently interviewed on the Appetite for Distortion podcast, and he discussed regretting not being part of the Not In This Lifetime tour featuring the reunion of Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagan. Alternative Nation transcribed Brain’s comments.

“I guess it goes back to what you said about versatility, I think that’s what I’m proud of. People can say he played with Tom Waits and made that Real Gone album, and shit that was bad ass, he played on Chinese Democracy and that was bad ass, and he was on Primus’ the Brown Album and that was a sick sound and rad too.

I guess in the end, I’m proud that I didn’t stick with one thing, and kind of just went with my heart when I kind of felt like things were burning out for me, and I couldn’t give it 110%. I felt like, well maybe it’s time to move on.

Now financially as I’m getting older, I don’t know, would it have been great to play with Slash and Duff? Fuck yeah. I mean, I wish I was on that, because I really feel like that’s the real deal, and I would have loved to have played with them on that thing. So I guess if I would have stuck with it, I would have done it.”

https://www.alternativenation.net/ex-guns-n-roses-member-reveals-regrets-not-being-part-real-deal-reunion/
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2018.01.11 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Brain Empty Re: 2018.01.11 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Brain

Post by Soulmonster Fri Dec 29, 2023 7:58 am

Finally done with this. It was a marathon.
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2018.01.11 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Brain Empty Re: 2018.01.11 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Brain

Post by Soulmonster Sat Dec 30, 2023 8:59 am

I wonder what song Brain talks about here which he played during those first auditions:

Oh shit, I don't know if it ever made it on Chinese. I'm kind of embarrassed that I can't even remember if it was on Chinese. But it was a song Mother Goose had written and it was kind of a punk rock song. I forgot what the title of it at that point was. I don't think it was the working title, it was just the one that they... what they were calling it while we were doing it, but it was definitely something that was supposed to be on Chinese. [...] It wasn't The Blues. It was kind of a fast punk rock kind of feel. It might have been Prostitute. [...] I remember the name Prostitute was up. And I did a couple. I did like three. But the one that I kind of choked on when Axl walked in was the fast punk rock one.


A punk rock song by Chris, possibly not on Chinese? Any ideas?
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2018.01.11 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Brain Empty Re: 2018.01.11 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Brain

Post by Blackstar Sat Dec 30, 2023 11:56 am

Soulmonster wrote:I wonder what song Brain talks about here which he played during those first auditions:

Oh shit, I don't know if it ever made it on Chinese. I'm kind of embarrassed that I can't even remember if it was on Chinese. But it was a song Mother Goose had written and it was kind of a punk rock song. I forgot what the title of it at that point was. I don't think it was the working title, it was just the one that they... what they were calling it while we were doing it, but it was definitely something that was supposed to be on Chinese. [...] It wasn't The Blues. It was kind of a fast punk rock kind of feel. It might have been Prostitute. [...] I remember the name Prostitute was up. And I did a couple. I did like three. But the one that I kind of choked on when Axl walked in was the fast punk rock one.


A punk rock song by Chris, possibly not on Chinese? Any ideas?
Silkworms?
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2018.01.11 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Brain Empty Re: 2018.01.11 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Brain

Post by Soulmonster Sat Dec 30, 2023 12:56 pm

Blackstar wrote:
Soulmonster wrote:I wonder what song Brain talks about here which he played during those first auditions:

Oh shit, I don't know if it ever made it on Chinese. I'm kind of embarrassed that I can't even remember if it was on Chinese. But it was a song Mother Goose had written and it was kind of a punk rock song. I forgot what the title of it at that point was. I don't think it was the working title, it was just the one that they... what they were calling it while we were doing it, but it was definitely something that was supposed to be on Chinese. [...] It wasn't The Blues. It was kind of a fast punk rock kind of feel. It might have been Prostitute. [...] I remember the name Prostitute was up. And I did a couple. I did like three. But the one that I kind of choked on when Axl walked in was the fast punk rock one.


A punk rock song by Chris, possibly not on Chinese? Any ideas?

Silkworms?

Could be.
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