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Whether it's Spinal Tap gloriously losing the plot, the escapades of Tenacious D getting them into trouble, or the phenomenon that is Dethklok tearing up the album charts, comedy and heavy music have long made for great bedfellows. Jim Breuer is a man who understands this, and with Songs From The Garage, his first full-length with longtime backing band The Loud & Rowdy, he delivers both in his inimitable style. "I basically want the crowd to have a blast, and I write what I feel that I would love if Iwas in the crowd. So, going into the record the music had to be killer and have great hooks, that was most important, and I wanted to balance that with something that's funny," he enthuses. "I wanted to bring the smile back to hard rock that has a nice punch to it - and in doing so hopefully bridge the gap so my generation and their kids will come see this live together!"
In realizing this, Breuer has delivered a record that is pure, unadulterated fun, and yes, it rocks. From crunchy opening romp "Thrash" through the swaggering "Who's Better Than Us?!" to the gloriously deranged excitement suffusing "Sugar Rush", his exuberance is infectious, and he challenges you to keep your ass from shaking and the corners of your mouth twitching while it thunders from the speakers. Throughout, his influences bleed through, comfortably blurring the line between hard rock and metal while every anthemic chorus lodges irrevocably in the hippocampus. While a great many 'comedy rock' records are ultimately pretty throwaway and last as long as the joke stays funny, this is not the case with Songs From The Garage. True to his game plan, Breuer has made great songs, ones that persistently draw a smile and will fit comfortably when shuffled among the likes of Megadeth, AC/DC, Judas Priest and more contemporary bands, such as Avenged Sevenfold and Halestorm.
The inspiration for all of this comes from Breuer's adolescent immersion in the world of heavy music, falling in love with the aforementioned Priest and AC/DC, alongside the likes of The Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica and Van Halen. The fire to start a band was soon lit under him, though the flesh was not so willing to begin with. "I didn't pick up a guitar until I was older, I always wanted to be the front-man! I tried once and realized it was going to be a lot harder singing than I thought, I took singing lessons but never found a band that was into playing what I wanted to play," he says. However, while his standup career blossomed the desire to rock remained, and following a stint as a cast member on Saturday Night Live - during which time his character "Goat Boy" would achieve legendary status – he hit the road with a show that mixed comedy and the music he got a kick out of playing.
Backing Breuer up is The Loud & Rowdy. First hooking up with drummer Mike Tichy after a show at a local bar, he was soon introduced to bassist Joe Vigliotti, later reaching out to axeman Metal Mike to bring "that metal touch", and cement their lineup. Initially known as the Jim Breuer Band, without even having a record under their belt it did not take long to turn a lot of heads - and start them banging - and they soon found themselves on some pretty massive stages, including Rock On The Range, Metallica's Orion Music Festival and the mother of all metal gatherings, the Wacken Festival. "Wacken blew my mind! I couldn't believe that people from Germany would not only understand me but get into everything I was doing! When we played the Metallica festival both days I was taken aback by the crowd that showed up to our set. I was doing stand up and band songs/bits that I did in the early 2000's, and they were 100% into it the whole way through. The second day, there were more people and they were mouthing the lyrics and anticipating certain choruses as we were going into them! That's when I knew: if they are going this crazy over stuff they've never heard - imagine if they knew what we were doing because we had a record!"
With the impetus there, the band headed into three different studios (Metrosonic Studios Brooklyn, Clear Track Studios, and Sonic Debris Recording Studio), teaming up with none other than former Anthrax guitarist, current guitarist/producer of Volbeat Rob Caggiano, who has previously handled production duties for Bleeding Through, Cradle Of Filth and Chthonic, among others (and who sternly prevented Breuer from renaming the group Jim Breuer And 'The Breu Creu'...). Musically badass, each of the eleven songs tracked feature lyrics that are not only funny but also relatable, reflecting his position in life: "A dad with three kids who loves family life yet is still a metalhead at heart." His metalhead conviction is never more pronounced than on the riotous "Old School", which name checks fourteen bands who will be with him until the day he dies, while his family life takes center stage on "Raising Teenage Girls". Recounting "every weekend of my life with my teenage girls", it's something every exhausted father will relate to, and this is also the case for "Sugar Rush", which has a Scorpions' "Dynamite" rapid-fire sound to it. "It touches on every birthday party, Halloween, and any other event where kids are stuffed with sugar - which leads to pure hyperventilating madness!" Though things never get too serious, "Wannabe" allows him to slyly - and sincerely - vent his confusion, frustration and anger at the way pop culture is preventing people from being their true selves, and "Family Warrior" is built on an overtly positive sentiment that Breuer hopes connects and helps others in the way it helped him. "During the writing, my father and sister passed, and my wife was diagnosed with cancer for the second time, and 'Family Warrior' became my battle cry. For my family, laughter is the healer, and it's me saying 'bring it on, I've gotta laugh in the face of all, I can take it.'"
According to Breuer, Caggiano's invaluable input helped bring the songs to life, and he also supplied the seriously killer shredding that tears through almost every song. "I knew I needed a producer that would get what I was trying to do, and I had my sights on Rob Caggiano from day one, for his skills as a producer, knowledge of music - and his shredding! He's a monster, and had an authentic solo for every song!" However, it's not just Caggiano's contribution giving the record an extra kick in the pants, for two tracks feature the vocals of none other than AC/DC's Brian Johnson. "Brian came to see me do stand up comedy in Florida, and after the show he said 'Jimmy me son, I want to do a song together' – and I replied, 'I'm taking you up on that!'". On "My Rock n Roll Dream", Johnson delivers a self-penned spoken word piece in his distinctive Newcastle drawl, set over a bluesy score by Caggiano, while "Mr. Rock n Roll" is a balls to the wall rocker that makes it clear that they can still kick the ass of anyone who believes them to be over the hill because they're north of forty. "When Brian actually started recording is when things became surreal - I mean it's Brian Johnson! Hearing his voice and watching him record with a handheld microphone, that's the only time I geeked out. To me he's a great man, and I can listen to him tell jokes and stories about history all night long. When I'm with him it's no different than hanging with your favorite uncle that you love to death, and he trusted me to do the right thing and make this good. I hope I have honored his trust. That means more to me than the song, to be honest."
Having finally made the album that has been burning to get out of him since his teens, Breuer couldn't be happier with the result. Though he has fulfilled one rock and roll dream with its completion, it certainly does not mean he's about to kick back and leave it at that. "I plan on making great, funny videos for every song and have videos up during the concerts. I want pure entertainment when you come see this live, and now my rock and roll dream is to play this not only here in America, but anywhere else in the world that will accept it! I'm taking it one day at a time, living the dream."
Produced and engineered by: Rob Caggiano
Additional engineering by: Alex Prieto
Mixed by: Jay Ruston
Mastered by: Paul Logus
Recorded at: Metrosonic Studios Brooklyn, Clear Track Studios, and Sonic Debris Recording Studio
Jim Breuer and The Loud & Rowdy line-up:
Jim Breuer - Vocals
Rob Caggiano - Guitar
Joe Vigliotti - Bass
Mike Tichy - Drums
About Jim Breuer:
With over 20 years of stand-up comedy experience, Jim Breuer remains one of today's top touring comedians, known for his charismatic stage antics, dead-on impressions, and family-friendly stand-up. After making his big break in 1995 when he joined the cast of NBC's legendary "Saturday Night Live," Breuer quickly became a fan-favorite for his original character "Goat Boy: and his dead-on impressions of actor Joe Pesci. Following his success on SNL, Breuer starred alongside Dave Chappelle in the cult favorite film "Half Baked."