Interview: Jim Breuer Talks New Collaboration With AC/DC’s Brian Johnson

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You know Jim Breuer from his diverse line of work in the world of comedy. His charisma and unique style have been key attributes to his success on the stand-up circuit, Saturday Night Live and comedic blockbusters such as Half Baked.

What you may not have known is that Breuer shares a burning passion for music as well. Last month, Breuer saw that passion through with the debut of his first metal record entitled,Songs From The Garage, which was released on May 27th via Metal Blade Records.

The record is one of Breuer’s proudest career accomplishments that took some courage and perseverance to make happen. With the help of metal mastermind, Rob Caggiano from Volbeat, Jim Breuer and the Loud & Rowdy put together a solid 11 song album filled with straight ahead and melodious metal riffs. Breuer’s smooth, yet fierce vocals over the top make the record one-of-a-kind in its category. Making this music provided Breuer with the opportunity to collaborate with one of his all-time favorite musical heroes in Brian Johnson from AC/DC, who appears on the tracks “My Rock n’ Roll Dream” and “Mr. Rock n’ Roll.”

Come July, Breuer will embark on an extensive North American tour where his worlds will collide, offering fans the chance to see Breuer both rip through his classic comedy material and thrash as a frontman. Alternative Nation recently had the chance to speak with Breuer from his home in New Jersey, about the role of music throughout his career, how listening helped him discover his singing voice and how Brian Johnson would give today’s top comedians a run for their money.

How influential has music been in your life? Has it always been a key element to your work and played a powerful role?
Music is at the top. Music and comedy have always been hands down, the most influential thing when it comes to my thinking process and the way I live my life. From thrashing of metal to Indian flute music. I have such a wide range. It drives my emotions. Music is the most powerful thing we have as humans. Music is a healer too. My mom was going through a tough stage. I remember just going to a piano and hitting notes and I remember just seeing her smile. It brings you back to a certain memory or emotion that you forgotten existed in you.

What does it feel like to have your first musical record released?
It’s pretty sick. I knew when we were making it, that it sounded good to me. I was trying to appeal to my generation without really knowing how far and wide that would go. It’s starting to really spread out. People are wrapping their head around it. That was the key. Are people going to get? Or will they say – Is this Jim Breuer? That’s the guy that’s doing this? There’s that stage of – Wow, it really is. Once they get over that and they’re just listening to the songs, the other wave kicks in that gets people thinking it kicks ass and is pretty catchy. That’s what’s happening now, which is awesome.

One of the things I noticed was that it sounds like you. It’s your art and your style in song form as opposed to some sort of parody. It sounds like what you would do as a musician.
Yes! That’s it. I’ve found my voice as a comedian. I hit a zone the last year eight years where I truly realized who I was. I am in my forties, I have three kids, I’m taking care of elderly parents; I just got really comfortable with that. I knew I could take that into the hard rock metal world. It just doesn’t exist. Nobody does metal without skulls, bones, hate and blood. People are not going to sing a song about raising teenage girls, they’ll sing a song about what they want to do them.

Funny you should mention your song “Raising Teenage Girls,” that’s one my favorite songs on the record. The music is fantastic, but I loved how you tell a funny story and touch upon the challenges of raising daughters, then end the song saying how you would not have it any other way.
You know, I may moan and complain, and of course it sometimes drives me nuts, but I love my girls and that’s right, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m glad you noticed that, you’re making my day here.

I know you’ve always been a huge music fan. Why did you choose to form a band and put a record out at this stage in your career?
I just never had the confidence before. When you are known in the industry as a funny guy, but then you want to belt out metal tunes, I needed to know that this was going to be something I’d be confident in and proud of. The minute I found management who got the idea, I took off with it. I’ve been trying to do this for years. Over a decade at least. Probably 15 years. I knew I had to get the team that just got it. And it took me that long to get that team, but once I did, I was locked and loaded.

Have these songs been in your catalog for a while? Or did you write them after you knew you were going to proceed with the record?
Three of the songs have been with me for a while, “Who’s Better Than Us,” “Raising Teenage Girls,” and “Family Warrior,” which used to be called “Heavy Metal Man.” Some of the lyrics were the same, but the chorus was not. Then, once I started putting riffs together and was hanging out with the band putting together full songs, it all came together. Most of them I had in my head and were about 70% done. When Rob Caggiano from Volbeat came in, he just brought it to a whole new level. It was like going to college. He taught me how to write, how to re-write, how to push myself and how to sing better. He brought me to a work ethic that I didn’t know I was capable of. I’m still missing my rear-end.

Do you play any instruments? Did you write the music as well?
No, the way I would write is that I would hum a tune on the phone then imitate it to my guitarist. I would sit and explain the way I wanted to song to go – everything from the melody to the riff to the overall tune. He would then take a whack at what I was trying to say. We had a lot of music going in, then Caggiano some things and brought it to another level.

This style of music is not easy to sing, is that something you had to really work on?
It took a little time because I didn’t know what my voice was. I’m used to imitating other rockers, so I didn’t know what I was going to sound like. It took us until the end of the first day to figure out what my voice sounds like. Rob would then tell me to sing higher and I would say “What!! I can’t sing higher. I don’t know notes, I can’t read music.” He’d bring me by a piano and play me what I was singing and then play me how he wants me to sing it. I told Rob, I’m great at mimicking. So I had him go in and sing it the way he wanted me to. I would then mimic Rob. We were able to pull that off. Rob really pushed me by doing that. He would explain, if I wanted to sing these songs live, I had to be able to do it all the time. I loved it. We became like brothers.

That’s great. I love that. “You want me to sing higher? OK, well then you have to go do it first.”
(Laughs) I’d say, “Well, how high do you want me to go?” You go in there first and let me know, then I’ll figure it out.

How long did the recording take? Had you been working on this when you had free time over the past few years or did you dedicate a block of time to only this music?
It took a solid two years. There were a lot of factors. Rob was touring with Volbeat and I was touring as a comedian. My wife was also battling cancer. There were on the stage and off the stage things going on that made us do this in pockets. I have gained so much respect for musicians. Now I know, no matter what, the next go-around, I am taking two or three months off just to record. I really hit a rhythm with the last four songs we did. We were recording for three weeks straight in Florida. Once I hit a rhythm, I redid all the songs I had already finished. We literally went back to every song I had completed because I was in such a zone.

How did get Brian Johnson in the mix?
He would come to a bunch of my shows in Florida. He’d come up to me after the show and say how he heard I was making a record and really wanted to be on it. I thought he was just pulling my chain, but he was dead serious. He thought it would be good fun. I told him I would take him up on it, then I never called him back. I still thought it was too good to be true so I didn’t follow up on it. About six months later, he called me and said he was coming to New York to see what was going on with the record. Then I realized he was really serious and I needed to create something for him. I had this idea of older guys getting sick and tired of being called old, so they spend all their kids tuition, tear up the evening and show everyone how to be Rock n’ Roll. He loved the idea. About a year later, he came in on his own in Florida and was like “let’s do this.” He thought we’d make a lot of the music industry angry because it was better than most of the other garbage out there.

It was so awesome. I told him it would go nowhere unless he approved and he told me he trusts me 100%. He didn’t even care to listen to the completed record. He just said he wouldn’t be here if he didn’t trust me. That is the type of guy Brian Johnson is. I don’t even see him as Brian from AC/DC. Next to my Dad, he is one of the best men I’ve ever known. He’s generous, honest, giving, thankful, humble and funny guy. I love him and his whole family.

I’ve heard that he is a very funny guy. You wouldn’t necessarily think that.
He is hilarious. I’ve hung out with Dave Chappelle, Tracy Morgan, I’ve seen Will Ferrell in action, but Brian can hold court for hours. He is beyond funny. He’s got stories upon stories all that hit you with a left hook that you didn’t see coming. I told him he should do stand-up, he that’s funny.

You have an extensive tour coming up. It’s broken up by stand-up and full band performances. For your band gigs, will you mix it up with some comedy or will it be all music?
I’m going mix on the Loud and Rowdy tour. Some of the songs will be straight up and some will have a little stand-up in the middle or towards the end of them. The festivals will be a learning experience. I’ll come out and smash with a couple songs then mix with some comedy. When we are playing the Brooklyn shows, those will be very loose and fun shows. I will vary depending upon what the crowd wants. I’m basically warming up for a headline tour in the winter. When we headline this, I have a whole theatrical show that I’ve had for over a decade in my head. All of it, from how it starts to how it ends, every song will have a story. I can’t wait to unleash this monster.

For more information visit OfficialJimBreuer.com

Jim Breuer and the Loud & Rowdy – “Thrash”

Jim Breuer and the Loud & Rowdy – “Old School”

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  • whisky

    Can’t dig it. I have a bit of a problem with comedy music to begin with (excluding Henry Phillips’ stuff, which is brilliant), but then add in the over-cliched lyrics and it just leaves me cold. Also I’m suspicious of all the production on the vocals. Doubled the whole time and with heavy-handed reverb, it makes me wonder if the dude can even sing. Wouldn’t be surprised to find that there’s a shit ton of autotune happening too. But hey, good for him; he gets to live out a fantasy, and that’s great.

  • Corndog

    I thought that was Chip Foose in that pic above.

  • Micah Carey

    Who gives a shit about Jim Breuer? “Diverse comedy” my ass. He was a lesser member of SNL about 20 years ago (remember ‘Goat Boy’?? yeah me neither) and now he’s known basically for name dropping Brian Johnson every five seconds.

  • Valhalla

    Good questions. Well written article.