June 23, 2016 Interview – Jim Breuer
Many youth had Rock-n-Roll fantasies back in the day, wailing away on air guitar, belting out our favorite song in the car, or daydreaming during a less than exciting lecture in school. But how many of them get to live out these dreams? Growing up in a middle class family in Long Island, New York, Jim Breuer was just like everyone else, but he was one of the lucky few to fulfill his aspirations. Working hard and making a name for himself, Breuer has become one of stand-up comedy’s biggest stars, one who connects with his audiences on a remarkable level.
Through years of working on television, hosting radio, and starring in films, Breuer now gets to conquer a new mountain, that of Rock-n-Roll. Perhaps one of the most difficult hurdles to conquer in his career, Breuer has conjured up a record that is not just a novelty, it is also some pretty kick-ass Metal. Releasing the debut, Songs From The Garage on May 27th via Metal Blade Records, Breuer is amped up to bring it to the people and show them that he has what it takes to make a statement musically. Recently we caught up with the energetic entertainer to talk his career in comedy, his love for Rock, the making of his album, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been working in entertainment as an actor and comedian professionally for almost three decades now. First, tell us, what inspired you to get involved in the world of entertainment?
Jim Breuer – I don’t know, I’ve always had an attraction for it since I was a child. I loved Laurel and Hardy. I used to sit with my family and watch, oh god, I’m aging myself here, but I would watch Sonny and Cher. I’d also watch this show called Laugh-In, I was always into the funny, so Flip Wilson too. I just remember watching these shows and being fascinated. Then, when I heard my brother-in-law played me Steve Martin’s Let’s Get Small (1977) album, I remember being probably 10 years old, or something like that, and I just couldn’t believe that a comedian would be on an album, that blew my mind.
I always had a huge fascination and draw to it. Once I was a teenager, I always pretty much knew that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to front a band and be a comedian and tour together with the band and do stand-up. I used to draw stage sets in 1984 and 1985 in my notebook of this massive Comedy Metal tour. It’s almost weird that I did that now, it’s kind of happened this much later in life.
CrypticRock.com – It is pretty cool how it became a reality and, as you had mentioned, you have had a very successful career as a stand-up comedian. How would you compare stand-up comedy as opposed to working in television and film?
Jim Breuer – Stand-up is great because I control my own destiny. Since I came back sort of in the stand-up trail in 2008, I’ve done nothing but control my destiny. I would say the last eight years have been ten times greater than the first ten starting with doing television and all that. You are under someone else’s control, other people are putting you in spots, other people are writing for you. You can’t control what people think of you, what they think your persona is. Although I did tremendous in that world, I made my mark, I love where I have been the last eight years. The last eight years of just controlling my destiny, doing stand-up, making a documentary about my father and the elderly, three DVDs, three comedy specials, a book, and now the album. I have been living my dream for the last eight years and I friggin love it.
CrypticRock.com – That is great to hear and of course you want to always have as much control over your creativity as possible. You mentioned the record, Songs From The Garage, which was released back on May 27th. You have been an avid Rock and Metal fan, and you have always been very open and passionate about it. What inspired you to finally do this debut Metal record?
Jim Breuer – It took me a few years to get over a fear. I had tremendous fear of that I am not going to take it seriously. I watched other comics try it. I watched actors, wrestlers; you get this instant feeling that people don’t accept it right away. You have to really bring it. If I hear an actor is now becoming a rock I think oh god. I’m well aware of that, because I have those feelings, which are wrong, but they are just natural. To get over that fear, and I’ve been wanting to do this pretty much since I’d say the mid ’90s, when I really started seriously putting this together and trying things, the SNL (Saturday Night Live) days. I always had this fear of I have to be goofy, or I have to be silly, or I have to be funny. I love Tenacious D, even that I would say, “God I would hear this dude, I want to hear a real album from them.” They are so good, the music is so good, Jack Black is such a great singer, a great musician.
I just finally got over that fear about four years ago, it came from a lot of people around me. Brian Johnson said, “Dude you really should, you have some powerful vocal chords, you should just put at least one song out there.” I would hear conversations with James Hetfield where, here he would say fear is a powerful monster to get around. He said you should never let them hold you down. Danko Jones was one of the first guys that approached me and said, “Why don’t you go for it?” I said, “You know what, I’m scared, I just don’t know.” Once I broke that fear, and I gotta be honest with you, when I got a Rob Caggiano, when I knew he was going to produce it and help me out, it was on. Then I knew I could get my vision, I could get my sound, I knew exactly what I wanted to put out there.
CrypticRock.com – Well that is great that you overcame that fear. This record is going to prove any naysayers wrong. Like you said, it is just natural that we automatically would discount something or someone not known as a musician. With this new record, the music is top notch. What was it like working with this band?
Jim Breuer – Oh my god, this is me, Mike Tichy, and Joe Vigliotti who have been doing this and tried to put this together for at least four or five years. They’ve been tremendous support. Like I said, once Caggiano came in, and he really got my vision, he really got my sound and what I was shooting for. It is hard to explain, it’s one thing to have a vision, it’s one thing to want to put something out there, and it’s one thing to finally do it, but to be happy with what you are going to put out there is a whole other feeling. I am so ecstatic. It’s not going to be for everyone. I know I’m going to have an audience, I know the audience that I want, I know the audience that’s going to come. I am proud of what I am putting out there, no matter what the critics say, no matter what anyone says, I am proud. I can’t wait to tour this thing, I am so excited. It’s been a really good high for me, especially with some family struggles over the last two years. This has been a tremendous bite in my family’s life.
CrypticRock.com – That is good that you have this positive thing to look forward to, and you should be proud of it. It really is a good record. Much like your comedy, you interject personal memories, whether it be from your childhood or your family, or whatever it is, into the lyrics of the record. Was that different for you, having that type of creative outlet to write them in a lyric form, opposed to stand-up comedy?
Jim Breuer – You hit something there. I finally just get to get a little broader on things. I love the song “Wanna Be.” That’s kind of my frustration on Pop culture in general and our whole society. The videos I am going to make funny where some of the songs are not meant to be funny. But I love “Raising Teenage Girls;” it’s kind of funny, but it’s still rocks and all this jazz. I also realize I’m just a blue collar guy that dapples in the entertainment world, but I am still a fan. I still have my feet on the ground. I’m best at what I talk about, my frustrations and my struggles of being a dad, a son, a husband.
The sound of my voice as a comedian is where my strength is, I just did the same thing with the music. I knew not to go to the far and wide, just sing about what I know and just be relatable. I’m sure I nailed it. I am shocked that I nailed my voice on my first album, even with the song “The Unexplained,” even though it’s off the beaten path, every single song is a really big part of me. It explains more about me than anything else I’ve put out there.
CrypticRock.com – Well, like you said, the lyrics do come across personal and you definitely have an different ability to give your opinion on things. You can hear it in the songs, you can hear it in the lyrics, as you said, like the song “Wanna Be” and such. As far as your vocals, your voice, many people do not realize that you could sing the way you do. Was that something that you knew you had the ability of at a young age, or was it something that you kind of were not sure about?
Jim Breuer – No, I knew at a young age. It’s been in me for a long time. It’s, I won’t say frustrating, but trying to figure out how to finally put it out there has been tough. I had a radio show, I had this thing with Rob Halford, “Devil’s Child,” and then later with Sebastian Bach and Rob Halford, we did “Locked and Loaded” and “The One You Love to Hate.” Then I got to do stuff with Metallica, Brian Johnson in the past, so I always knew it was there. But like I said, it took breaking that fear and gaining confidence to finally do it on my own.
CrypticRock.com – You finally did it and you get to get out and perform these songs live on the Loud & Rowdy Tour which includes dates in July, August, and September. That has to be really exciting.
Jim Breuer – I am super excited. I want to sound exactly like the record. I’m getting a vocal coach. I wanna kill it; I don’t want anyone to show up and go, “Ah, he sounds horrible in concert.” I couldn’t stand when I’d go see a band and the lead singer couldn’t pull it off, so I know I have my work cut out. I always bring an A game, I want to make sure, when we go out, I will bring you an A++ game.
CrypticRock.com – Well that is great to hear. Someone being a fan of Rock and Metal the way you are, I imagine you are passionate about it. You have been to concerts and you have been to experiences where the singer really did not have it, and like you said, it sucked. Out of curiosity, do you have a favorite concert experience in your life?
Jim Breuer – There have been a bunch of them. Seeing Metallica open up for Ozzy, literally, I thought I was watching a revolution of music. That was the most intense scene I’ve ever seen in my life. We could have invaded Europe and completely took it over just from the Metallica fans. I used to do that as a bit years ago, I honestly feel that Metallica fans were going to invade Europe and were going to take over; their fans could have done it. It was the most powerful, intense fan base I’ve ever seen in history. That, and Judas Priest with Iron Maiden. That Screams of Vengeance tour was the most Heavy Metal, from one to the end, just beat the living snot out of you. To this day, probably the greatest concert ever from beginning to end. Also Monsters of Rock with Van Halen and Metallica. Again, those are the three that really stick out. Two involve Metallica and one Judas Priest; Priest really brings it live.
CrypticRock.com – Well you mentioned some of Metal’s best right there. There are really nothing like those experiences with seeing Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Metallica live. There is an energy unlike any other concert.
Jim Breuer – Oh my god, as soon as they started, they just never stopped. There’s no big ridiculous breaks. It was just beat the snot out of you from beginning to end.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed, completely. Also out of curiosity, what are some of your favorite Metal albums?
Jim Breuer – I like Judas Priest’s Screaming for Vengeance (1982). I also like British Steel (1980). I love, from Megadeth, Rust in Peace (1990). With Metallica, I love Ride the Lightning (1984), Kill ‘Em All (1983), Master of Puppets (1986), even the Black Album (1991). I love Mötley Crüe’s Shout at the Devil (1983); oh my god that kicks ass from beginning to end. Those are my big go-to albums. AC/DC, the Back in Black album (1980). I also like TNT (1975). The Blackout (1982) album, that was my favorite Scorpions one. That’s my fine wine collection for me when I go home at night and I really want to Metal out.
CrypticRock.com – Those are some of the best right there for sure. Speaking of your record, you are actually signed on with Metal Blade Records. Someone who is such a fan of Metal, that has got to be such an awesome experience because Metal Blade has such a vast history. Slayer was on Metal Blade, there are so many bands that have gone through Metal Blade through the years.
Jim Breuer – That blows my mind. It’s like the movies, this whole thing started when Brian Slagel comes to see me in California. I had one song called “Santa Clause Ain’t Coming to Town.” It was very “Peace Sells” (Megadeth) meets a Christmas song, that’s basically what I was trying to do; a Megadeth Christmas song. My manager said, “You know, Slagel is here and we should let him listen to the song to make this album.” We called him up and he was already on the highway. He said, “I’ll come back and I’ll listen to it.”
He drove all the way back, we waited 20 minutes. We were in a back alley by a dumpster in a little rental car behind the venue I was playing. Slagel gets in the car, he listens to the song. I am sitting in the back seat nervous, just kind of watching. When he finished, he turned to my manager and said, “You are doing the whole album like this?” I go, “Yeah.” He said, “I’ll be in your office Monday.” He came in the office on Monday and said, “I really want to do this. I’ve been searching for this my whole life, this is friggin amazing.” I went, “Alright, this is cool, it’s on.” I knew I had to bring an A game. I took my time writing the songs, and again, the big gig was finally Rob Caggiano. No Rob Caggiano and this would be garbage. We wouldn’t be having this conversation. You wouldn’t be talking to me, no way.
CrypticRock.com – That is a pretty cool story. That is where it all started, and now look where it is taking you. The is out now and it will be exciting to hear what people think as more discover it.
Jim Breuer – I am very excited. I love being able to make the videos too. I love the MTV era when it was a story, they were like mini-movies. I plan on doing that with pretty much every single song, and even if I can’t get Brian Johnson to be in the video, I already have some cool stuff in mind.
CrypticRock.com – Oh cool, that will be something to look forward to. Actually, speaking of movies, my last question to you before I let you go is pertaining to movies. We cover movies on CrypticRock.com, particularly Horror and Science Fiction. If you are a fan of Horror or Science Fiction, what are some of your favorites?
Jim Breuer – I love all the Marvel movies. I love Deadpool (2016).I love Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man. If they made 40 Iron Man movies, I’m going to every one. I friggin love them.
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) Robert Downey Jr. is in new Captain America: Civil War that just came out, did you see that yet?
Jim Breuer – I haven’t seen it yet. If Robert Downey Jr. wasn’t in it, I would not go see it. Because he is in it, I feel the need to watch it.