It's funny sometimes how things work out. I was just a music fan looking to get access to a rock festival so I could take some photos. I'm not a hardcore know the names of every person in every band kind of fan, but music is my release. There are only a few times in life when I'm able to escape the prison my mind can be, and getting lost in a song is one of them.
Throwing a Hail Mary, I requested media access to the Monster Energy Rock Allegiance festival based upon my affiliation with The Good Men Project. I figured the worst case scenario was being called out as a fraud and denied credentials. About three weeks prior to the show, my credentials came through and along with it came about a dozen interview invites. I'm not an interview guy, so most of them I let pass.
Among the invites however, was one for Jim Breuer. Positive that I'd read it incorrectly, I scanned the email again. Sure enough, Comedian Jim Breuer was going to be at the show performing with his band, Jim Breuer and the Loud and Rowdy. The Fanboy in me got ahead of the anxiety ridden introvert and I quickly accepted the invite.
I've listened to his comedy acts for a few years and remembered him from Half Baked, but knew nothing of his musical ventures. I jumped at the opportunity and scheduled a ten minute interview, knowing absolutely nothing of the band or Jim's life. Fortunately for me, I was emailed a copy of the bands album and the internet is always rife with the personal lives of celebrities. I dug in, hoping to find something I could latch onto that might make for something a little different.
I found more than I'd bargained for. Jim Breuer the comedian that I'd remembered was simply a character, with no more resemblance to the man than a Skittle to a refugee. I found someone both warm, welcoming and eager to discuss his comedy, his music and his family. He is, in his own words, a “hardcore family guy.”
I made two critical errors however, and for that I owe an apology not only to Jim, but to the readers as well. I didn't test my main recording device and my backup failed. My camera picked up nothing save for a few good clips and background noise. My cell phone recording cut out mid way through the interview. However, I'll do the best I can to bring the Jim Breuer I experienced from the media tent to life.
My first question, and one I'm sure he'd faced countless times before, was “Why the band?”
As it turns out, there was a band before there was comedy. Back in high school Breuer and a few friends formed a band, but as kids often do, some of the members lacked the drive and intensity of Jim. “It's something that's been in me forever...” When music didn't pan out the first time, that's when he turned to comedy, propelled to fame by Saturday Night Live and the movie Half Baked.
The comedy had consequences though, and they really hit home for him in 2008 or so. “I was appeasing, trying to appeal to an audience and I wasn't that person. I had fun and I don't regret it, but I was doing what I knew.” He developed an undeserved reputation as a stoner and it followed him for years.
The music didn't come until a show 2010 or 2011 at Sonisphere in England and Baaken in Denmark. He was just winging it with a band and the crowd ate it up. That's when he knew he could make work, and when he began to lay the foundation for creating Jim Breuer And The Loud And Rowdy.
How did a change of message affect your career?
“In 2007 or 2008 I was in a bar. It was dads night out and we'd talk about family, marriage and whatever was going on. There was a woman there and she goes 'aww your that famous guy in town. You're that comedian guy. You're really into drugs. I can't go see your shows.' I thought, if she thinks this, how many other people think this? That's the moment I thought, I'm a family guy. If people saw the way I really live maybe it'll inspire them. That night changed my life and I had so much fear that the crowd wouldn't follow me.”
Until a comedy show he did in Cincinnati Ohio, where a fan drove 6 hours to see the show and “smoke up” with his idol. According to Jim, that was a night that changed his life. His show inspired that kid to change his life and think that he could be a dad and a successful family man. That was when he knew his transformed message would work.
How do you balance being on tour all the time, starting a tour with the band and also being a dedicated family man?
“I don't put myself away more than ten days at a time and even those ten days become wearing down. I took myself off the road in 2003 because my parents were getting older and my kids were really young. And I took a job on satellite radio so I can be home and I just did local gigs. Now, the the girls are in teenagers years. I don't travel to the point where it'll exhaust and break the family. My wife and I are a great team. Right now our focus is if the band tours at all these festivals next summer, then the whole family is touring. I don't care if I don't make money. To me its just a life journey as long as I stick to the passion of it. I get to be with my family and people will love it. It's a balance and its hard but I love it.”
You reference your family a lot on the album. It's very autobiographical. How does your family take that?
“Again, we're all so very open. I show every song to my wife and kids. My daughters loved it because it's me. I'm not just doing it to be funny. So many people relate to it. It's funny because my wife thought Family Warrior was a corny song, it IS a corny song. But its becoming one of those songs that helps people. It's a song people identify with. It's alright to be a family guy and into metal and have a rough edge and deal with all of those things that family guys deal with.”
I closed the interview asking Jim what he thought a Good Man might be. I lost the audio, but what he said struck me. I'll do my best to paraphrase:
“It used to be people would say Faith, Family, Job. That was the order of their priorities. Somewhere along the lines that changed to money, money, money. That's just wrong. It can't work. If you want to be a good man, just do the right thing. Sacrifice yourself for others. Do things to make the lives of others better. It's not that hard.”
As for the album itself? It's good. Really good, especially if you like traditional metal music and can relate to the struggles of being a dad and a family man. Songs like Family Warrior, Raising Teenage Girls and Thrash are easy to identify with and the music is well done. The album, Songs From the Garage, includes Brian Johnson of AC/DC fame on two tracks, and Rob Caggiano played and produced. Available on Metal Blade Records, the collection is a must for any dad who may be feeling alone while struggling with the day to day life of being a family man. My recommendation? Check out Jim Breuer And The Loud And Rowdy. You won't be sorry.