Many of you might remember stand-up comedian Jim Breuer as a Saturday Night Live alum and popular character SNL “Goat Boy.” Some might remember him for his role in the classic stoner movie, Half Baked. And some might know him as the crazy New York Mets fan on Facebook who loves heavy metal music. I remember Jim Breuer as the guy who introduced me to Lars Ulrich from Metallica! I remember back in 1998, Jim Breuer came up to Z100, where I was working at the time, to promote a stand-up gig at Caroline’s On Broadway in NYC. We hit it off instantly chatting about ’80s metal in the green room while he waited to be interviewed. After his interview on the air with “Elvis, Elliot and the Z-Morning Zoo,” I picked up one of the phone lines and the man on the other line asked to speak to Jim saying he was a friend of his. I asked his name and he told me, “Lars.” I didn’t put two and two together at the time, but walked into the studio and told Jim his friend Lars was on the phone. He asked, “Is it Lars from Metallica? He’s in town to perform on SNL.” I remembered laughing and telling him I would ask. I went back to the phone and asked the guy if he was Lars Ulrich from Metallica. He responded, “How many Lars’ do you know?” I was blown away and like acting like a little schoolgirl. Breuer always got a good giggle out of that.
Since then, I would see Breuer at Metallica shows and he would see me and point and giggle after I reminded him about the story. Jim Breuer went on to become one of the biggest heavy metal comedians out there. As I said, he starred in the stoner movie classic Half Baked and was even considered to take Brian Johnson’s place in AC/DC before Axl Rose got the gig. Breuer was always one of my favorite rock comedians alongside my buds, Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine.
This past May Jim Breuer released his first rock CD of all-original music titled Songs From The Garage featuring his backing band The Loud & Rowdy. After listening to the CD a few times, I think Jim did a killer job on songs like “Mr. Rock N Roll” with the help of former AC/DC frontman, Brian Johnson, “Old School,” “Be A D**k Tonight,” and “Wannabe.” Jim enlisted Volbeat and ex-Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano to produce the CD and play guitar, drummer Mike Tichy (brother of Brian Tichy) and bassist Joe Vigliotti. The live version of the band actually features my high school buddy and ex-Hello Eden drummer, Eric See.
Jim Breuer And The Loud & Rowdy will be showcasing their live show at this year’s Rock Allegiance in Philly on September 17 and they were most recently added to this year’s Rock Carnival in Lakewood, NJ on October 2. I actually got to chat with Breuer for the first time in almost 20 years about the new CD and the upcoming shows. I like to think he remembered me. Here’s what he had to say:
So, is it safe to call you the new king of all media? I mean, TV? Nailed it! Movies? Half Baked is a classic! You’re a podcast and radio personality! And now, a recording artist?
How about we say, The Prince. I think there’s already a king. (laughs) We’ll say the Prince of all media. The king is still the king. I don’t want to touch the king. We all know who the king is [Howard Stern].
I’ve known you to be this huge metal fan, was it a life-long dream to put out your own rock record?
Oh my God! I’ve been waiting for this since 1985-1986. From taking music lessons, my wife reminded me of a couple times when I took the singing lessons to try to front a band and how fun it was because the chick would come in, I mean I didn’t know where to go. Where do you go for metal lessons? I’d have this classical piano teacher teaching me “Sunrise”! I would be like, “Nah! Nah! ‘Rock You Like a Hurricane!”’ Well, first you’re going to learn this…I don’t wanna learn that. I wanna Rock You Like a Hurricane! (giggles) So, I’ve been doing this forever and ever. I just can’t believe it took me this long to finally make the record and start touring it.
In your act, you would do the imitations of Brian Johnson and Rob Halford and stuff, was it easy for you to learn how to actually sing because you were doing those voices?
No! No! It was the opposite. It was so hard to find my voice. I didn’t know what my voice was. So, I would find myself singing like everyone else and trying to not do that. And we sat there trying to figure out, what is my voice? And it took a little while and then I finally hit a rhythm. It’s funny. I can listen to the record and tell you exactly where I hit my rhythm on what song, but yeah, it was hard. It was a lot harder than I anticipated.
I thought I was just walking in and asking, “Oh, when do I record? One o’clock? Alright! How many songs? Three? I should be outta here for six o’clock.” I had no clue how freakin’ long and grueling that process was. I didn’t know I’d be singing the same line over and over again, the same chord 500 times, rewriting the chorus, standing next to the producer as he tells me I need to hit this note and that note, and I’m like, “What? I can’t hit that note! I’m a comedian!” He would go, “Yes, you can! You’re a singer! You wanna be a singer, right? You’re a singer!” But I have to say it’s the hardest I’ve ever worked in my whole life, but the most fun I’ve ever had in my whole life. I freakin’ love it!
Do you give singers a new respect after going through the whole recording process?
I give all musicians a whole new respect! Not just the singers. All of them! And also can tell who really sings and who has a lot of help with the mixing. I learned a lot of that too. So, now, I’ll listen to a band, and go, “Oh, alright. This guy is getting a lot of help,” or, “Oh, wow! That was a powerful singer.”
So, yeah, I learned a lot about that—screwing with the vocals, amping it up, and all that jazz! Every song we would do, the producer would come in and go, “You know, you don’t have to try so hard. No one else belts it out like that.” I would be like, “Yeah, no, but I like it! I like it! It makes me feel better!” (giggles)
The last time I actually saw you in person, you were mixing your stand-up with a rock band behind you. It was at the WreckRoom in Wallington, NJ. What made you decide to finally incorporate the two?
Well, when you saw that it was around 2002 or 2003, back then I always wanted to do the rock with the comedy. Back then it was heavier on the comedy side and comedy driven, where once that tour was over when we were touring like that, we would go and we would just jam and we’d do real songs, and that really gave me the bug to do it. And they were the same high school people that I was around with when I first wanted to be in a band. So, they were there all the way from the beginning.
I just didn’t have the confidence to release real songs. We put a couple together and we actually did a rock night in Long Island in 2004 or 2005 and I remember Dee Snider’s son was on the bill and opened for us. We did well. People were a little confused, but I just stuck to my guns and we just did the rock music. I just never had the confidence to put anything real out because I’m very aware of what people think of me and what they’re gonna think and all that jazz. So, not until around 2011 or 2012 and I knew I had all my pieces put together, and then I gained my confidence. I said, “You know what? This is gonna be great! People are gonna like it or they’re not gonna like it! It’s gonna be that simple.”
I just checked out your video for “Old School” and I love it! You sing about everything we grew up listening to…”You want that old school, riff-driven hard rock music for you”…
Well, that’s what I’m targeting! It’s just got a 10-year run max, probably. I’m already writing the next album. Hopefully, I’ll get three albums to be able to tour until I’m in my 60s! I’m gonna be 50 next year! So, I’m not competing with young bands. I’m appealing to you, Tim Louie. I’m appealing to everyone who grew up with that music, to relate to who was there, and now we have families. I’m married 24 years. I have three daughters. I’m taking care of my mother! I want to be able to relate to the lyrics, have fun, bang my head, and not worry about skulls and dying and the devil and that stuff. No! I wanna have fun with this and I wanna have that music back. So, you’re exactly the crowd I’m trying to hit and hopefully, you bring your kids.
Well, your songs are extremely family-oriented. I mean, “Raising Teenage Girls”? Awesome!
Yes! Even “Thrash” to a degree. The only song that is dirty I guess is “Be A D**k Tonight” because you’re using the word “dick” in it. But then again, it’s very relatable, with a big hook. It’s very catchy. So, it’s a family metal package!
I love it! You just created a new genre!…Now, in the studio, you had guest appearances by former AC/DC singer Brian Johnson, an idol of yours, Volbeat’s Rob Caggiano and drummer Mike Tichy, brother of Brian Tichy, but your live band is a little different and includes my high school bud Eric See on drums and no Metal Mike, who’s in the “Old School” video. Did scheduling conflicts affect those guests from playing the live version of the band?
Well, Metal Mike was strictly economics. We couldn’t afford him. Rob Caggiano produced the CD and played all of the guitars and I gotta say, “No Caggiano, no album.” This album would not be anything without Caggiano. This thing would be a joke and we wouldn’t be talking right now. It wouldn’t be respected. He brought me to the level that I needed to be in order to be taken seriously. He was a mentor, he coached me, he helped me write, the guy brought in a whole new level.
And the funny thing about Mike Tichy, I didn’t know that Mike and Brian were brothers. We were already doing shows together leading up to the album and one of my friends after a show asked Mike, “What’s your last name?” He goes, “Tichy.” My friend goes, “As in Brian Tichy?” Mike goes, “Yeah, that’s my brother.” I was like, “What’s going on here?” I had no idea who Brian Tichy was and when I found out, I asked him, “How come you never talk about your brother?” He goes, “I don’t know. Do you talk about your brother?” I go, “Okay, you’re right! You’re right!” (laughs)
But I’ll tell you what, Mike Tichy is kind of the leader in my band. We call him Mellow Mike because he’s very low-key, but he’s a musical genius. He now plays rhythm guitar when I start touring. But the reason I don’t use the studio guys, Caggiono is in Volbeat, the biggest band in the world right now, and they’re going to be huge this year since Q-Prime, Metallica’s management, is managing them now. So, once the gods come, it’s over!
When you start performing live in July, will you be performing a majority of the record? Or will you be filling the set in with some covers?
No covers. The festivals, we don’t have long set times. I think the first one, we only have 35 minutes. I’m also gonna mix a little bit of stand-up comedy in between songs or within a song or two. Songs like “Be A D**k Tonight” and “Raising Teenage Girls” can allow that. Not so much the other ones. But when I did the Brooklyn shows [The Knitting Factory], if you’re a fan of comedy and rock, those were the shows to go to. The reason being, as a comedian, when I want to try stuff out, I go to clubs, I walk on stage and I try stuff out, but I don’t know where bands get to try stuff out. I guess they just rehearse and then they play.
I said I wanted to be able to do a headline set, be intimate with the crowd and actually talk to them. Ask them, “Do you like the lineup of the songs? Or should we change it?” I want to stop. I want to do bits. I want to do a stand-up bit. I want to tell a story. I’m gonna tell the whole Brian Johnson story when we’re live and then lead into the song. I want to do sketches. I have special people coming in and doing bits with me and playing music with me; those shows, I’m super excited about.
I’m excited about the festivals, but the warm-up shows at the Knitting Factory were awesome! For one of those shows, you know how rock stars will cover other bands? I did my rock impressions covering my favorite comedians. For example, I’m gonna do Brian Johnson covering Sam Kinison. I’m gonna do Rob Halford covering Steven Wright or Ozzy Osbourne doing Richard Pryor. (giggles) It was great!
One last question before I let you go, Jim. Your band was added to Rock Allegiance in Philly and most recently, to the Rock Carnival in Lakewood, NJ. Are you excited to be able to perform your own music in front of these large festival crowds?
I’m really excited to play Rock Carnival because it’s my backyard. That’s my home! I’m excited about the Pennsylvania one too, but the only thing I’m bummed about, that same night, I have to come off the stage and drive to the State Theatre in New Brunswick to do my comedy show, but the Jersey show, Rock Carnival, I really wanted to play Saturday with Twisted Sister. I felt that would have been more my audience.
However, once I saw Halestorm was on…Oh my God! I think I’m gonna ask Lzzy Hale, but she’ll probably say no, if she’ll sing “Mr. Rock N Roll” with me and take Brian Johnson’s part. I recently heard Lzzy covering “Shoot To Thrill” from AC/DC and to have her come out and do “Mr. Rock N Roll” with me, I’d be in heaven! And it would be awesome to do in front of a Jersey audience.
Catch Jim Breuer And The Loud & Rowdy at Rock Allegiance in Philly on September 17 and at Rock Carnival in Lakewood, NJ on October 2. You can catch Breuer’s stand-up at The State Theatre in New Brunswick on September 17 also. For more on Jim Breuer and his new CD, Songs From The Garage, visit OfficialJimBreuer.com.