Please explain what just happened.
I just got off work, I ate a breakfast taco, and went to the bathroom.
What is your earliest memory?
I was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. My family and I lived in a basement apartment for a few years, and I remember having a dream that Darth Vader walked into my bedroom. I don’t remember if anything interesting happened after that, though. Another early memory from those years, living in the basement, was a time where we climbed an enormous fence, at the end of our block, to get to McDonald’s. A couple of years ago I asked my parents if they remember that and they said there was no enormous fence there. Haha. I’ve always had a pretty adventurous imagination I suppose.
If you weren’t a musician, what other profession would you choose?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a musician (in some capacity or another). There really isn’t much else I’d like to do. I realized at an early age that I’d never become an inventor, after many failed attempts to make a hover pack with my friend Stephen. Honestly, I don’t really have a Plan B. I never have.
Describe a typical work day.
When I’m not on tour, I work at a coffee shop near the University of Texas. I’ll wake up around 6:15, head to work, brew some coffee, watch a couple movies on Netflix, and go home. It’s a pretty slow shop. After work, I’ll head home, grab some food, and play my guitar for a while (gotta write some hits, you know?) or mess around with some recordings I’m working on.
Is there a time you wish you’d lied?
I wish I had just made my “typical work day” seem a bit more exciting.
What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at age thirteen?
“Brandon, it’s me . . . you, from the future. Give up on the hover pack, man.”
If you could have only one album to get you through a breakup, what would it be?
I only need one song. “Song For The Dumped” by Ben Folds Five. That line “Give me my money back, you bitch” really resonates at times like that.
What are three websites—other than your email—that you check on a daily basis?
Facebook, Netflix, Paste Magazine.
From what or whom do you derive your greatest inspiration?
A lot of the songs I write are inspired by the life that I see around me, whether it’s something in my own life or something I see in someone else’s. I grew up in a typical three times a week Christian home, so a lot of the things I write are through that lens.
If you could relive one moment over and over again, what would it be?
It’s hard to think of one moment that captures the greatest moment of my life thus far, one that I would want to relive over and over. I like for things to keep moving and progressing (although I do love the movie Groundhog Day, so maybe I could take advantage of it in the way Bill Murray did). However, since I’m being forced to tell you…I think I’d like to relive the moment I found out that not only had my album gone triple platinum, I had also been nominated for four Grammys. Neither of which have happened, but if they ever did I imagine those would be great moments.
How are you six degrees from Kevin Bacon?
1) My father is friends with John Cho’s Dad, 2) John Cho was in the latest Star Trek film with Leonard Nimoy, 3) Leonard Nimoy was in various Star Trek films with William Shatner, 4) William Shatner was in The Kidnapping of the President with Maury Chakin, 5) Maury Chakin was in Where the Truth Lies with Kevin Bacon!
What makes you feel most guilty?
I try to live in a way where I don’t have anything to feel guilty about, honestly. When I was younger, living in Portland, Oregon at the time, I accidentally stole a tiny screw driver, and for some strange reason, every time I saw this one particular Huffy Bicycle commercial, I’d be overwhelmed with guilt about stealing the screw driver and would begin to weep.
How do you incorporate the work of other artists into your own?
There are so many amazing and talented artists out there, it’s hard not to be influenced in one way or another. I can think of a couple of songs where I’ve thought to myself, what would Andy (of Dignan) say here, or let’s try and build a groove like this song or that song. I think it’s terribly difficult to do anything that is completely original these days, so it’s just a matter of taking what you already know and making it appropriate for yourself and what you’re trying to do. There are a million songs with a G. Am, C, D chord progression, but if you can add your own personal spin, whether it’s with a great melody, interesting rhythm, or cool organ part, that’s how you create something new and exciting. You’ve just got to make it personal, even if it’s been done a hundred times, treat it like it’s never been done before.
Please explain the motivation/inspiration behind The Wealthy West.
I’ve been with The Rocketboys since the end of ’04 and have only recently started The Wealthy West. As a songwriter, I had all of these “other” songs that didn’t work with The Rocketboys for one reason or another. I record a lot at my house here in Austin, and so not only did I have several other songs, but they were all documented. I showed them to my managers and they thought they were great and started trying to convince me that I should do something with them. I had already played a handful of shows with those songs, and they seemed to go pretty well, and people were digging this new music, so I just decided to go for it.
What is the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?
“Stephen, we should stop working on this hover craft.”
List your favorite in the following categories: Comedian, Musician, Author, Actor.
Comedian – Steven Wright: I like my comedians like I like my wine . . . dry.
Musician – This is a tough one. Jeremy Enigk is pretty close to the top.
Author – Albert Camus: His novel, The Stranger, is an amazing piece of work.
Actor – I’ve really been into Alec Baldwin lately, especially on 30 Rock.
If you had complete creative license and an unlimited budget, what would your next project be?
If I had complete creative license and an unlimited budget, my next project would be so weird, and so expensive.
What do you want to know?
I want to know who has the best cheese dip in the world. And how I can get my hands on some.
What would you like your last words to be?
“Son, the money is hidden under the third fence post on the west side of the . . .”
Please explain what will happen.
I’m excited about the future of music. It’s pretty up in the air these days, at least when it comes to the business side of things. But I think today is an amazing time to be creating. With recording technology becoming cheaper and cheaper, and with things like Tunecore, Facebook, etc. more people are able to experiment and create amazing music that otherwise would lay dormant, and we get to find it!