When Jim Breuer swings through Burlington this weekend for a two-night, five-show run at the Vermont Comedy Club, he'll be doing so as part of his current standup comedy tour, "Marriage Warrior." He will not, sadly, be bringing his band.
That's right. Breuer, the veteran comic and actor — you might know him as Goat Boy from "Saturday Night Live" or the stoner Brian from Half Baked — has a band. And good one at that. Jim Breuer and the Loud & Rowdy recently released their debut album, Songs From the Garage, on heralded heavy metal label Metal Blade Records. That Breuer is now label mates with the likes of GWAR and Cattle Decapitation should give you some idea of just how legit his new venture is. The record itself will fill in the rest.
Songs From the Garage is a gleeful throwback to the hard rock and pop metal of the 1970s and ’80s. And we do mean gleeful. The album is deeply indebted to the swaggering party rock of Mötley Crüe, early Van Halen and AC/DC — the last band's front man, Brian Johnson, even turns up on two tracks. And because it's Breuer, the songs are as funny and entertaining as they are face-melting.
Seven Days recently caught up with Breuer by phone to talk about heavy metal and his other favorite subject, baseball. (If you want his thoughts on comedy, go here.) Breuer performs this Friday and Saturday, October 14 and 15, at the Vermont Comedy Club in Burlington.
SEVEN DAYS: So, first things first: Sorry ’bout your Mets.
JIM BREUER: Nah, that's OK. You know what? That torture is pain and pleasure. And now it's over.
SD: I know what you mean. I'm a Red Sox fan, so I'm feeling your pain.
JB: You thought you were going all the way, probably. Big Papi. We had the same dream. But then it's like, "Oh, all our starters are gone. And we've had to patch all these holes. But here we are! It's a miracle! And … oh. Oh, all right, we're out.
SD: How would you fix the Mets?
JB: I wish I was the general manager. Two moves and the Mets are champs next year: You resign [Yoenis] Cespedes and you throw everything at [Aroldis] Chapman. Now you have one of the best bullpens in history and you don't have to worry about the starters lasting eight and nine innings. And you've got a lineup. You're done with your off season. But I'm not the GM.
SD: I gotta tell you, since you're a Mets fan: I didn't think it would ever be possible for me, as a Sox fan who remembers Mookie Wilson, to root for a guy named Mookie. But damn if I don't love Mookie Betts.
JB: That's funny. See that? You've got a good Mookie there, too.
SD: Let's talk about metal. I don't mean to sound surprised, but the new record is really fucking good.
JB: That is the exact reaction I knew I would get! I knew the expectation level would probably be low. But what's cool about it is that we're in the middle of writing the next album. This is a huge part of me and it's not going to go away. I'm here to stay and it means a lot to me. In the long run, I want to mix the two together and tour. Do 45 minutes of standup and then bring the band out. That has been a lifelong dream, to tour as a comic and a rock star. I've wanted that since I was a teenager.
SD: What took so long, then?
JB: It took forever to get over the fear of what people might think, of people just snickering at me, "Oh, you're in a band now? You're singing?" But the more I'm around bands, the more they accept me. And that's made it easier. I know I have the chops. No one's going, "Look at this fucking guy."
SD: How did Brian Johnson get involved?
JB: He's always been one of my biggest encouragers. He would say, "Dude, why don't you just do some songs? You have such a big voice, you have to. Even if it's just for giggles, just do it."
Anyway, he came to see me do standup and his wife mentioned to him I was making a record and he said, "I want to be on it." I was like, "OK, we'll see." I wasn't going to call him. But he called me two months later. He went out of his way to be on that album and I can't thank him enough. It meant the world to me. And he came to me, which is the sick thing.
SD: Had he seen your "AC/DC Hokey Pokey" bit?
JB: Oh, God, yes. That's what started our relationship.
SD: Any thoughts on Axl Rose stepping in for him with AC/DC recently?
JB: Yeah, not a fan. Not at all. It's like my parents broke up and before I can even digest it my new stepmom is here. My hats off to Guns N' Roses. But, as an AC/DC fan, I can't watch it. It's weird.
SD: This stuff is right in my wheelhouse. I grew up on Van Halen, Twisted Sister, Def Leppard.
JB: That's who I'm shooting for. I want you to come and bring your kids!
SD: Who are your top five metal bands from that era?
JB: Oh, God. Metallica, [Judas] Priest, AC/DC … they're the big, big ones. Then I would say probably Mötley Crüe and Van Halen. It's a wide diversity. And that's what I wanted to do with this record. Make this song a little heavy, make this one kind of happy metal. I love that Van Halen could crunch and bring it but always have a smile. They brought the smile to hard rock. It wasn't goofy. But you don't have to write about hate and killing and blood.
SD: That's one thing I enjoyed about your record. It rocks, but it's lighthearted.
JB: That's what I wanted to do. You can put this on and it's not goofy. He's singing about raising teenage girls, but I'm still rocking my head a little bit.
SD: Did you sing in bands as a kid?
JB: I started at 18, but I couldn't get things going. I tried into my twenties to get bands going. It's just so hard. But, in 1999, I gathered up my friends who were still musicians and took them on tour. And we would do metal stuff, but always comedy. We did Metallica's "MTV Icon." We did the Denis Leary roast and metaled up "The Asshole Song." So, I've been doing this in dribs and drabs for a while. But it took me a while to figure out that I need to put the right people around me to pull it off.
SD: I'm always impressed by hard-rock singers because it's something I can't do. I can sing, but I can't scream like that. Is that something you worked on, or does it just come naturally?
JB: I'm gonna say it comes naturally from passion. I'm not a singer. I consider myself a passionate impressionist. Meaning, when I was young I would impersonate Rob Halford, Metallica, Ozzy. I would practice for hours doing Halford's screams and it drove my father nuts. I'm attracted to that big, belting powerhouse voice.