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Wet Brain: LA's Hot New Band
Wet Brain: Coming Soon
By: Adam C. Libman
Editors Note: This is part 1 of a two part article
That is the question I need answered.
What do I need answered? That's simple; the answer isn't.
When is Wet Brain going to blow up?
Break-up. No. No. No. I mean, when is Wet Brain going to get the distribution to the major outlets: TV, Radio, Print, Internet.
Fuck, I need to know. I need to know. Damn it. I want to know.
I ask Chris Mann, Manger of Wet Brain, when they're going to hit it big. He laughs.
The reality of it is that Wet Brain will hit the scene when the forces that exist decide its time. But I know a SECRET. They will hit. This feature is all about why I even ask the question in the first place: When?
"People are energies of love". Parker is explaining his meta-physical understanding of human beings. As he talks, it reminds me of some type of self-help infomercial at 2:00am on a Tuesday. It would be easy to dismiss what he says. We've all heard "love" this, "love" that. This is different. He means it. He feels it. He shares it with others; anybody who will listen. "We live in an insular world, where people are separated, or at least they think so. Wet Brain brings people together". Kevin interjects, "We want to share the love. We want people to see the beauty of life". If you didn't know Parker or Kevin, if you were just to read those quotes, they would be devoid of meaning. It would be fake because we're heard it so many times. The skeptic in us believes its all crap. But to hear them say it, to feel them say it, belief is not necessary. You feel it from them; you KNOW its true.
Who are these guys? Who are they that we should place our trust in them?
The Band Members
Wet Brain is comprised of Parker Stevenson (Lead Vocals, Guitar), Colin Lyon (Lead Guitar), Dan Park (Bass), Kevin Lyon (Drums). They are four different people. On stage they are Wet Brain. They complement each other every well. Parker is the out-spoken front man. He's charming, charismatic, vocal, insightful. On our August 14, 2006 interview he would be often asking questions to the other guys. I remember thinking to myself, "Hey, aren't we suppose to be doing this interview?" And yet, his questions were spot on. In fact, our interview wouldn't have been as good if Parker didn't ask Colin, Dan, and Kevin questions. Parker knows how to assert himself in manner that is neither threatening or insulting. He knows how to listen, and when to take the moment. While Parker is the most vocal of the band, he is 1/4 of the band. If Parker is the face (the metaphorical head of the band), Kevin would be the feet. Kevin has a very calming presence; he grounds the band. At the inception of the band, Kevin had the dual roles of drummer and band financial manager. I point this out to emphasis that Kevin has many talents, and he will do whatever is necessary to make Wet Brain happen. Kevin is the feet that move Wet Brain from point A to B. If Kevin is the feet, Colin is the fingers. Colin is your quintessential lead guitarist: he does all his talking through his guitar. Colin is introverted and shy. And yet, after a show, he's the first to give you a giant hug. I remember after our interview I shook some hands with the other guys. I was about to shake Colin's hand. He brushes my arm aside, gives me this giant bear hug. It really touched me. Colin talks through his actions. If Parker is the face, Kevin the feet, Colin the fingers, then Dan is the hips. Why the hips? Because this man got some funk in him! When he plays bass, you better be outside a certain radius or else you'll be hit by his monster jams. Like hips, which are in the middle of the body, Dan's personality is mixture of Parker, Kevin, Colin strong attributes. He's out-spoken like Parker, grounded like Kevin, and like Colin, speaks his passions through playing his bass. Parker. Kevin. Colin. Dan. Together as Wet Brain.
Formation Of Wet Brain
The name Wet Brain has been around for 4 years. Starting in a San Diego garage, the initial ingredients for Wet Brain formed with Parker, Kevin, Colin as the nucleus. Together they played on the AVP Tour, The Whisky, House of Blues Sunset, along side bands like Phantom Planet, Atreyuh, and Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine. Something was missing though. It was Dan. Having gone through two nameless bass players, Wet Brain desperately needed a quality bass player. Through a common friend JP, Parker and Dan met, and it clicked. As we talked about how it all happened, Dan mentioned, " I saw Wet Brain play as a freshman at LMU, and I said to myself that I would be in that band". 4 years later, it came true. As a front man for an Arizona band, playing lead guitar, the transition to bass wasn't easy. But Dan has made it work. Having met the band in the summer of 2006, and meeting with them several times, I've since seen Dan become more comfortable. His acceptance and inclusion in the band has been critical to the success of the band.
I was THERE..... Every band or relationship has a transformational moment after which things are never the same. We've all had them. It could be your first car accident; DUI; death in the family. Those are fast; painful. Those types of events often take years to appreciate. It takes years to find meaning in that moment. But then there's a first kiss, a job offer, an A on that damn math test. The appreciation and gratitude is instant. That moment validates all the work you poured in. Wet Brain had that moment at the Knitting Factory, June Wednesday, 2006. I was THERE. Click here to read my review. It was a magical night. The energy was intense. It hasn't been replicated since. The Wet Brain I know started from that show. In many ways in was their first show. It was Dan's first performance as a member of Wet Brain; Chris Mann's debut Manager. With Wet Brain Crew Carson Bowley, Matt, Bree Smith, Ali , they turned a debut moment into a defining moment. As Kevin put it, "It was a start of something new; new momentum". Parker. Kevin. Colin. Dan. Together as Wet Brain.
I fell in love with Wet Brain that night. It wasn't a rational decision. It just happened. In an instant. Since that night, I've been to around 5 or 6 shows, and each time I'm in awe of their life performance. There in lies the answer to the first secret: it's their live show!
The Live Show
As Chris Mann would tell you, Myspace numbers lie. Bands inflate those numbers. There is however one number that never lies: paying fans! Let me tell you, Wet Brain fans on average have been to 3-5 shows....in the past 6 months! In the Los Angeles market, that is a HUGE deal. I write this because I could write nice nothingness about Wet Brain, but if my assertion is that they will hit big, then it will be the fans that ultimately make it happen. So what is it about the live show that makes Wet Brain special?
You don't realize it till the end of the show when your ears hurt and you are soaking wet. You started out at the back of the venue, and with each progressive song, you inch closer. Then a little closer. Closer still. Till it happens. You bump into somebody. Being Los Angeles, you look at them with that look, "Watch it". You look closer, and they're in a hypnotic trance, gyrating to Colin's riff. Under your breathe, you say excuse me, for it was you who needs to "Watch it". That "it" is the Show.
A Wet Brain show always starts with up-tempo song that immediately engages you. You can't help but start moving your feet. As you look on stage, Dan is all over the place. Its like he's doing karate with his bass. The dude is intense. In the interview, Dan's introspective, on stage he turns into this animal. You can't help but feel his intensity. Colin is calm as the Pacific after a storm; pure glass. Kevin is jamming with efficient coolness. Then it happens. Parker happens. His voice has energy. More importantly, it has depth and emotion. You just can't help start rocking out. As the first song ends, you unloosen your jacket; its getting hot. Then it happens again. Parker. He talks to the audience. It really engaging stuff, too! It almost Dave Grohl-equese. Parker makes sure to connect after each song. You feel his sincerity, even through his sarcasm. You can identify with Parker. And just when its right, Kevin starts the next drum beat. Its another fast one. By now, your feet and hips are moving. You're starting to let loose. The it happens. Colin. He begins one of his epic guitar solos. Having gone to hundreds of shows, I can say with authority that Colin is truly gifted. He takes you to new heights with the notes he can reach. He puts you into this state of energetic tranquility. And when he finishes, you scream. You can't help it. While Parker is the face of the band, I believe the ultimate success of the band rests in Colin's fingers. Colin can take you into The Concert Experience. As Colin eases off the guitar, Dan and Kevin amp it up and finish with great strength. Fuck, I shouldn't of worn that jacket. Its getting really hot. Wet Brain, playing with the emotional current of the room, will tone it down with Trouble. It's a slow hypnotic song that penetrates you. By now you're moving your whole body. Its a sway. What they're really doing is letting you rest because the rest of the songs are going to require some energy. "Never Will" starts playing, and again you're rocking your body. At that moment, you're glad to be alive. At that moment, Wet Brain has fulfilled its mission. You are happy. They are happy. After their last song, you want more. You need more.
After their set, fans come up to the guys. This is where Wet Brain cements the relationship. They are charming and grateful to have delighted you for 30 minutes. You better watch out through, Colin might give you a giant bear huge!
Needing more Wet Brain, you go to the next show. Its the same great experience. This time something is different. The people. There's more of them! Hell, you brought 2 more. And that's how its happening. One person at time.
Behind the live Show
One at a time. That's how you build. A fan base. A franchise. But at the core is a dedicated team. During the Oscars you hear these obscure names that have no meaning to you. Let me tell you, you don't win a Oscar or Grammy alone. It takes a team! Wet Brain not only has a team, they are building a volunteer Army.
Chris Mann. It starts with him. When I first met him at Figueroa Hotel in Los Angeles CA, I liked him. I wasn't impressed with him by any means. That's probably by design. He's a very unassuming guy. I did notice one thing at that first meeting: he is universally respected. At that meeting, everybody had a reverence for this guy. I guess when you have Ace King in the pocket, you don't need to show anything; its only when the stakes are worth it that he'll call, and then he'll re-raise. As our relationship has progressed, I too have come to respect Chris. Its hard not too. The man is like the undercurrent of the Mississippi River: Calm on the top, relentless on the bottom. He's engaging, but more importantly gets shit done. He knows how to talk a person in a manner that will get results. Whether its a band or a business meeting, he gets it done. As Chris states, "My goal is to get Wet Brain signed". I have all the confidence in the world that will happen. He's booked Wet Brain at LA best clubs, oversees Myspace relationships, and on occasion eats and sleeps.
Bree Smith & Nicole Sanchez head ticket sales. In Los Angeles, where Pay to Play is the norm, you gotta sell. Again. And Again. Bree makes that happen. Say hi to her, she's be the girl in the white hat!
Carson Bowley is the man behind those amazing graphics on Myspace. For all strategy in marketing, you gotta have great graphics to catch the eye, which Carson does regularly. Without Carson, Bree couldn't do her job.
Matt Gluckert. You'll see this guy someday on a "Making of the Video".
Ali Fredman & Alex Alarcon. At every show you see them. They'll do whatever needs to be done. Whether is helping with the sound monitor, taking pictures, moving stuff, these are the type of guys every team needs.
There are thousands of amazing bands around, but hardly any of them have the team that Wet Brain has. That is secret number II.
Team. Its an overused word in corporate America. But when heard in the context of Wet Brain, you believe it. You feel it. Everybody is doing there part to make this thing work. And sometimes you get help from places you'd never dream of.
Drip by Drip
Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. That's how it starts. Then a puddle. Then a stream. Before you know it, you've got a flood. Malcolm Gladwell calls it "The Tipping Point". A fan base works the same way. Parker and Chris take a lot of time to reach new fans. Through the advent of Myspace, Wet Brain has reached out to millions of new fans. And every once in while, what you think is a drip is really a water main about to break open.
Meet Zero. You can too on Myspace. Parker, looking at the Myspace page of Scarlet Grey noticed Zero and, and messaged her (the equivalent of emailing on myspace). She responded. Through a couple of exchanges, Zero eventually listened to Wet Brain's music, and to quote her, "I feel in love with Wet Brain". To end the story there would be the story of millions of Myspace bands. But this story goes further. Zero got the idea to promote Wet Brain at her High School by writing Wet Brain on all the chalk boards. Enough?. Nah. Zero printed stickers and began handing them out to her friends at school. But why stop there! Zero burned CD's (yes, she did this with legal permission) and along with her stickers, began handing them out at malls in her city. 0 is a number that represents nothing; Zero represents an element of goodness that a person can be moved to act upon something they believe in. Zero hasn't stopped at her friends; she got her family into Wet Brain as well. So much in fact that her Mom, a marketing maverick, is going to help the band once they reach a certain point. To have fans like Zero validates the Wet Brain message and growth strategy.
Zero is special. But there are others. Hundreds of them. Each doing what they can to make Wet Brain happen. Its a testament to the music and the resolve of Wet Brain to build a community. This is secret III.
Beyond a casual connection, there is a reason that people embrace the band. This is the last of the secrets I will share with you.
The last secret of this article: Wet Brain has penetrating lyrics. You can be a great performer (Prince/Madonna/KISS); you can have a great marketing team ( Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez); you can be a gifted musical artist (millions of myspace artists); but to stand the test of time you need lyrics that have meaning. Meaning. We all want it. When we get it, we don't know what to do with it because its been so long since we've had it that we've forgotten what it feels like. Go to a Wet Brain Concert. Listen. You'll remember.
I'll share something personal about myself: I don't listen to lyrics. My favorite band, The Foo Fighters, I couldn't tell you anything more than the a few chorus words. It's not that I don't think they are important. They are. The way I process sound is by hearing the beat and feeling the emotion, and attaching to a few keywords of the chorus. As we are going over this Article, Maria said I have to write about their lyrics. Maria can learn lyrics to a song by listening to it once. I can't. Maria has told me over and over how much she loves the lyrics. So I checked them that. Wow. They hit me. A show is for 30 minutes, a music video 3-4 minutes, a graphic about .2 seconds. Lyrics though, they stay. See Shakespeare. See Homer. See Mark Twain. They penetrate your soul. They change you. Since I've taken the time to actually know Wet Brain lyrics, each time I listen to their songs, its a much richer experience. I still feel the beat and emotion, but know I have the intellectual attachment. That's how you can tell the real fans: they take the time to actually understand the words their mouthing. I'm now a Wet Brain fan. Here are the lyrics for "Saying all the right things". This song is a representation of all their work, not just a stand out piece.
Family names and airplanes has gotten you this far
Hurricanes and hand grenades exposes who you are
Even if some things you do get hidden from our site
I hope you think about these things, when you sleep at night
So tell me how it is that you've become
A just and holy man, with blood upon his hands
Do you think that we can't see
You're saying all the right things
Saying all the things we should know
So tell us about the good things
Hoping that the bad ones won't show.
Wipe the blood stains from your hands
We'll pay your debts when you are gone
Debts to ruined people living in a ruined land
With memories of faces and a rifle in their hands
Planted seeds of freedom cultivated in god's name
By saviors in a house of white a thousand miles away
So lets all turn our TV's on so we can see a war
Teleprompted speeches tell us it's worth fighting for.
May dying solders haunt their dreams, when they sleep at night.
You're saying all the right things
Saying all the things we should know
So tell us about the good things
Hoping that the bad ones won't show.
When.....Sooner Than Later
When is Wet Brain going to get the distribution to the major outlets: TV, Radio, Print, Internet? I can't answer that. Neither can Wet Brain or their team. But I hope you now understand why I ask the question. Give Wet Brain the opportunity to Wow you. They will. Go to a show. Listen to their songs. Read their lyrics. Do that, and I'll see you at their next show mouthing their Lyrics. Drip by drip.