When I lived in Fishers, I remember frequenting the Chatham Tap, an authentic English-themed bar that was literally across the street from my apartment complex. They had live music, and I will never forget seeing Brett perform on that tiny stage. I’ve also seen Brett perform at Birdy’s Live and other venues around the Circle City, but for whatever reason, it was the shows at Chatham Tap I remember most. I hadn’t heard from him in ages, but a few weeks ago I got an email requesting an interview. Since we share some Hoosier roots, and I have always enjoyed his sound, it was a no brainer. I am a big fan of his, and it is an honor to finally sit down with him for an interview. Guys, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Brett Wiscons.
We’ve known each other for years. Why has it taken so long for me to interview you?!
Because I didn’t realize you were a writer, too. Only thought you did the golf thing. Boy, was I wrong. I would’ve reached out years ago! Thanks for agreeing to interview me!
I just finished listening to “Don’t Be The One” featuring Anne Balbo. What a great song, man. Where did you record the song and the official video?
Thank you. I love it as well. We cut the track in Awendaw, SC – just outside of Charleston with GRAMMY ® winner Mark Bryan serving as producer. For those who don’t remember, Mark is a founding member, songwriter and guitarist for Hootie & the Blowfish. We shot the video locally at Azmyth Recording Studios on Indy’s northeast side with director Kurtis Bowersock.
You released The Heineken Sessions EP last year. Tell me more about that release.
I officially released it last year in early November but then my wife and I had a baby in late December, so it’s almost as if I’m re-releasing it now. Especially with the single going to radio on June 13th. Did the whole recording process down in Awendaw, SC with Mark Bryan and just loved the whole atmosphere down there. He has a great home studio near the water. Doesn’t get much better.
Tell me more about MAD Diamond Entertainment.
I formed MAD Diamond Entertainment as an LLC a few years back. It serves a few purposes now – as my independent record label, my independent book publisher as well as a booking agency side for which I partnered with my brother.
It sounds like you have a partnership with Heineken. Does that mean you drink that before/during and after your performance?
I drink it all day, every day. Just kidding. It is my beer of choice, though, at gigs. I don’t drink like I used to, that’s for sure. But they’ve been good to me and I try and be a good brand ambassador for them. It’s not every day a local artist teams up with an international brand.
I’ve written a few songs over the years, but nothing that has been produced. Can you tell me more about your songwriting process? I am curious… Do you research a song over time, or do they just come to you?
I’ve written songs in myriad ways. Lyrics first and then music. A guitar progression first and then started to sing over it. More recently, though, I’ve gone a different way and written short stories (no more than three pages) and then turned them into songs. A lot of my writing is fictional, but the stuff on The Heineken Sessions EP is mostly from my real life.
Who are some of your biggest inspirations?
My wife still inspires me. Or maybe I’m just trying to impress her. Now that I have a daughter, she’s supplying me with more fodder to keep the creativity flowing.
As a songwriter, that means you know how to tell stories. So, totally unrelated to your life on stage, tell me a story.
The Chicago Cubs are going to end the drought and win the World Series this year. Fact.
Does Anne tour with you? If not, what happens when you play that song live?
At this point, she does not. If the song were to take off on radio, then we’d have to have a sit down and discuss. She’s busy doing her own thing and she also just had a baby. I’ve got an arrangement where I can sing the song solo and it still relays the same message.
You have successfully launched several Kickstarter campaigns. Tell me about those and what you accomplished with the website.
Kickstarter really afforded me the opportunity to take my career to another level. It was in early 2013 when I decided I wanted to work with Mark as my producer but I knew I needed at least $10,000 to do so. I devised a marketing plan and offered cool rewards and smashed my goal. That was for my first EP titled 33. Since then, I used the same model to fund production on my second novel and the aforementioned The Heineken Sessions.
I remember going to Warped Tour many years ago. You were on Warped Tour in 2008. How many shows did you play, and what was that experience like for you?
Some of the guys in my band were just talking about this over the weekend. We got selected out of a whole bunch of other bands to play one show on the tour. It was in Virginia Beach. It was a blast! I think the best part of that show, though, might have been the after party in Norfolk…
Wait… You write books, too. I knew you were a storyteller! Tell me more about the books and what you have and hope to accomplish with those.
I fell in love with a detective series that was published from the 60s-80s starring Travis McGee and written by the late John D. MacDonald. I’ve read all 21 books in the series. Travis McGee isn’t actually a detective – but a self-proclaimed “salvage consultant” who’s based in Fort Lauderdale and lives on a houseboat and helps people track down objects of value to them. He keeps half of the value of said object. I was enamored with the stories and when my dad passed away, I wanted to keep his memory alive, so I based my protagonist on him and named him Bear Whitman. Bear is based in Chicago as a true P.I. but he has his own way of going about doing things and rarely uses guns, but he does use his brawn and his brains as his weapons of choice. I like to consider him a “thinking man’s detective.” He’s more in the vein of Fletch than Travis McGee. I’ve self-published three novels in the series so far and slowly working on number four. Ideally, I’d sell the rights to Hollywood and we’d make a Bear Whitman feature film. I’m dead serious.
You have several preferred partners listed on your website. Tell me more about those and how a brand becomes a preferred partner of Brett Wiscons.
I’m all about partnerships. As much as I am a musician and artist, I’m also a businessman. After all, I do have a business degree from Marian University. Personally, I feel, to be successful in music – or anything really – you need a good team around you. I’m always looking to team up with like-minded individuals or businesses to work on projects at the micro and macro levels. I’d love to get in the ear of the guitar brand Takamine Guitars and be a brand ambassador for them. I already own two of their beautiful guitars that I exclusively play on stage and in the studio.
What’s next for you?
Really looking forward to what happens with the new single at radio. I’ve gotten tons of good feedback from nearly everybody that’s heard the song. It’s well-written, well-produced and has a universal message – that’s a decent recipe for success. I’ve been in a band/performing for 20 years now, so this isn’t going to break me or send me running if it doesn’t take off like I envision, but this song seems to have something special going for it. In the fall, I’ll start hitting some college campuses around the country too. Those are always fun gigs!
Brett, thank you for doing this. In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.
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