Brett Newski is a local musician and mental health advocate.
He’ll be opening for the Barenaked Ladies at Summerfest on June 23.
What’s that experience like?
WTMJ’s Libby Collins recently had a chance to chat with Newski.
Listen in the player above.
A portion of the conversation was transcribed below, courtesy of eCourt Reporters, Inc.
LIBBY COLLINS: So, since you’ve really started to — and I’m going to put this in quote marks — “make it,” you’re not just playing with your own bands. I mean, you’ve played with, what, the Pixies, Violent Femmes? Tell me about that.
BRETT NEWSKI: Okay. Well, those are shows we did with those bands.
LIBBY COLLINS: Okay.
BRETT NEWSKI: I don’t play in the Pixies, but, yeah.
LIBBY COLLINS: You’ve opened for them?
BRETT NEWSKI: Yeah, we’ve got to — we got to tour and open for some of our — like, our heroes, which has been really cool. You know, like Violent Femmes took us on tour a few times, and, yeah, we played with the Pixies and Courtney Barnett over the last couple years. So, that was really cool, and, you know, that stuff is — that stuff doesn’t come around very often, so it’s like when you get invited into the music industry for those opportunities, it’s very neat.
LIBBY COLLINS: How did — how did they know about you?
BRETT NEWSKI: It depends — well, the Violent Femmes, the local music writer, Piet Levy, he sent my record, like — probably like seven or eight years ago to Brian Ritchie, the base player, who lives in Tasmania, of all places. And then he ended up liking it and we kind of — he got us in touch, and we just started having, like, an email conversation. And, eventually, they’re like, “Hey, you want to do these shows with us in California?” And I’m like — it went pretty well, and they’re like, “Hey, well, do these shows with us in the Midwest.” And so, yeah, it was cool.
LIBBY COLLINS: What’s touring with them like?
BRETT NEWSKI: Well, I think touring with any, like, massive band is just such a luxury, because you — there’s no pressure on you, you know it’s like, you’re not the headliner, so you don’t have to — you don’t have to sell all the tickets. There’s already people going to be there and you just — you get up on stage and you let it rip for 30 or 45 minutes. And you get a nice green room, you have a — you have a Coca Cola or a Pabst Blue Ribbon or whatever and then sell some merch, and that’s kind of it. Whereas, like, if you’re doing your own shows and touring and headlining — like, we’re touring all over the country starting April 5th in New York City, like, the pressure’s on us for those shows. Like, we — you know, we pay money for PR to get the word out, I’m, like, running digital advertising so people know about the shows.
So, we don’t — you know, we don’t want to bomb a show and have not enough people show up and get blackballed from the club, you know. So, it’s a bit of pressure, but it’s a really — it’s a really neat feeling, I feel like, when you finish a headline tour and it goes well, it’s like — it’s — I think it’s one of the most fun, like, achievements as an Indie band.
LIBBY COLLINS: How many cities are you going to hit on that tour?
BRETT NEWSKI: I think it’s East Coast and Deep South, and then we’re doing Europe in May. So, we’re pretty busy this spring.
I’m a little bit nervous about it. I hope — hoping my voice holds up and everything and, like, my brain holds up well, because it’s — I don’t know, it’s very destabilizing to be just on the move that often. You know, there’s not a lot of consistencies and, you know, you’re sleeping in different places and sometimes you wake up and your back hurts because you slept on somebody’s completely shot couch. But, you know, it’s an honor to be doing it and, you know, we’re 35 now, and I don’t know many of my pals that are still playing. So, it’s just cool to even be still existing as a band and, yeah, we’re stoked — it’s going better than it has ever.
LIBBY COLLINS: And you’re making a living.
BRETT NEWSKI: Yeah.