"Metal doesn't have to be dark [and] ugly," Jim Breuer tells Chris Shiflett during this week's episode of Walking the Floor, which focuses not only on Breuer's celebrated career as a comedian, but also his musical side project.
A lifelong metalhead who, as a Long Island teenager, proudly sported a denim jacket with a handprinted Judas Priest logo splashed across the back, Breuer grew up equally enamored of rock stars and stand-up comics. Last year, the former Saturday Night Live cast member officially became a hard-rock frontman himself, releasing Songs From the Garage – his debut album with Jim Breuer and the Loud & Rowdy, backed by former members of Anthrax and Whitesnake – on Metal Blade Records. Below, we round up some of the musical highlights from the 75-minute interview, which takes a break from Walking the Floor's usual focus on Americana music and, instead, doubles down on the harder stuff.
Until one day before the interview, Shiflett mistakenly believed he'd be speaking with Jim James, not Jim Breuer.
Whoops! As Shiflett explains in the episode's prologue, some miscommunication between booking agents led the podcast host to think he would be interviewing "Jim from My Morning Jacket," rather than Jim from Half Baked. Fortunately, Breuer and Shiflett both grew up listening to the various forms of metal, giving the pair plenty of common ground to explore during the clip.
Songs From the Garage is not a traditional comedy record.
As the frontman of Jim Breuer and the Loud & Rowdy, Breuer isn't concerned with making people laugh. Instead, he wants people to head-bang. "If this was 1988," he tells Shiflett, "I probably would be able to retire with a great stage show in about a year. I'd be out with Judas Priest and Iron Maiden on a triple tour, just slaying." Influenced by the titans of Eighties metal, Songs From the Garage fires twin barrels of guitar crunch and rhythmic crunch, with Breuer's comedy chops taking a backseat role.
To be fair, though, it's still sort of a comedy record.
"I have to program fans," Breuer says, admitting to throwing a pair of lighthearted songs onto the tracklist – including the gleefully juvenile "Be a Dick 2nite" – as a sort of comedic bait-and-switch. "If I go straight-out, balls-to-the-wall rock," he continues, "I'm gonna confuse you. It's almost like the first time I watched Jim Carrey be serious. I couldn't wrap my head around it. So I knew, 'I'm gonna need one or two [songs that appeal to his comedy fans.]'"
When Breuer began doing stand-up routines in the Eighties, he often relied on impersonations of heavy-metal stars.
From the start of his career, Breuer hoped to roll his interests in humor and hard-edged music into the same show. One of his earliest routines included a joke about Ozzy Osbourne appearing at Live Aid. "Did you see Ozzy up there?" he'd ask the crowd. "How about when they threw the Ethiopian up there and he bit his head off?"
Former AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson sings two songs with Breuer's band, making his first official appearance on any album since leaving AC/DC.
"He's hands down the funniest guy I've ever met," says Breuer, who enlisted the hard-rock legend to make cameos on "My Rock 'n Roll Dream" and "Mr. Rock 'n Roll." "He's funnier than comedians."