10 Questions with ... Jim Breuer
May 17, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
"Saturday Night Live" alum Jim Breuer has always had a love of ‘80s hard rock, and he expresses it perfectly in his new album Songs From the Garage on Metal Blade, with exuberant heavy metal anthems like “Thrash” and, casting an eye toward his own home life, “Raising Teenage Girls” (his are 17, 14 and 11) and “Family Warrior.” There are two songs featuring AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson, including a spoken word piece he wrote for specifically for Breuer, “My Rock ‘n’ Roll Dream.” A cast member on SNL from 1995 through 1998 – where his colleagues included Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond, Norm Macdonald, Chris Kattan, David Spade, Cheri Oteri, Tracy Morgan, Colin Quinn and Molly Shannon -- Breuer’s best known for his Goat Boy character and a spot-on impression of Joe Pesci as a talk show host. He also famously co-starred with Dave Chappelle in the 1998 stoner cult classic, “Half Baked.” On radio, Breuer was a sidekick on WNEW’s “Opie And Anthony Show.” hosted a comedy program for SiriusXM’s Raw Dog channel and currently mans a pair of podcasts for Blog Talk Radio, “The Metal In Me” and “Jim Breuer, The Mets And More,” where he gives insight into his family life. Breuer’s a fanatic fan of the Mets, and his exuberant “happy recap” social media posts after victories have become must-see viral videos for fellow Amazin’ followers.
NOTE: This interview was conducted by All Access Senior News Editor and Mets fan Roy Trakin
1. Have you suggested the Mets use “Who’s Better Than Us?!” from the album to play on the stadium PA after wins?
That was the intent last summer during the playoffs… to get it ready for the post-season with a montage of highlights from the season. But that wasn’t the thought when I first wrote it. When the album comes out, I’m putting together a video for Facebook which incorporates Mets footage.
2. Have the Mets exceeded your expectations so far this year?
[Neil] Walker and [Asdrubal] Cabrera have had a much bigger impact that I anticipated. And I’m not sure I expected [Michael] Conforto to be this good. I was kinda thinking .260-.270 with 10 home runs. Now we may have a Keith Hernandez on our hands. But it’s only been a month, so I don’t want to get too excited about it.
3. Do you make any money from podcasting?
Nah, not a lot. We just started. At this point, everything I’m doing is for the love of it. People keep telling me about my Mets posts on Facebook, “You should put them on YouTube and get paid.” But I do this for the fans. It’s accessible, it’s right there for whenever I want to post.
4. Why did you leave Raw Dog and SiriusXM?
I got bored of it after a while. It became a pain in the ass. Everywhere I went, I’d have to broadcast online. I had to find places that had an Internet connection to plug into. And that became difficult because everything was wireless. So I had to carry around this machine every single Friday, and it always turned into, “Are we going to make it on the air?... OK, we’re on the air!” On the podcast, I talk whenever I want about whatever I want. I put it on when I want. Me and my wife did a podcast talking about our marriage while driving in the car on the way to the airport. And, boom, I put it out and people were telling me it was the best podcast ever. Just us talking about things in a real way, like cheating and why people cheat, how we’ve survived this long. I think people gravitate towards passion and honesty. And that’s why my Mets videos did so well. It was pure passion because I’d mispronounce names, botch the score, get the uniform numbers wrong and people would point that out, but most seemed to like them anyway. The energy at the stadium was huge; I haven’t felt anything like that since 1986 at Shea.
5. Aside from Spinal Tap and Tenacious D, as you point out as influences, intentionally funny metal has never gone over well with hardcore fans. What kind of reaction do you expect “Songs From The Garage” to get among them?
I take the music very seriously, and I feel that kind of thing is making fun of us. I do enjoy it, so don’t mock my lifestyle. I’m not goofing on metal, as much as I am on myself, all the way through. There are comical songs, but this is not a comedy album. I praise old-school rock ‘n’ roll, what I grew up with and what I still live for. The only comical part will be the visuals in the videos for “Sugar Rush” and “Be A Dick 2Nite,” which are the two songs meant to be funny. I want them to react to this music, the choruses, the melodies -- maybe not moshing, considering our age -- but walking really fast. Get a little excited. Before their backs and feet start hurting.
6. Are you keeping the comedy and music compartmentalized, or are you looking to combine them into a single show?
Usually, stand-up tours are just that. I have toured with the band. What I do sometimes is mix the two, taking comedy bits and adding musical hooks to them. I take them on a journey of being funny, and when you hit the big laugh, you go into a chorus… a very loud, hooky rim shot. It becomes a laugh and a party all at once. I’m going to try to give the two equal time on this tour. You’ll have the music and the videos, something going on everywhere. Certain songs will have a build-up with a story to keep you engaged. And I’ve been doing this forever. I know how to keep your attention and get you into the song when it kicks in.
7. What was it like having AC/DC’s Brian Johnson write that biographical rap for you on “My Rock ‘n’ Roll Dream”?
He came up to me and said [in thick Scottish brogue]: “Unh, Jim I wrote this thing for ya; You can use it if ya want, or tell me to go off and be a pooftah. If you want to tell me to stick it in me rump, g’ahead lad. I have no feelings.” And as he’s reading it, I’m thinking, “Brian, why aren’t you in movies?” I would pay to see that movie just to hear that beginning. His voice is so powerful and distinctive; it’s amazing. I actually wanted to start the whole album with it. It was meant for me, but I told him, “It’s much better if you speak it.” I’m imitating [Rob] Halford meets [James] Hetfield meets Brian Johnson. The hardest thing was finding my voice. I could do everyone else’s. That was the challenge. But once I found it, we were off. I had to really bring my A game. I had a laser vision focus to what I wanted this to be, and [producer/guitarist Rob] Caggiano helped me achieve that.
8. Why haven’t you done more movies since “Half Baked?”
That’s a great question. I was pitching a road, stoner travel movie at the time. I thought, after “Half Baked,” I was going to get a huge picture deal, I was about to murder. Ten million a shot. I was going to be a movie star. I’m still waiting for that call. I have no clue what happened after that. Maybe it’s because I didn’t move to L.A. I don’t know. It’s bizarre. I wrote another movie after that, it was picked up during my last year of SNL. We couldn’t do it for scheduling, and then I left SNL, had a child and started a family. I had an idea for a “Goat Boy” movie; it was “The Elephant Man” meets “Teen Wolf.” I was just very angry toward Hollywood and entertainment. I went through an emotional winger from ’94 to ’99. It was just exhausting.
9. What happened at “SNL”? You were only there for a total of four years.
I got a call from somebody at NBC who told me in confidence that two of the head writers were fighting to get me off the show. So, I talked to Lorne [Michaels] and he said, [in a perfect imitation of his conciliatory, laid-back murmur], “Why don’t you sit down and talk to them?” They had replaced two of the guys who had gotten me on the show and quit, Steve Koren and Fred Wolf. So, there was politics involved, a little ego, whatever. When they left, their exact words were, “Good luck. You’re screwed.” And I wondered what they meant. “Oh, you’ll see.” I wasn’t renewed after the ’97-’98 season, but they wanted to “hold me” until September. At that point, I decided I didn’t want to be there if one particular writer was there. And that was that. It felt good not to be in an unhealthy environment. But at the same time, I wanted to be that 10-year veteran who turned into a movie star, come back and make Lorne proud. So, I was a little disappointed I didn’t get to finish what I wanted to do, because I felt I was capable of being that guy. I left on good terms with Lorne; if I see him, I’ll say hello, but I’m still a little intimidated by him. If you notice, I only do impressions of those people I admire. Lorne had a tremendous impact. He gave me terrific advice. He was a great guy.
10. Isn’t touring as a stand-up a grueling existence?
Yeah, but you’re in control of yourself, and the audience will tell you if you’re funny. I go on tour, I sell tickets, I know I’m wanted. Case closed. Considering I haven’t been on TV for more than a decade, to be able to sell out theaters is huge. I’ve just written a TV series which is in an agency as we speak. I’ve got a passion to put out something really good with family, nothing corny. I want it to be laser precise. I want emotions, and people to get emotionally attached to it, so I’ll take my time with that. Right now, my concentration is on the album and the tour. I want to have the time to develop something real. I’ve had a nice run, I’m doing alright and I’m very excited with what I put together in this album.