A to Z of Making It, Influenced, Music, Unsung Heroes

Brian Wheat on Lefsetz

Here is the link to the Spotify podcast.

We are all flawed. As fans of music, we used to see our favourite artists as indestructible and confident, free of any issues and ailments and worries.

And then the books started coming and we started to read that was never the case.

They all suffer from confidence issues, fearful of their next step and they cope with various health and growing up issues by medicating themselves via illegal drugs, alcohols or prescriptions.

Brian Wheat has health issues and he’s had them for a long time. And you wouldn’t even know he had any issues. On stage, he always smiled and rocked out.

A lot of ground is covered.

Wheat talks about how Tesla make more money now than what they did on Geffen Records. “Mechanical Resonance” sold a lot and they didn’t make no money, because they were naïve.

They thought that when David Geffen and his team did something for them, it was out of the goodness of their hearts. But the labels don’t do anything without charging for it and the band was in debt.

He talks about Cliff Burnstein, Peter Mensch and Tom Zutuat and how Tesla wouldn’t be where they are today without them, but Burnstein didn’t want to work with them after they reformed, calling them a nostalgic act, in the early 2000’s.

Burnstein, Mensch and Zutuat didn’t want to put “Love Song” on the album. According to them, it was three songs in one song and it didn’t belong. The band stood their ground and they threatened to drop “Lazy Days, Crazy Nights” which was Burnstein’s favourite song.

But “Love Song” blew up (there was also a story there, about how the band and Burnstein had to go to Zutuat to get label budget approval to release another single as the first two singles bombed and the label was preparing to stop pushing the album).

And the band made sure they reminded management and the label about “Love Song” whenever they disagreed on things.

Wheat said that Tesla was difficult for Q Prime to manage because they were sort of a B Level band, as Tesla never got to the level of success of Def Leppard, Metallica and Guns N Roses.

The Tesla break-up is discussed which was strange to listen to as they just made a new deal with Geffen, released “Bust A Nut”, they toured hard and it went Gold, but it wasn’t platinum and they heard along the grapevine that Geffen was going to drop em. Burnstein even said to em, “that they are done. Their career is over.”

And I’m like “wow”. Even though there’s a cult like fan base for the band, the label and management decided that it’s over. Tesla is a working band. They make their money, on the road.

But the band already had some issues with each other and as soon as they lost label and management support they went on hiatus for 5 years.

And during that time Wheat had no money.

He got some publishing money but in order to survive he had to mortgage his house and hustle with others to produce bands and do demos. Jeff Keith even got a job as a DJ in a strip club, Frank Hannon was landscaping and Troy Lucketta was roofing.

Because Tesla’s bread and butter is the live arena.

Wheat talks about his relationships, his friendship with Ross Halfin, his small label to help young bands, his recording studio and actually being the son of the milkman.

Give it a listen.


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