Wheatus is an American rock band from Northport, New York, formed in 1995. They are best known for their 2000 single "Teenage Dirtbag" which was featured in the movie Loser, the HBO miniseries Generation Kill and most recently as an acoustic opening for the anti-bully film Bully.
1995–2002: Formation and Wheatus
Wheatus was formed by Brendan B. Brown in 1995, on the lower east side of New York City. Brown began by writing a few songs, and subsequently enlisted the help of his brother Peter Brown on drums, Rich Liegey on bass and backing vocals and Philip A. Jimenez on various percussion instruments, keyboards, harmonica, providing samples and special effects. The band derives its name from the nickname "wedus" given to the Brown brothers by their father when they were children. They made regular appearances at a local venue called the Luna Lounge until 1999 when they hired New York entertainment attorney Ray Maiello. He helped the group and shopped their self-produced debut album to major record companies and they soon signed a record deal with Kevin Patrick at Columbia Records. Maiello was subsequently hired as the band's manager. Their self-titled debut album was released on August 15, 2000 and spawned the band's first and largest hit, "Teenage Dirtbag", a song which charted at No. 2 in the United Kingdom. Their second single, a cover of one of Erasure's signature songs – "A Little Respect", additionally reached quite high chart positions, peaking at No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart. The third single from the album, a double A-side of "Leroy" and "Wannabe Gangstar", didn't perform as well as expected, only reaching No. 23 in the UK Singles Chart. An Additional song from the album, "Punk Ass Bitch", was bought by the creators of Jackie Chan Adventures and reworked as "Chan's the Man", the end credits theme for the program's first season.
2002–05: Hand Over Your Loved Ones and Suck Fony
The band began work on their second album in the summer of 2002, with Brendan enlisting the help of his sister, Liz Brown, and the band's merchandiser, Kathryn Froggatt, as backing vocalists. Shannon Harris of Relish, a band who had previously supported Wheatus on their earlier tours, was additionally added to the band as keyboardist. The album's first single, "American in Amsterdam", was heavily underpromoted after the band had a dispute with their record label over their request to lip sync on Top of the Pops. When their second studio album, Hand Over Your Loved Ones, was released in Autumn 2003, it received little or no promotion in the United Kingdom, and was never released in the United States due to the ongoing dispute. In October 2004, the band made the decision to part with their record label, and as such, formed their own record label, Montauk Mantis. During this time, they additionally enlisted Michael Bellar as a replacement for Shannon Harris, who had decided to leave the band over the dispute. In February 2005, the band re-released Hand Over Your Loved Ones under the new title Suck Fony. For the re-release, the album included new songs, including the new track "William McGovern", and a cover of the Pat Benatar classic "Hit Me with Your Best Shot". The album was originally only made available via the band's website, until 2007, when it was added to iTunes and Amazon MP3 after the band signed a distribution contract.
2005–07: Line-Up Changes and TooSoonMonsoon
Bassist Mike McCabe left the band in March 2005, shortly after the release of Suck Fony. He was subsequently replaced by Nicolas diPierro. The band subsequently began recording a new album in April 2005, and just three months later, the album's first single, BMX Bandits, was released as a limited edition 7" single. In October 2005, the band's third studio album, Too Soon Monsoon, was released via their official website. Since early 2010, TooSoonMonsoon has been made available via a "pay what you want" donation scheme via the band's official website. Days after the release, Michael Bellar decided to leave the band, and was replaced by Gerard Hoffmann. A second single from the album, The London Sun, was released in February 2006, however, the release marked the departure of Nicolas diPierro, who was subsequently replaced by 19-year-old rookie bassist Matt Milligan. A further line-up changed occurred in May 2006 when drummer Pete Brown decided to give up being a musician to get married. He was subsequently replaced by Kevin Garcia, leaving Brendan Brown as the only remaining member from the original line-up. The next line-up change occurred only five days later, when Kathryn Froggatt left the band due to pregnancy. She later turned her hand to a new band project, entitled Amberlove. Kathryn was replaced by Connie Renda, however, she subsequently changed her mind, and was subsequently replaced by Missy Heselton. In February 2007, Wheatus joined the UK leg of the Get Happy Tour, along with founders Bowling for Soup and Army of Freshmen and British pop-punk outfit Son of Dork, for a sold out 13 show tour. The tour sparked the departure of Liz Brown, who decided to return to her original line of work in New York. Missy Heselton additionally took a back step from vocal duties to concentrate on studying.
2008–12: Pop, Songs & Death
The band began recording new material in October 2007. The material's release was carried over until February 2008, when a video for the song "Real Girl" was released to YouTube. The video was written, directed and filmed by Brendan, with assistance from Heselton and Milligan. On February 3, the band made an announcement claiming that the material they had been recording would be available to purchase in the fourth quarter of 2008. In March 2008, the band performed several tour dates in the United States, and additionally announced dates for an acoustic performance in the United Kingdom. In October 2008, the band completed a successful tour of the UK, throughout which a few of the new material was showcased in an acoustic form. In November 2008, the band returned to the recording studio to perfect their new material, and thus, set a release date for a six-track EP, entitled Pop, Songs & Death, Vol 1: The Lightning EP. In early 2009, Brendan composed music for motion picture April Showers, a film which deals directly with the Columbine Massacre. On June 1, 2009, The Lightning EP was expected for release, however, wasn't available until June 2 due to a series of technical difficulties, including a server crash on their website. In January 2010, Wheatus began a worldwide theatre tour, with dates spanning the United States, United Kingdom and Austria. They were supported by nerdcore rapper MC Frontalot. In April 2010, Brendan announced via his official Twitter page that Pop, Songs & Death, Vol. 2: The Jupiter EP was scheduled for release in May 2010. Notwithstanding the release was subsequently postponed after ex-band member Phil Jimenez' sister was killed in a car accident, and several of the tour personnel decided to leave. The EP was subsequently released on December 23. In the summer of 2011, Wheatus embarked on a tour of the UK, following a successful headlining performance at the SZIN Festival in Hungary. They were supported on tour by MC Frontalot, Math the Band and City Stereo. The tour included 32 dates. The band announced plans to combine the two EPs and release them as a full studio album in October 2011. The release of the album is expected late 2012 or early 2013. In 2012 they embarked on another successful tour of the UK (with Math the Band, MC Lars and Corn Mo) including headlining in June at the in Sudbury, Suffolk this time they returned to Australia for the first time in 10 years for a small tour shortly after.
2013: The Valentine LP
The band began recording their new album late 2012 for a summer 2013 release. The material will be followed by a UK tour in late 2013. Brendan B. Brown has stated over Twitter that their new material is a lot closer to their first 2 albums in style and that the new album will revolve around LGBT issues in public schools and sexuality equality. The record, entitled The Valentine LP was released on August 2, 2013.
Shortly after the release of the album, drummer Kevin Garcia, who played with the band after 2006, decided to leave Wheatus. He was subsequently replaced by William "Will" Tully, whom Brendan found through his friends in a band called .
During 2013, the English-Irish boyband One Direction started to perform Teenage Dirtbag on their world tour, creating a new lifeline and influx of new generation fans for Wheatus, who have after made the promise of making all of their 2013 UK tour dates accessible for all ages.
"The Valentine LP" was made available for free download for a limited time of 24 hours on February 14, 2014.
2014: Only You, European tour
On 6 June the band released their latest single "Only You", written and recorded with Josh Devine and Sandy Beales from One Direction's band. The song was then released in the UK on 6 July to coincide with the band's appearance at Hyde Park at the British Summer Time Festival in front of an estimated audience of 3000 resulting in over crowding the spectator area. The band were joined on stage by MC Lars who provided a one-minute rap throughout Teenage Dirtbag, and members of Hollywood Ending and The Three Dudes.
The same year the band embarked upon a 42-date tour of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Holland, Denmark and Germany for Autumn 2014, touring with Nerdcore Rapper MC Frontalot, Gabrielle Sterbenz and Brooklyn Indie Guitar band . All dates selling well except for Denmark which had to be cancelled last minute.
During this tour, in London, Wheatus were joined on stage with not only Josh Devine and Sandy Beales for 'Only You' but additionally James Bourne (of Busted, McBusted and Son of Dork) for 'Zelda' a song co-written by Bourne and Brown.
Brown, Devine and Beales have additionally announced further collaboration songs to follow up to 'Only You'.
2015: fifteenth Anniversary Tour
On April 15, 2015 Wheatus announced their fifteenth Anniversary tour consisting of 30 shows in the UK, seven in Ireland, three in Germany, two in Switzerland, one in Paris, one in Belgium and one in New York. Plus headlining the Trebur Open Air Festival and Sligo Summer Festival . A new drummer was additionally announced for the tour, Brazilian born Leo Freire who'll replace previous drummer William "Will" Tully, who left due to additional full-time music commitments, to become the band's fourth drummer.
2016: Busted Pigs Can Fly Arena Tour, Seventh studio album
On April 5, 2016, UK rock band Busted revealed that Wheatus, along with Emma Blackery would join them on their Pigs Can Fly Tour 2016. During their tour with Busted, Wheatus will play a few gigs in smaller venues as the headline act.
Wheatus' twitter bio currently states that after their tour with Busted, they'll record their seventh studio album. It will take a more "80s metal direction" following the influences Brown had as a teenager. According to Brown "Album [seven] is almost ready to be recorded and we'll be working on that over the winter and hope to have that done by 2017." Brown revealed that the album's tentative title is Beasts of the Unknown and that the group had 20 songs they were aiming to record this year, until the anniversary tour came up.
- Current members
- Brendan B. Brown – lead vocals, guitars (1995–present)
- Matthew Milligan – bass, electric upright bass (2006–present)
- Mark Palmer – keyboards (2011–present)
- Gabrielle Aimée Sterbenz – backing vocals (2011–present)
- Leo Freire – drums (2015–present)
- Joey Slater – backing vocals (2015–present)
- Former members
- Peter McCarrick Brown – drums, backing vocals, turntables, samples (1995–2006)
- Philip A. Jimenez – percussion, samples, turntables, keyboards, harmonica, banjo, special effects, multiple additional instruments (1995–2003)
- Rich Liegey – bass, backing vocals (1995–2000)
- Mike Joseph McCabe – bass, backing vocals (2000–2005)
- Elizabeth Grace Brown – backing vocals (2002–2007, 2014)
- Kathryn Elizabeth Froggatt – backing vocals (2002–2006)
- Shannon Patrick Harris – keyboards (2002–2004)
- Vanessa Jimenez – backing vocals (2003)
- Michael Bellar – keyboards (2004–2005)
- Nicolas DiPierro – bass (2005–2006)
- Gerard Charles Hoffmann – keyboards (2005–2011)
- Kevin Joaquin Garcia – drums (2006–2013)
- Melissa "Missy" Heselton – backing vocals (2006–2007)
- Constance Renda – backing vocals (2006)
- Johanna Cranitch – backing vocals (2007–2011)
- Georgia Haege – backing vocals (2007–2008)
- Karlie Bruce – backing vocals (2008–2011, 2013–2014)
- Dani Elliott – backing vocals (2011)
- Ken Flagg – keyboards (2011)
- Delaney Gibson – backing vocals (2011)
- William Tully – drums (2013–2014)
- Studio albums