JANUARY 31, 2021

ROCKWiRED NOTES: BRAD HELLER one needs to be reminded of the power of COVID-19 to knock the best laid plans to the ground. Recently, I found myself kicked to the ground by the virus with minimal symptoms and a two-week isolation period that had me questioning my life up to this point. But now the virus is behind me and back doing what feels normal. Another fellow who has come to understand the power of our current pandemic to level hopes and dreams is singer songwriter BRAD HELLER. In late 2019, HELLER had released his latest album THE SENTENCE to a string of promising reviews and an eagerness to hit the road in the Spring of 2020. Unfortunately, a mysterious virus from China began seizing the headlines and little by little the already shaky infrastructure of the independent music industry found itself paralyzed by social distancing measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. Oh, and let’s not forget one of the nastiest Presidential elections of all time. Despite not being able to tour, HELLER has managed to keep the album in eyes of the public through positive critical notices and a music video for the album’s single ETERNAL GARDEN.  At the end of 2020, music critics were laying the usual hossannahs on  BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN's latest offering A LETTER TO  YOU and deservedly so. However, HELLER is a singer songwriter cut from the same blue collar cloth as SPRINGSTEEN  and has tons to say about the  fragile human condition in these uncertain times.

ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak with  BRAD HELLER over the phone at the start of the 2021. Here is how the interview went.

Your album THE SENTENCE has come out at a very cahllanging time. Describe what it has been like to keep promoting the album despite the hit to the music industry because of the pandemic.
It's been quite a challenge actually. I released THE SENTENCE back in mid-August of 2019 and just as I was getting ready to get to touring for it in 2020, the pandemic happened and changed everything. Before you knew it, no one was able to tour. Even with all of the touring coming to a halt, we've managed to keep the album and the music on people's radars with some music videos and the album has managed to get some great reviews in spite of everything that has been going on.

What other plans do you have for getting this album out there for people to listen to?
We're going to continue to push the album this year. We're going to continue pushing the album until midway through this year. We have a series of one-off shows lined up. It's all tentative because who knows how long this pandemic is going to last and who knows when people are going to be able to gather again and see a show. I haven't given up on promoting this album. However, I am going to be heading back into the studio to finally start work on the follow up album.


How is this album different from your previous album AMERICAN BURDEN?
Just like I was telling you at the top of the interview that Albuquerque and Tucson are sister cities. THE SENTENCE is like a sister record to my previous album AMERICAN BURDEN. Whereas that album was more political in tone, THE SENTENCE comes from a more personal place. A lot of the material was inspired by loss and personal tragedy.

What songwriters helped you in finding your own voice as a songwriter?
Well, I grew up on music from guys like NEIL YOUNG, JOHN FOGERTY and BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN where the music had to be relevant and when music is relevant, it can apply to any moment in time and still resonate with people. That's what I try to do as a songwriter.

I understand that you are working on music for new album. What is inspiring this new music and how will it be different from THE SENTENCE?
The music I'm working on for the upcoming album is inspired by more social issues. There is no way around writing about stuff like that. In 2020 I lost a couple of jobs so the plight of the working man is going to find its way into this new music. I love diving into the storytelling. Sure it gets kind of dark but I use melody and rock n roll to keep it lively.

At what point did mid music-making become the thing that your were going to make a living at?
I'd love to say that it was always with me but truthfully I was a late bloomer when it came to music. I was always an athletic kid growing up and when I was in college I played college baseball. So I had this athletic career that was really taking off yet I always enjoyed music and enjoyed the craft of it. I didn’t really get into music making until I was in my early thirties.

Describe the songwriting process for you. How do you go about it?
Sometimes it starts with a melody. Sometimes it’s a chord progression, lyrics or just a theme. I’m always writing and I usually find that the best time for me to write is late at night.

There is a definite proletariat feel to the music of this album. Where does that come from?
With my music I try to be the proponent of the underdog just like SPRINGSTEEN or NEIL YOUNG were with their music. There is just a wealth of material you can mine when you take that approach and you address themes like class, race and gender. Songs like that have weight and they mean something.

You are solo artist but you've got a backing band called THE FUSTICS.
THE FUSTICS are my road band. It’s a quartet of guys. The music is all mine and these guys are there to flesh the sound out for live shows. They are all guys that live here in North Carolina. These guys are long time friends and long time bandmates.

What songs off of the album have you the most excited to get people to hear and why?
I really love the title track. It’s very similar to another song on the album called GONE which has this real western feel. Another song I really like off of the album is THE RUNNER which has this strong Mexican motif. The song is about smuggling humans.

ETERNAL SEASON is a great choice for a single and music video!
ETERNAL SEASON is a song about living forever. It was supposed to be the title of the record. I wrote it while I was on the road and heading to Memphis. I wrote the song piece by piece and it’s got this nice WILCO sound.

Another song that sticks out for me is GARDEN TREE.
THE GARDEN TREE is the last song on the alum and it’s about a dream sequence about this tree that was planted in Arizona. It’s about my father who was a surgeon by trade but was really into horticulture and how he tended this tree over the years.

With the album THE SENTENCE, what is the big idea? What do you want a listener to come away with after they hear it?
That what they are listening to is music that is coming from a thoughtful songwriter. As a songwriter I want to take people on a journey. I want people to come away from this album thinking that they have been on a good journey and that the music was enjoyable and thoughtful.

FOR MORE iNFORMATiON GO TO: Lush is a music industry professional and entrepreneur. In 2005 he launched the online music site to help promote new music artists in conjunction with the weekly radio show Rockwired Live which aired on KTSTFM.COM from 2005 - 2009. In 2010 He launched the daily podcast series Rockwired Radio Profiles which features exclusive interviews and music. He has also developed and produced the online radio shows Jazzed and Blue - Profiles in Blues and Jazz, Aboriginal Sounds - A Celebration of American Indian and First Nations Music, The Rockwired Rock N Roll Mixtape Show and The Rockwired Artist of the Month Showcase. In 2012, Brian Lush and his company Rockwired Media LLC launched the monthly digital online publication Rockwired Magazine. The magazine attracts over 75,000 readers a month and shows no signs of stopping. Rockwired Magazine also bares the distinction of being the first American Indian-owned rock magazine. Brian Lush is an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Brian Lush's background in music journalism, radio and podcast hosting, podcast production, web design, publicity, advertising sales, social media and online marketing, strategic editorial planning and branding have all made Rockwired a name that is trusted and respected throughout the independent music industry.

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