Vol.38 Jeremy Brunner / September 2014

Jeremy Brunner

The new 80s hard rock project X-DRIVE features rookie guitar player Jeremy Brenner, along with big names in the scene such as vocalist Keith St. John from BURNING RAIN, bass player James Lomenzo formerly from MEGADETH and WHITE LION, and drummer Fred Fischer. X-DRIVE’s debut album “Get Your Rocks On” features catchy 80s hard rock music written by Jeremy Brunner, which creates a magnificent blend with Keith St. John’s emotional vocal performances, reminding the listeners of the glorious arena rock days. Jeremy Brunner, the central figure of X-DRIVE, talks to MUSE ON MUSE about the “Get Your Rocks On” album, as well as about his musical background.

Interview / Text  Mamoru Moriyama

Translation         Louis Sesto (EAGLETAIL MUSIC)


Muse On Muse : At what age did you begin to take an interest in music? Tell us how you started listening to music.
Jeremy Brunner : For as long as I can remember, since I was a child.  I remember seeing an old home video of me before I could walk where I was bouncing back and forth to the music. I grew up in a small town, so I really listened to the radio a lot.  There were compilation albums that I would listen to on vinyl and old 8-tracks that I would find at a local department store. Early on, I wasn’t introduced to any particular band, just whatever was on Top 40 radio. My parents always had the mindset that buying an album was pointless as the only good song was the one on the radio.

MM : What kind of music and artists did you listen to back then? Tell us about your early influences.
JB : Quiet Riot was the first introduction to this type of music, then I found Van Halen.  After I heard “Jump” from the 1984 album, I went back and bought all their other albums. I liked RATT, Dokken, and others, but I didn’t limit myself to just that as I also listened to top 40 radio and still do.

MM : After picking up the guitar, what artists/songs did you learn to play/copy? Tell us about your early days with the guitar.
JB : I learned Dokken and Van Halen songs at first, from a series of audio cassettes called Learn to Burn by guitar instructor Curt Mitchell. Later, I learned by listening to a lot of music over and over and once I got some chops I started playing along to the cassettes.

MM : What did you learn from the artists/songs that you learned to play/copy in your early stages as a musician?
JB : I learned the basics of chords, soloing techniques, tapping, and I used some of those styles and started to do my own thing with them.

MM : When did you decide to become a professional musician? What were you doing prior to your release with X-Drive?
JB : I never decided to become a professional musician, I always just wanted to write original music of my own and work with a singer to write with. I started a mail order business when I was very young, and that has allowed me to pursue some musical goals.

MM : How did X-Drive manage to get a release?
JB : That’s a really good question. I was very fortunate to get hooked up with Frontiers, and that they believed enough in my music to invite me to the label with it’s amazing roster for a worldwide release.

MM : Keith St. John from BURNING RAIN and James Lomenzo formerly from MEGADETH are part of X-Drive. How did they end up being part of X-Drive?
JB : I was searching for a singer and was given Keith’s number and then from there we started emailing each other, and sending tracks back and forth. I had auditioned quite a few other singers by that time, but none of them seemed to fit. After Keith sent me one song, I knew immediately he was the right voice for my music. I met James when he and Keith were playing in Lynch Mob and talked to him after the show and asked him if he’d be interested in playing on the project.

MM : What was the concept for the album “Get Your Rock On”?
JB : There is no concept for the album as far as a theme, musically the concept and motivation of the X-Drive album was to find the best singer and style to fit the music I had written.

MM : Andy Johns who was producing your album unfortunately passed away in April 2013, which was during the production of the album. Andy Johns was well known for his work as an engineer with Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, as well as producing Van Halen, Joe Satriani, just to name a few. How and why did you have Andy as producer for your album?
JB : When I first relocated to Los Angeles I met someone at a studio who knew Andy, and they gave him a call. He wanted to hear some of the music, and I sent him the “California” track, he called me back not long after and told me he liked it and wanted to do the project.

MM : How was it actually working with Andy? Was there anything in particular you were able to learn from him in regards to producing an album?
JB : He was my favorite person to work with out of everybody I dealt with. He really took in interest in my music, for instance, sometimes when I would be messing around on the guitar with different riffs he would hear it and say “What is that?” and I would say “Just an idea I was working on” and he would ask me to show it to him. Just things like that were very encouraging and I was impressed at how gracious he was to me. He was a very genuine guy. I’ll miss not being able to work with him again. As far as things I learned from him in regards to producing, he listened to one of the songs, and right away, by ear, he knew that the track needed to be adjusted by just a few BPM faster and I was amazed at what a difference it made to the whole song. Also I was told by almost all engineers previous to Andy that some of the tracks were totally unusable due to extremely poor engineering. But he wasn’t worried at all and made it sound great.

MM : The album features many guitar riffs and tunes that remind us of 80s hard rock. How were the songs for the album written?
JB : I come up with all the music, and present it to everyone else and they play their parts.  I write the guitar and piano parts, and the other musicians are free to play and interpret much of what they contribute.  sometimes, with Keith, he will hear the verse as a chorus or a chorus as a verse, and make a suggestion to change them around, and that can work well. That’s pretty much the whole writing process.

MM : Many of the guitar solos are played in a style that also remind us of the hair metal era from LA. Tell us about your approach to guitar soloing.
JB : I don’t really have an approach at all, nothing I do is pre determined or thought out. I never sat down and deliberately tried to write a song or a solo. When it comes to the guitar solo I just start soloing and whatever comes out, comes out.

MM : “Baby Bye Bye” is a very melodic power ballad and the guitar solo sounds very emotional and beautiful.
JB : Thanks! I really like the way the solo turned out on the that one too. A singer I had worked with before Keith had the idea to make this a duet with a female singer about a breakup. The first verse was the male’s point of view and the second verse was the female’s. I even had a female vocalist on the track on an early demo. This idea was scrapped by Keith later on.

MM : “California” has a fresh, but yet also a very melancholic vibe. This definitely sounds like a tune that would appeal to the Japanese audience.
JB : Thanks. That would be great, that song is an all around fun, feel good song and I hope it appeals to all audiences.

MM : The acoustic guitar mixed with Keith’s voice on “Change of Heart” seems to create a great match. Definitely another melancholic and great tune. 
JB : Change Of Heart is my favorite song on the album. I thought Keith really shined the most on this one. The background vocals and keyboard parts Keith added were great. It was the last song Keith showed me, he obviously saved the best for last.

MM : How was it actually playing on the album with Keith, James and Fred? Can you pick out one song for each member that you think displays the best performance of that member?
JB : It was a pleasure working with people at this level of musicanship. For Keith it would be Change Of Heart. James Lomenzo’s bass playing on California really added something special.  Fred would be Love Breaks The Fool – I think the drum outro is awesome.

MM : Please tell us about each song on the album. How were the songs created and what kind of feelings lay within the song?
JB :
“Love’s A Bitch”
Awesome opening track. I think it’s the best solo I played on the whole album.

“Get Your Rock On”
Keith gave it a real Def Leppard vibe.

“Steppin on The Rock”
This one went throught alot of changes. I gave it to Keith and he totally rearranged the music. What I felt was the chorus Keith thought should be the verse. So we switched it around. It really worked well and had a heavy dark vibe to it.

“Baby Bye Bye”
One of the very first pieces of music I ever wrote. Love the way the solo came out on this one. The chorus has a real Bon Jovi-ish vibe.

The poppiest and most radio friendly tune on the record. I love the key change at the end.

“Lay Me Down”
Sort of a dark mid-tempo rocker. I really love the how the bass sounds in the mix and the chorus that Keith came up with. Also love the way the song builds.

“Turn The Noize Down”
Straight ahead rock. Killer verses. Also loved the solo on this one too.

“Fly Beyond The Angels”
I wrote this on piano. I really like how the last line of the song is “heaven’s gonna fly” and how the piano fades up and out representing heaven.

“Rattlesnake Eyes”
Cool key changes. After all of the key changes I originally wanted the vocals to be acapella at the end in the original key but the idea was scrapped later.

“Just Can’t Stay”
I wrote the verses in a different time signature and the tempo gets slightly faster in the chorus. I thought it made for a unique combination. I remember Wyn Davis did not like the time signature change and said the song was schizophrenic.

“Change of Heart”
Keith did alot rewrites on this one and the end result was my favorite track on the whole album.

“Love Breaks The Fool”
This one had a lot of retracking of the drums as they sounded too busy during the chorus originally, so we simplified it and it really seemed to work for the better. The double bass part at the end is awesome.

MM : Please tell us about your gear. What guitars, amps, effectors, foot pedals did you use for the recording.
JB : I’m not much a gearhead or guitar collector, believe it or not I’ve had the same guitar since I was 20, a Washburn KC-40V. Between that time and now I think I have purchased only two electric guitars and didn’t like the way they sounded and ended up reverting back to the Washburn guitar. In regards to amps I tried everything from Marshall to Crate to Peavey, fancy pedal boards etc. and eventually ended up with a Line 6 amp that I really like. During recording I used Line 6 plug ins on Protools, also Line 6 Pod and Amp Farm.

MM : What do you have coming up next? Tell us about your upcoming schedule.
JB : At the present just to promote X-Drive. The next single is “Get Your Rock On” which there will be a music video for. As for future music I’ve already recorded 30+ new songs which I am very excited about. I don’t know what the future holds as far as touring but we just got an offer for a festival and we’re thinking of doing the CD release party in Boise, ID as Fred (the drummer) has a large following there from his previous band Midline.

MM : Please give the Japanese fans a message.
JB : The response from Japan has been great and I’d love to play there in the future.


X-Drive official site : http://www.x-drivemusic.com/


01. Love’s A Bitch
02. Get Your Rock On
03. Steppin on The Rock
04. Baby Bye Bye
05. California
06. Lay Me Down
07. Turn The Noize Down
08. Fly Beyond The Angels
09. Rattlesnake Eyes
10. Just Can’t Stay
11. Change of Heart
12. Love Breaks The Fool

Bonus Tracks:
Lay Me Down (Mellow Mix) Japanese Bonus Track