Canada’s The Metal Voice recently spoke with Tesla’s Bassist Brain Wheat about his new book “Son of A Milkman‘ Which was released December 1 2020 via Post Hill Press.
Why did you feel you had to write a book?
“I talk about this early in the book when I was in therapy in 1990. The doctor said one day you should consider writing a book, I think it would be helpful with you and your anxiety and stress and letting shit go. I said yeah sure I’m gonna write a book in 1990, no one gives a fuc*k? He said it was part of his therapy for me to just write it down so I can let it go. So I said yeah cool whatever but I didn’t write anything down just kept going through my life. But when I hit 50 (years old) eight years ago. I thought to myself I’m 50 years old, I’ve been doing this Tesla thing for about 25 years maybe it’s time to write a book about my life, maybe someone will be interested. Now when the book comes out I’m 58 Tesla has been a band for about 35 years so it’s time.”
Which part of your career are you most proud of?
“I said in the book that I am more proud of the second half of Tesla’s career than the first half and I’m not talking about the records I’m talking about the band persevering. The second half our career has been us all on our own doing it ourselves and that is what I am really proud of. The first half we had the big giant machine we had Q Prime (Management), Geffen Records, we had MTV we had all these things that help make bands big. But in the second half of our career after we got back together it’s all up to us to carve out a niche for ourselves and we did and I am really proud of that.”
What was it like to be on tour and open for David Lee Roth? Is he the same person we see on TV?
“He is always in David mode, to be quite honest with you I only spoke to him one time the whole tour. We walked in a room and it was all David mode, that whole it’s Dave TV thing, that was my take on him. Like I said I only got to spoke to him one time and he wanted to manage the band (Tesla). Talk about coming out of left field he said guys I really want to manage you. We are like whoa ok well we got this management Q prime you heard of them and that was it.”
Describe the relationship between Tesla and Def Leppard over the years
“Def Leppard are kind of like our big brothers and mentors. We started out with them when we were just starting to develop. After David lee Roth (Eat Em and Smile Tour) we went on the Hysteria tour. They took us under their wing and even before that we kind of modeled ourselves after them. We used to play their songs when we did covers. And me and Joe (Elliot) just bonded one night in New York in rehearsals for the American tour over Paul McCartney, when he came into Frank’s (Hannons) room. We both had this love of Paul McCartney and Wings and we just connected with him and we have always been really good friends ever since then. Joe is the same guy now that he was then, never changed. We like playing with Def Leppard, the show is a good show, both bands together makes for a good show, it’s just a good match.”
You met Def Leppard before Tesla right, what was it like meeting them back then?
“I met Rick Allen and Pete Willis when I was a kid as a fan, I met them on the High and Dry (tour) and I went back to their hotel and smoked weed with Pete Willis and Rick Allen and then four years later I am on tour with them, it’s like weird? Pete Willis was really short and he had these little elf boots on but he was really cool and then one of my friends that was with me said something that kind of pissed him off. And Rick Allen is the exact same Rick Allen from that night at that Holiday Inn after the High and Dry Tour to today.There is a strong bond between Tesla and Def Leppard, I think they look at us like we remind them of themselves when they were younger but they are not that much older than us.”
How did you develop a relationship with Jimmy Page and you’re not even a guitar player
“Probably cause I’m not a guitar player and I met Jimmy backstage at Hammersmith Odeon London with my good friend Ross Halfin who is like Jimmy’s brother. When I met Jimmy, Ross said don’t fanboy out on him. Jimmy Page said to me that day, I really like Five man Acoustic Jam I think it’s great. I said excuse me? Five Man Acoustic Jam your Record. I said I didn’t even think you knew who I was? Page said of course I know who you are, you’re Brian in Tesla we are on the same label. He said I love you record, you’re the first band to do an all live acoustic album and just from that we just became friends and now we are really good buddies he is the one who got me into collecting vinyl records again.”
On a side note is Tesla working on a new Studio Album or doing any live streams since there are no live shows?
“I don’t think so, I don’t know, Tesla is the kind of band that feeds off the crowd, it’s a live experience, when you say live it’s live. It’s hard for us to do that, that’s probably why we were not that good at doing videos. We got approached earlier for that and said no. If we don’t end up playing this year maybe we will do just one purely for the fans. Maybe more of a round table interactive thing. In regards to new material we have to be in a room together. My buddies in Def Leppard are making a record and the members are in different places all over the world and they send files to a central place in Ireland. Tesla can’t make a record like that, that’s not how we do things. And God bless them for being able to do it but we just can’t. We are very much in the old school kind of way.” I think the next record will go a different way a bit more organic instead of so produced (like the last one) and maybe we will try to do this one on our own.”
Brian Wheat is far from your typical rock star. As bassist for the multi-platinum band, Tesla, he’s enjoyed the spoils of success and lived the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle to the hilt. But it came at a cost, one that took years to repair. In this deeply honest and utterly revealing memoir, Wheat sheds light on the many challenges he faces, including bulimia, weight issues, and the crippling anxiety and depression caused by his conditions. Just like the songs his legendary band made, this is no-nonsense, bluecollar storytelling at its best. While revealing the vulnerable human behind the bass guitar, this autobiography also offers tremendous stories of life on the road, and collaborations and encounters with legendary figures like his pals in Def Leppard, David Lee Roth, Alice Cooper, and Paul McCartney. Son of a Milkman will entertain, surprise, and inspire.