One of the best things about being in fandom is the way it expands your horizons – introduces you to new ideas, new people, new ways of thinking. You discover things you never knew about yourself, dare to try things you never thought you would, and sometimes – if you’re lucky – end up with a brand new item on your list of ‘stuff that makes me happy.’ We had no idea what to expect from the musical guests at the San Francisco Supernatural con last weekend, and neither did most of the gathered SPN fans. What we did know is that one of our own, actor Jared Padalecki, was passionate about the band – and that was enough to convince fandom to come out and listen.
And we’re glad we did. The Brian Buckley Band rocked the gorgeous 32nd floor ballroom of the Westin St. Francis, with fans – and Jared and Gen – cheering them on. We caught up with the band (Brian Buckley on vocals and acoustic guitar, Mike McGraw on lead guitar, Albert Estiamba, Jr. on drums, and Dan Bodeman on bass) the next day to find out how they got together – and how they ended up playing a Supernatural convention. Not exactly their traditional venue, and in fact, we wondered just how anxiety-provoking it was for the band.
Lynn: So how anxious were you out there? Instead of playing for a room full of people who know your music and have paid to come hear you, you were essentially playing for a captive audience.
BBB: It was sort of a scary moment — after the first song, there was like this little hesitation, like ‘are they gonna….’ And it was an interesting experience, because the fans had gone out on a limb to come see us. I mean, they don’t know who we are. We were in the rest room before the show and someone asked, do you know who’s playing? And we were like um, actually we are.
(Luckily that fan wasn’t saying omg, I heard that the band playing tonight is horrendous, because….awkward.)
BBB: I think you used the correct term – for that first song, the dynamic was interesting because of the whole captive idea. It’s like we were both part of that, the audience was captive and so were we.
Lynn: Kind of like a blind date – does he like me, does she like me, I’m not sure, omg….
From what we observed watching the audience, that uncomfortable feeling of uncertainty didn’t last long – by the second song, the fans and the band had moved beyond the awkward introduction phase and were starting to genuinely enjoy each other’s company. As Brian said, the natural energy in the room kinda kicked in.
BBB: And I think that has a lot to do with Jared being as into it as he is – it kinda gives the crowd a moment of pause where they’re like wait, he’s really into it, so it’s okay to relax and enjoy this. Whereas if he was kinda standoffish and just watched from afar, I think they would do the same. But he’s saying this is something I care about and respect and believe in, and it’s infectious, people are like, I wanna jump into that, I wanna feel that.
Those of you who were there can no doubt vouch for Jared’s boisterous enthusiasm. Whether he was rocking out in his chair, or exclaiming his appreciation to Gen, or jumping up to fistpump and sing along, Jared’s great mood was contagious. We were quick to assure the band that Jared’s endorsement alone wouldn’t be enough, though.
Lynn: If someone you fan likes something, and does a good job of showing how passionate they are about it like Jared did, then fans will give it a chance – but this is also a very discriminating fandom, and if you guys had sucked, I’m sorry, Jared couldn’t have carried you.
BBB: (cracks up)
Lynn: But this fandom, once it takes you in as its own, are the most passionate fans ever.
BBB: Oh we think so too – we’re very excited, and embraced the idea originally when Jared had talked about doing something like this. He’s told me on many occasions that Supernatural fans are the most loyal, amazing, just incredible human beings, so it was a blessing and also a gift for us to do this. I think Jared really believes like we do that the only way you’ll really have an effect, an impact on the world, is through being vulnerable to emotions, through your soul. And that’s why he appreciates the Supernatural fans so much too.
It’s always nice to hear Jared or Jensen talk with such genuine appreciation about how wonderful the fans are – not just as fans, but as people. There’s real mutual respect there, which is something of a rarity in the midst of the entertainment industry. Nice to know Jared sings the praises of fans to his friends too!
Still, the band was nervous. They didn’t know what to expect from the fandom, and the fans didn’t know what to expect from the band.
Dan: It’s like, sometimes you go see a new comedian, and the audience is just like ‘yaa, all right funny boy, make me laugh.’ And sometimes we get crowds where they look at us and you can just see it in their eyes, they’re like ‘all right, music boys, make me dance!’ And if we can get people up, that’s when you know we’ve been doing our job. Even if they’re still in their chairs, if they’re groovin’ a little bit, we’re like all right, we’ve got you.
We assured him there was groovin’ going on last night.
Mike: I have a way of staring at the back of the room, as a way of keeping myself grounded. And I love it when I see people with their eyes closed, because I close my eyes sometimes to really feel it when I play, so when I see that, I think that if they’re feeling a tenth of what I’m feeling, that’s really cool.
Lynn: Well, you’ll be happy to know that I spent the second half of the concert curled up on a sofa in the back bar, not watching you guys or the crowd, just sipping my drink and listening. In fact, I was trying (with the help of the intrepid Stephanie from Creation) to figure out just who you reminded me of – Radiohead maybe? Or Kings of Leon?
BBB (grinning): Those two bands are awesome, those are good people to be sandwiched between – I mean, you could’ve said anybody, so those two are pretty cool.
Lynn (also grinning – and feeling pretty cool herself for having successfully identified at least two of their influences)
Dan: I think the reason it’s hard to define is because we all have such strong – and different – influences. Like I love Radiohead, Sigur Ros, and then a lot of 80s music like The Cure and The Smiths. I grew up on that. But Brian, he loves….. well, he loves the Brian Buckley Band.
Rest of the band: (cracks up)
Lynn: I am NOT putting that in the blog!
Al: I come from the language of jazz, and Frank Zappa, and then Mike, he’s got really eclectic taste as well.
Mike: I’m kinda all over the place…..psychedelic blues, Hendrix, Santana, and then more like soul, R&B.
Lynn: I feel so much better that I was having trouble pinning you down, because your musical influences are really disparate.
BBB: We always joke about that, like it’s funny that we’re in a band together – and like, how did we last? Because we should really be fighting, we listen to such different music, and we all have such different ideas of how music should be.
At this point, we take a little break because everyone in the room – Jared, Jensen, and the band – all have something to drink, and Lynn, frankly, is parched. Dan, the consummate gentleman, jumps up to get her some water, stopping to towel off the bottle with all the flourish of a seasoned waiter. Lynn is suitably impressed.
Dan: If you mention me most in the blog, people will just have to understand why – you know, ‘he got me water, I met him first…’
Lynn: So, I feel like Dan is really the heart of the band….
BBB (collective eyeroll): That’s why we make him play everything.
Actually they’re not kidding. Dan plays keys, bass, guitar, percussion, electronic drum machines….just about everything. Lynn is now even more suitably impressed.
So, how did such a disparate group of musicians get together?
Brian: I started writing music on my own, and Jared produced the first record in 2005. Mike was playing in a different band at the time and I asked him to help out, and we kinda jammed and were like, hey, this is cool. We fell absolutely head over heels in love with Al, who was recommended by another producer. And then Dan and I, we’ve been friends since like 1998. I went to see a play he was in and we just hit it off and ended up being long distance friends.
They asked Dan to sit in on bass when Al was auditioning, and although he hadn’t actually been a bass player, he thought well, this is fun, I can learn a new instrument.
Lynn: Apparently you learned a lot of new instruments.
Brian: So there was never really a moment when we said, let’s have a band. We got together and started playing these songs, and the next thing you know – now it’s like we’re family, we’re brothers in arms.
Lynn (silently) Ohhhh, so there’s the Supernatural connection!
Dan: It was just really natural, it was like the slowest burn. It happened organically. There was an initial chemistry that was there, even when we first got together and we were trying to play the right notes, there was just this really good vibe when we got together and played. The four of us, I think – the sum is greater than the parts. Or whatever. The sum….the addition….the dividend is more….or less…. Damn! I always screw up phrases.
Brian (interrupting with a plaintive sigh): They do their phrases like they do their music….they just put too much into it….
Lynn (shaking her head sadly): They’re really good onstage, but….
Mike: Just don’t let them speak!
At this point in the interview, Lynn was laughing too much and had to stop to gulp the water Dan so thoughtfully and artistically provided. We all took a moment to say goodbye and ‘see you in LA’ to Jared, who was heading out to get ready for the afternoon’s onstage Q&A session, before we got back to business.
Speaking of Jared, I wondered how he and Brian had met?
Brian: I met him in 2003, when a friend of mine was in the movie Cry Wolf with him. He kept telling me what a great guy Jared was, and I was like, no man, don’t be part of an entourage – but one night we went to Jared’s to hang out and he was of course a wonderful host and we just hit it off immediately. Before you know it, he was over at my place or I was over at his place all the time.
We’ve always been impressed with the genuine depth of Jared’s friendship with Jensen, and Brian shared another story that illustrates what kind of friend Jared is. When a very close friend of Brian’s committed suicide, Jared dropped what he was doing and flew out for the funeral and helped Brian and another friend make all the arrangements. Brian was heartbroken over the tragic loss of his friend of twenty years, who was also the guy constantly encouraging Brian to pursue a career in music. One night a week later, Jared heard Brian playing some music for the first time, and immediately said ‘You have to do something with this!’ He offered to produce a record, but Brian was hesitant. After all, how many people actually make it in this business? But Jared was persistent, he kept nudging Brian and reminding him that the offer wasn’t a gift, but something he really believed in and really wanted to do. Eventually he wore Brian down (hard to imagine not giving in to Jared, isn’t it??) and they cut the record, which broke top 10 on iTunes in Europe and led to Brian getting signed by a label. The record was called “For Her”, and has a lovely happy ending romance story for Brian as well.
Brian: And Jared over the years has become a more vocal supporter of the band, because you know, his arms reach quite wide.
Lynn: Literally and figuratively.
Brian: Exactly. And his support is nothing short of priceless, he’s been instrumental (pun mostly intended) to the success of the band, with his undying belief in us. When I get discouraged, he’s the one saying hey man, it’s just another splinter in the ass, keep going.
The band feels lucky to have Jared’s support and enthusiasm, which were much in evidence at the convention show. Brian is also grateful for the support of the Supernatural fans.
BBB: It is really interesting how it happened, how we got together, and I think it comes across in our show too. There’s definitely in our live show the feeling of letting things just happen, a couple of chords we’ll just kinda vamp on for a few minutes, just let it happen, because the vibe is so important. And sometimes it doesn’t go all that well, obviously you’re not gonna please everybody all the time, so to be able to have such amazing fans last night who care enough to listen with their hearts as well as with their ears was really quite cool. We feel very lucky.
Of course anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that we agree – fans are amazing, especially SPN fans. And what an apt description – fandom is so often able to care enough to listen with their hearts, whether they’re giving new musicians a chance or adopting a guest actor as part of the Supernatural fandom ‘family’ or opening their wallets to support the charities Jared, Jensen, Misha or others bring to their attention as being in need. The appreciation that comes back from a group of guys who have just been introduced to fandom just made us all warm and fuzzy inside. Thanks for setting us up, Jared!
Apparently Jared has made a big impression on the band’s family members as well. Dan’s mother met Jared a while ago at a show, and introduced herself to him as “Dan’s mom.” Jared replied, “You’re Dan’s mom? We love Dan!” and gave her a big hug. Dan’s mother, joker that she is, said she’d come up for another show, but only if she got another hug from Jared. (Clearly Dan’s mother has well developed fangirl instincts, of which we heartily approve.)
Dan, joker that he is (gee, we wonder where he gets it….), made sure to tell Jared that his mom wanted a hug. As he was introducing his parents and his niece to Jared at the next show, Jared of course gave his mom a hug, his niece a hug, and his dad a high five and congrats on a job well done. Dan’s niece got back to the hotel room that night and confided that she had never gotten a hug that big before. We’re pretty sure she wasn’t complaining.
So, back to the interview. Who usually writes the songs?
Brian: I usually write the songs and I’ll bring them to the guys and then they all kinda put their stamp on it, they all bring their own gifts to the table, so once again it’s really organic. We’ll just kinda jam on it and relax and if it starts to happen, great. There’ve been times when we’ll start playing and the vibe’s just not there and then it’s like, let’s stop.
Dan: It seems like lately we’ve just been writing together, these little jam sessions we’ve had together in the studio when we’ve been rehearsing. Bye Blue Sky, the first song we played at the concert last night, is a song we wrote together.
Lynn: So what was your first thought when Jared said hey, you should come play a Supernatural convention? Were you like, a what?
Dan: How much does it pay?
Lynn: Very good answer. You’re the heart of the band, right?
Brian: No, (seriously), we were actually really excited about it. Jared’s told me many times about the conventions and how supportive the fans are. We were with a British label for two years and it didn’t go well and we decided to split from them. But one of the things that labels offer, other than distribution (which you don’t need anymore with the invention of iTunes) – but you do need a label for marketing. Having a campaign is so incredibly expensive that anything we can do as a band to get our name out there – not even necessarily to consume, but just to have an opportunity for people to hear what we do – we’re grateful for. And Jared was like, listen, these fans are amazing, they’re so good to us, you should play for them. And we were like let’s do this, it’ll be fantastic – and it was, just exactly the way he’d explained it.
Lynn: YES! Fandom rocks!
Actually that’s not what she said, but it’s definitely what she was thinking. Instead she regaled the band with academic jargon. *eyeroll*
Lynn: Because we’re academics, we have to make up strange words for things. So the idea that once you’re into a certain fandom, you tend to expand your interests, like an actor on a show you like introduces you to music he likes, and then you give it a try and maybe you like it too. We’ve been calling it fandom bleed – it’s almost a viral thing.
Brian: Well, we’re looking forward to any sort of positive feedback. The fans last night were great.
Dan: I saw one fan this morning, and she had the (band’s) shirt on, and I think it was the first time I’ve seen anybody wear it and I was like HEY, I like the shirt there!
They promise to bring more to LA, if they get to play the Supernatural con next month. So let Adam and Gary at Creation know if you’d like to catch the Brian Buckley Band at the LA con, because they’d love to come play for more Supernatural fans.
Speaking of being Supernatural fans, I asked Brian if he actually watched the show his friend is on.
Brian: I’m an avid watcher! I tell Jared constantly – actually I’ll text him all the time after the show and demand answers.
Case in point:
Brian (after Sam came back a little off in Season 6): Why did u do that??
Jared: Dude, you’re getting a little too into this.
Brian: How did Sam get back from hell? I need to know!
Jared: I don’t know. The writers don’t tell us anything.
Brian, like most true fans, was not above a bit of persuasion to try to find out some spoiler scoop. He wrote a song to sing at Jared and Gen’s wedding, but would only agree to perform it if Jared told him what was going to happen on Supernatural.
Yep, totally fanboy
After hearing about Jensen for literally years, Brian finally met him at Jared’s wedding, which resulted in mutual “ohhhh, so I finally get to actually meet you!” Most fans know that Jared and Jensen love to tease, and Brian fits right in, as their conversation at the wedding attests.
Brian: So Jensen, when you get in arguments with Jared, really, who usually wins?
Jensen: Honest, I know it’s hard to believe, but we just don’t!
Before we ended the interview, we debated the relative merits of Lynn (whose skills don’t actually include photography….) taking a photo.
Lynn: Do you want me to take a photo for the blog?
Mike: Eww, we’re all sweaty from loading up the gear.
Lynn: Do you not want me to take a picture?
Dan: As long as you photoshop whatever blemishes you find.
Brian (deciding to consult the expert at being photographed in the room): Jensen, should we go shirtless or what?
Jensen (deadpans): That’s what I usually do.
Lynn (rather petulantly): What?! You have never once offered to do a shirtless photo for our books!
Brian: I think I’ll keep my shirt on.
The photo came out just fine, shirts and all, and as the band headed back to LA and Lynn headed back out to the convention floor, Brian added a heartfelt message for Jared.
Brian: I just really want to say that Jared has been integral to what we’ve done so far, to all our successes. And he’s just one of the most phenomenal human beings.
We couldn’t agree more.
And we were also touched by what the band had to say a few days after the con about what phenomenal human beings the fans are as well. They were blown away by how supportive the Supernatural fandom had been after their show. “These fans are so lovely,” they said – “from so many different walks of life, they come together to celebrate art in its many forms.”
Fandom bleed at its finest.
Check out the Brian Buckley Band at: