One of the highlights of the Nashville Supernatural convention for us was the opportunity to catch up with the immensely talented Brian Buckley, one of our favorite people. He’s not only an amazing singer and songwriter, he’s genuine and caring and really really good at empathy. Which explains why the first part of our interview with him was actually a therapy session – for us!
We had just published Fandom At The Crossroads, and we were frankly terrified. Six years of research wasn’t just an intellectual exercise for us – we were Supernatural fans, passionate emotional invested fans — and Crossroads was full of not only our academic thoughts about fandom, but our fannish ones too. We wanted the book to be honest – just as the fans and actors and musicians and showrunners we interviewed had opened up and shared their personal thoughts in the book, we had shared ours too. Now Fandom At The Crossroads was for sale on amazon.com, and we were petrified. We cared about this book.
Brian instantly understood our dilemma. In fact, he came prepared – thoughtfully grabbing a few beers for us to share while we talked. We were extremely grateful. And thirsty.
Lynn: When you put out your very first album, were you really nervous too? Worried that you were putting your creative work out there, and waiting to see what comes back. Were people going to like it?
Brian: Terrified! I was utterly terrified. I can’t stress enough – anxious is a simple word for how I was feeling. You’re releasing yourself to the hounds, and you’re not gonna please everyone all the time. There are people who are gonna despise it, even though you put your heart and your love and your energy into it.
Us: *biting fingernails* YES! That’s exactly where we are right now!
Brian: *nodding empathically* With any sort of medium or art, when you’re writing or writing music or acting or directing or painting, half the fear of actually giving birth to it is of having an ugly child, you’re really scared that a friend is gonna look at your kid and go um, oh, it’s so pretty….
He was right. The book was our baby, and we were waiting to see what the world would think, biting our fingernails. In fact, we were a lot more nervous about this baby than we’d been about the actual babies we’d both managed to bring into the world!
Brian: People are gonna say what they have to say, and you just have to deal with it. And fortunately and unfortunately, we live in a time of social media, so we’ve got people saying things out loud in a platform they didn’t have before.
Lynn: Twenty years ago, if you put out a record or a book, you might read a review from the major periodicals if you were lucky. Now everyone and anyone can weigh in, completely uncensored.
Brian: I remember once I was looking at some user comments for a band that I loved, and one of the members had passed away tragically. And people were writing negative things about this guy right in the aftermath of his passing. And I looked at it in horror, because courtesy of the internet, people have a voice they never had before, and if they’re pissed off at their lives, they jump on there and start firing bullets.
Us: *looking alarmingly pale and sort of nauseous*
Brian: But flip side of the coin, it can be amazing and beautiful! So it’s a slippery slope sometimes, but when you put everything you have – which I know you did into this book – you have no regrets. Had you decided not to create this, it would never have been created. And I would rather have people be completely pissed off or completely love it than to have someone be indifferent.
Interestingly, that’s the same thing Eric Kripke told us when we first asked him what he hoped for from fans of his (then) relatively new show, Supernatural. The mindset of creative geniuses like Eric and Brian, clearly!
Brian (still in therapist mode): I for one can’t wait to read it. The first time I held my record, I held it in my hands and I cried, like I had just watched Rocky 2, I couldn’t control myself. Because you put years and countless hours into this thing, and then it’s like sending your kids off to college, like okay, time to go out of the nest.
Like all good therapists, Brian had some practical advice for us, to deal with the empty nest syndrome of having launched Crossroads from the nest.
Brian: I do the same thing, I get depressed so I start writing again immediately after I finish a record.
Lynn and Kathy: *get back to working like mad on Fangasm*
Brian is a damn good therapist.
We took a little break from our interview, which we were doing backstage, to admire the invisible hellhounds (and their owner) in the Creation costume contest. Talk about creativity! Brian wished them luck and said they had his vote. Then, with Lynn and Kathy feeling much calmer and a lot happier, we managed to ask Brian about all the good things happening for him and the Brian Buckley Band.
Brian: It’s been going really well – podcasts, streaming concert vids, live shows. And we got commissioned to write a soundtrack for a film! We’re under contract so we can’t really talk much about it, but we’re very excited. And we’ve been playing like crazy, and have a record we had finished with a pretty big producer a couple years ago that we weren’t able to release, so we’re releasing that finally in June or July. And this soundtrack allows us to be us, but in a more image-driven cinematic way.
Kathy: Do you get creative control?
Brian: Not for the score – the film is based on music, so it’s song oriented. The score I would never touch, musically I’m not capable of doing that. This is exciting because it lets us be us, but in a medium that we’ve never gone after. We’ve had songs in television and film, but having one song placed is not the same. For this, you have to follow the story, not strictly, but if you look at like Eddie Vedder did with Into the Wild, those sort of soundtracks, it’s a musical entity all in itself but it correlates with what’s happening in the movie.
The band is also playing a lot and touring too.
Brian: It’ll be a coastal thing at first, west then east, then trying to do some more festivals in middle America.
Lynn: *with fangirl squee* Come to Philly!!
Kathy *with equal fangirl squee* Come to DC!!
Brian: I’d love that, both DC and Philly. I’ve never been to Philly.
Kathy: DC has the number one venue, rated by Kerrang.
Brian: I love that Lynn just said “whatever”.
Lynn and Kathy: *are glaring at each other*
Brian: So we’re juggling so many things at once, and it’s exciting but it’s a lot of pressure. When you’re under the gun and you don’t feel totally prepared, that’s when you do your best work. For years we were just pushing to get something done, and then as soon as you land something, then boom! And you’ve just gotta keep your head down and keep going, momentum is the whole thing. We feel like if you want any sort of longevity, you’ve gotta outlast everyone else. A lot of people decided to do art as a career but not as a life choice, if that makes sense. They go oh, I wanna do this because I like these things about it, look how exciting this is, but they don’t realize that it affects your life in such a greater way than you could ever imagine. And they’re eventually like, white picket fence sounds better. Being an artist is a blessing and a burden.
Us: But it feels like – for us, we have to write, or we’d be stifled and just exploding.
Brian: Oh, 100%, yes. I would be totally and completely devoid of any happiness, completely depressed. And that’s what differentiates people that might like the idea of doing something and the people who are born to do it. That sounds kinda elitist but it’s not that – it’s being willing to kinda take the hits, and a lot of people just aren’t. You guys did it and then you have to allow it to be reviewed. You can’t keep saying, no it’s not ready and keep second guessing it forever.
Us: *are looking a bit pale again*
Brian: (back to therapist mode) And even any of the negative stuff we’ve ever heard has really helped us. What happened with our record label, it was the biggest high and the lowest low. And you get down to that point and then you say well, how badly do we really want this and what are we really made of? Are we gonna just lie down and take it or fight, and say ‘you’re never gonna kill the will that we have.’
Us: *are nodding*
Brian: And now you have two more books that you’re working on. I’m so proud of you guys. But writing a book seems so much harder to me.
Us: No way. We don’t have to perform it in front of an audience! (Thank god….that would not be pretty, trust us…)
At this point, Sebastian Roche (Balthazar) joined us for a few minutes, mostly to discuss the slightly inebriated fun we’d all had at karaoke the night before.
Brian: Sebastian gave me too many beers. And Matt kept passing me a beer as he took off his shirt.
Us: That sounds about right.
Brian: Matt ran around shedding shirts like….. I don’t know what analogy to use. And at first I didn’t know why he was doing it, then I was like, ohhh he’s selling tee shirts, that’s genius!
(Last night’s conversation:
Brian (to Richard Speight): Richard, why don’t you do that?
Richard: Shut up.)
Brian: The guy is phenomenal, he really cracks me up. This is such a good group of people. They’re amazing. I got to finally hang out with Kim Rhodes too, and she is just a lovely human being. She’s very funny, you don’t realize how funny she is.
We agreed, since we’d just had lunch with Kim and were as taken with her as Brian was – in fact, look for our next blog post soon for our chat with Kim. As always, we’re struck by how close everyone who’s been involved with Supernatural has become, largely through the cons.
Brian: It’s easy to come to these cons and feel totally at home and at peace. Not only has it helped the band, but I’ve gotten to know wonderful human beings. Richard’s great, Sebastian’s really cool, and everyone is so nice and supportive and kind and loving. I’ve been hearing about Rob Benedict’s band (Louden Swain) for a while, and they’re fantastic. Me and him and Jason Manns are gonna do a show together in LA, like a Supernatural themed show. Steve (Carlson) is hard, because he’s in and out of LA a lot, but we wanted to get everyone together and have a good time.
Suddenly there were screams from the audience out on the convention floor (voting for their favorites in the costume competition, but we couldn’t see that from backstage)
Brian (laughing): I thought maybe that was Jared sticking his head out!
Us (silently): Totally understandable.
So how is Brian’s buddy Mr. Padalecki? We heard that Brian had recently beaten Jared in a game of Words with Friends.
Brian: Yeah, but we’ve played 200 times and I’ve beaten him twice.
Lynn (supportively): But it’s recent…
Brian: True, that makes me feel better. But the fact of the matter is, he’s like a grand master and it’s kinda scary. He’ll use a word like skewbucilus. What exactly is that and how did you score so many points?
Kathy (skeptically): Are you sure he isn’t just making words up?
Brian: I wonder sometimes.
Us: Is it true that you’re thinking of doing a video with Jared? Can we say that?
Brian: It’s absolutely true. It’s not set yet because of the band’s and Jared’s schedule, but we’ve been talking about it. He’s the one who brought it up to us, like hey, we should do something like that one of these days. Of course, we’ll audition him first.
Us: (nodding sagely) Of course. Make sure he can do a good acting job.
Brian: (laughing) He’s gonna be incredible. He’s got such a passion for what we do, and he gets it, you know? And he’s one of my best friends, so that helps too. So I’m excited because I haven’t been able to do something like that with him yet. Hopefully in the next few months. It will depend on the stars aligning, but all parties involved want to get it done. We’ve been talking about what we wanna do and I think we found one that we’re really excited about. It’s a song from Hysterical Blindness.
Kathy: How long does something like that take?
Brian: It depends on production value, like is it a narrative, is it straightforward linear, is it like a story line or are you shooting images to create a story? The thing is, you don’t have to worry about sound because it’s a song, you do that after, so in that respect it’s cool because a lot of cost goes into post production for sound as opposed to the effects – like, when he takes a bite of steak, does it sound like he’s chewing and did a plane go over right at that moment? This, you point and shoot and deal with it later. So you just have to elevate the senses in order to really dial in what you want to get tonally and emotionally from your images, so it’s a lot cheaper, although that said when MTV was at its height those were going for a couple million dollars, but that’s ludicrous. The director who did “As If”, he’s amazing, incredible, and he’s the kinda guy who’s like, we can shoot this for nothing, and here’s why, let me show you. It’s nice when other artists kinda look out for you financially. Sarah Wilson is the director of the one we’re gonna do with Jared. She directed a film called Jelly, starring Natasha Lyonne – directed and wrote it, a brilliant artist, so we’re excited to work with her.
We’re excited too! Hmm. Wonder what part Jared will play?? Ideas, fandom??
Brian is also excited about the new addition to the Padalecki family.
Brian: I told Jared I wanna be referred to as Uncle Buck from now on. I’ll just look at the baby and be like hey, I’m Uncle Buck.
Sebastian Roche came back to join us for a while, and talk turned to karaoke, cons and the Show that brought all of us together – and how much Jared and Jensen being such great guys has to do with its success.
Brian: And I think that’s why they (Jared and Jensen) have so many fans, because people can sense that and they’re very acutely aware of it. When they come to cons, and why this show has gone on for seven years, it’s because they love what the show does. It’s like there’s this great quote, “the less you know about me personally the more you’ll believe me as an artist”. But these things are a part of this current society, these cons, and these guys are so accessible and so lovely to their fans that it makes you go, you just made me feel even better for caring about this, and letting other people know about it etc etc, so I think that’s a lot to do with it.
We couldn’t agree more.
We wanted to add a special goodbye to bassist Dan Bodeman, who’s leaving the band for personal reasons at the end of the month. Dan was our first introduction to the BBB – we were having lunch with Richard Speight at the San Francisco con in early 2011 when we ran into Dan in the hotel elevator and struck up a conversation. We’re so glad we discovered the BBB’s incredible music – and we wish Dan the best of luck in all his future endeavors. We’ll miss you, Dan!
Come out and experience the magic of the Brian Buckley Band live – upcoming shows here: http://www.brianbuckleyband.com/