Brendon James Wright
KNOXVILLE — Brendon James Wright was once a regular on the Knoxville circuit, playing several shows a week either as a solo act or with his full band Brendon James Wright and the Wrongs. After a long period of inactivity, Wright looks to begin the arduous task of slowly rebuilding his brand, this time on his own terms.
Back in March, Wright canceled what shows he had scheduled to cope with his father's recent death. Wright describes the task of re-establishment as one he is still apprehensive about, but something that needs to begin now if the band is to continue at all. He acknowledges that the return will be a slow process, having sacrificed his substantial momentum.
"It's been kind of slow really," Wright says of recent months. "My dad passed away this summer. It was kind of a long and drawn out five-year battle with cancer. So we got into our hot time of year to book, and I had to tell the guys 'sorry.' So this will be the first time that we've played since March as a full band.
"It was kind of to the point where if we didn't do it now, we might have broken up. It was just time to get back out there. Personally I don't know if I'm really ready to start playing again, but it had to be done. It was now or never."
Compounding the longevity of this rebuilding period was Wright's decision to limit his number of outings per week. The weighty choice to begin a regular job after years of exclusively playing music for a living was actually the result of Wright's passion for playing. He explains that when living solely off his music, selecting shows was a matter of quantity over quality that ended in recurring bar gigs overloaded with cover-heavy sets that weakened his enthusiasm for live shows.
"That's a big change," admits Wright of limiting his performance frequency. "I don't do that anymore. We really don't want to do so many bar gigs. We want to play original music all the time. That's been a huge transition over the past couple years. I was making my living playing music, but not necessarily the kind of music I wanted to play, to now playing what I want to play. It's the first time since college I haven't made the majority of my income on music.
"I feel like I'm not as hardcore as some of the people playing around, and it was a huge decision to take on a day job versus playing all the time, but I feel like, artistically, it opens up more because it's on my terms."
With his focus shifted toward showcasing only original music, Wright will ultimately need to release new work. The last album put out by Brendon James Wright and the Wrongs was 2007's self-titled release. While Wright says that his original catalog for live sets extends beyond what is recorded, he also admits to a case of writer's block. With enough loose ideas to flesh out an album once completed and polished, he explains that there is in no pressure to hastily rush a product that doesn't meet his standards, and that he expects completion of a new batch of material will come naturally upon reaching closure with trials in his personal life.
"It's bad, I know," Wright admits of the four years since his last release. "Until it's right, and until it's ready, we're not just going to put something out because it's been a while. I want it to be an actual album and mean something. I guess my approach is not the best approach as far as making money. I think I'm in the longest stretch of writer's block in the history of mankind. I understand it. My personal life has been in shambles, and I think I've learned that it's really hard to write about things that are going on in your life when they're still unresolved.
"2011 will be a lot of getting back in the swing of things. It's a big deal to cancel all of your shows. It's taken a lot of time to get that momentum. It's like stopping a freight train; once it's stopped, it takes a while to get rolling again."
Bone thugs: The Pilot Light hosts Skeleton Coast, Stolen Sheep and Recto Verso Friday night. The show starts at 10 p.m. and costs $5.
They're here; get used to it: Long-running New England pop-punk act The Queers will play The Longbranch Saloon Thursday, Oct. 27, on a bill that includes local bands Teenage Love and Your Favorite Hero.
© 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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