HOBO THE BRETT- NEWSKI Is Looking For a New Sky

Interview by: Pham Chieu    Photo: Sweet Chucky B

Saigon has become a magnet to many foreign artists from all over the world because of the city’s youthful and exciting vibes. They contribute a Western side to the local music scene. We have carried out some interviews on some of the outstanding ones. Let’s start with Brett Newski, the self-proclaimed American hobo and co-founder and guitarist of his band, Brett Newski & The Corruption.

HCMC Life: What led you to this country?
Brett: The motorscooter transportation system. The abundance of “thumbs up” signs and smiles from random strangers. The Pho.

HCMC Life: Do you define yourself as a wandering musician or you not found anyplace to settle down?

Brett: Music is something I can’t live without. No matter how good or bad things get, I always feel like music has my back. It’s the best medicine not prescribed by doctors. While the income is meager, the freedom is addicting. Not having a permanent residence over the past year has been a challenge, more mentally than physically. Nevertheless, touring is still a dream and I’ll do it forever if my body and mind permit.

The following statement is cliche, but true… the road is lonely and cruel when you trek it for too long. The people you meet on the way are ghosts in a sense. No matter how much you want to keep them with you, they’re gone within a few days. Everyone is on their own mission. Their own route. I have started to accept the fact that I’m somewhat of a hobo.

HCMC Life: Frankly, what do you think of our local music scene?

Brett: The local music scene in Saigon is ripe. People are eager to see new music. It’s very much a blank canvas for creativity. While it’s small, it will boom soon.

HCMC Life: Which artists inspire you the most? While some musicians adore the modern and creative value of contemporary artists, the others still honor and appreciate to classic musicans. Which one are you?

Brett: Artist that inspire me most are the lifers. The guys that won’t quit. There is this South African artist Matt Vend & the Tender Ten. I love him. He’s not the best singer or guitarist in the world, but he’s got so much damn heart that it makes his music powerful as hell. The guy is in it for the slow burn, and so am I. He finds a way to tour his ass off no matter how little he has in the bank. We are joining up on a South African Tour this September.

Okay, do you ever hear a song that just hits you so hard you just start crying? That happens to me about once per year. I wish it happened more. I’m surprised I just told you that.

I’m also keen on singers that cannot sing. Bob Dylan, The Violent Femmes, Neil Young, to name a few. Their raw voices are what make them great. I cannot sing in a conventional sense. I wouldn’t make it past the lowest security guard at American Idol. But I will bring the heat at every show and get as sweaty as possible on stage.

HCMC Life: Some description about your new album: inspiration, genre, story, your aim to launch it?
Could you describe your new album? What inspired you? What genre is it? What’s it’s story and what did you hope for when it launched?

Brett: Our new album is called “Saigon at Night”. I feel we owe it to the city. It was recorded here and Saigon has done a lot for us and kept us afloat as musicians. Our first effort as BRETT NEWSKI & the CORRUPTION. It’s straight rock n’ roll. Real guitars, real drums, and vocals void of autotune. I WILL sing a bad note on this record, I promise. No laptops, no loops, no bullshit. We’ve got this dude called Mean Matt Green on drums. And this other dude called Jeffro on bass. They are a great rhythm section and very loyal. We hang out all the time and we’re going to be cramming in a crappy van and touring the US together this summer until our money runs out.

HCMC Life: What are your plans over here?
Brett: Saigon feels like home. I will be here awhile.