Brian Wheat (TESLA) Exclusive Interview
Legendary Bassist for the band TESLA talks with Rockbandreviews.com at the grand opening of the new Wentworth Gallery located in the new Seminole Hard Rock Guitar Hotel in Hollywood, Florida.
Wheat is on-hand to showcase his second love to music which is photography and art that he has merged together on canvas and on Hofner bass guitars. Wheat talks about his first guitar, meeting Paul McCartney, Photography, painting, and Tesla.
Q: It is widely known that you broke your leg when you were 12 years old and it was while you were recovering that you took up the 6 string guitar which eventually brought you to the 4 string bass. Do you think if you never broke your leg that you would be on this rock n roll rollercoaster ride?
A: Yeah. It started when I was a kid. The first album I ever heard was Revolver by the Beatles. I was the youngest of six children. The reason I think I picked thsat record was because of the artwork on the album cover . So I know I wanted to be a musician from a very early age, especially when I heard Eleanor Rigby. When I broke my leg at twelve, my mom felt bad and bought me a guitar and the reason I wound up on the bass was because the guitar had six strings, while the bass had four, and Paul McCartney played bass, whick is why I play the Hafner brand bass guitar. I am of the opinion that on the eighth day, when God finished resting on the seventh day, he created Paul McCartney. On the ninth he created Freddy Mercury, Jimmy Page on the tenth, and then he had to rest again.
Q: I know that you are a Beatles fan, especially Paul McCartney, which is why you switched from the 6 string guitar to the 4 string bass. With the thousands of bass players out there at the time, what was it that specifically drew you to Paul?
A: It was the whole thing, it was Paul as a singer, as a song writer, as a bass player. It really all started by hearing that voice on Eleanor Rigby. That voice spoke to me and I learned that he was a bass player and a songwriter and all that. As far as a bass player, I think He is one of the greatest bass players ever to play the bass. because he's got his own style for what the song requires. I think nthat there are a lot of people that would say that he is one of the greatest bass players, but he is so much more than a bass player. I mean, he's Paul McCartney.
Q: Have you had the chance to meet or play with Paul McCartney?
A: Yes, I have met Paul a few times. I have never played with him, but I have met him.He was very nice and polite.
Q: Before Ross Halfin handed over that Leica point & shoot camera to you, did you have an interest in photography or was it developed after receiving the camera?
A: No, but Ross is a really, really good friend of mine , one of my best friends. That's haow it all started, we would just go on vacations together to like Vietnam, Burma, or Thailand, or wherever, to places I have never been. So there were always these vacations with him and he would always be taking pictures because that's what he does and he hands me the Leica (camera) and goes "Have fun, do whatever", and I just started taking pictures. he's got a pretty good eye. I don't know the intricasies of the camera and all that stuff, but I really just shoot from the gut. that's kind of like, I really don't read music, or can't write it on paper, but I just play it. So I see what I like and just snap it. I have developed my photo skills a bit since then. I use a Nikon now and I have Leica, and an IPhone. I pretty much use whatever. It depends where I am.
Q: Do you still have the Leica?
A: Oh yeah!
Q: How did you go from photography to enhanced photography?
A: I was on a boat, we were doing this cruise last year, and I was at Rick Allen’s art show on the boat and I had met Christian [O’Mahony, owner of Wentworth Gallery] and showed him my photography. I asked him if next year can we do an exhibit of my photographs. He said to me that he doesn’t do photographs, that he just does fine art, but would I consider painting on my photography. I said I never had. He said why don’t you try it. I said thast I am not a painter and he said, "Sure you are". He said, "Send me some images and I will send them to you on a few different formats". So, I smaoked a little grass, put on the White Album and I gravitated towards the things that were on canvas and started experimenting at that point making giclees, a photograph transferred to a canvas, and now I’m showing my work at Wentworth.
Q: What is next for you in the art world and with TESLA?
A: Tesla just finished the tour for this yearand just put out an album that did pretty well called Shocked. We start back up in February and Tesla has been going on for thirty-five years and I think it is going to continue until we drop. We tried to break up once in "95 and that lasted five years and we couldn't do that right (laughs). We are still together longer than we were the first time. As far as the art, I'm just gonna keep on going and see where it takes me.
Come out and see Brian Wheat at the Grand Opening od the new Wentworth Art Gallery at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino during this limited Engagement taking place on October 24th, 25th and 27th.