Invisible Jewel

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Ask Bryan



Here Bryan answers questions submitted by his fans and visitors to this site. He is going to try to do this on a fairly regular basis, so hopefully we will have something new every couple of weeks. If you have any questions, send them to

October 14, 1998
September 5, 1998
July 20, 1998


October 14


Have you made any live tapes of HOF shows?


Oh yeah, there are plenty of live tapes of the Freaks. I don't know how many of them I still have, but I'm sure there are a bunch still floating around. There are some video tapes of us as well. One show we did on the Santa Monica pier in LA right after "Tantilla" was released. Great fun and probably the peak of our career in LA.

What was your craziest double-billing?

Joe Hunter

The weirdest double-billing? Hmmmm ... I do remember The Indigo Girls opening for us at the New Music Seminar back in '88 or '89. That wasn't weird, but no one came to see them, since they hadn't released their first record yet. I guess our tour opening for the Bangles was a pretty lousy pairing. They were touring to support their last record, which was very, very light girl pop and their appeal had focused to the pre-teen fan. We came out on stage every night, with torn jeans and unshaven and sweatin' and those young girls just went crazy. Not for us, mind you ... but rather because it was, for many of them, their first concert and they were excited as hell. They didn't give a damn who we were.

Some shows I remember being talked about but, thankfully, never materialized: A show with bands with weird names—House of Freaks, 10,000 Maniacs, 4 Non Blondes and Toad the Wet Sprocket (jeez, what a concept); the two man band show ... Hof, Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper, Flat Duo Jets ... it was not to be.

We did play our share of bum gigs, but I have mercifully blotted them from my memory.


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September 5


Just wanted to thank you for the great HOF tunes!

HOF lyrics tended to be dark and cynical. Has the change of your priorities to your family changed your approach to song writing, i.e., less dark and more hopeful?


My lyrics tended to be much darker than I am personally. I feel that I have generally had a pretty healthy outlook on life (that is a balanced perspective—not overly optimistic, yet not grossly pessimistic). It's just that one tends to be more, introspective when one sits down to write lyrics. I did try to work through some questions I had about life and death and I used my songs to search for answers. I'm not sure that I ever found those answers in rock and roll, but I think I've come pretty close to knowing why I'm here on earth since my daughter was born.

To be honest, I don't think I've written a single song since my daughter was born a year and a half ago (unless you count "Peas on My Knees" which I sing to Stella). However, I think you have to be hopeful about life when you have a child ... you owe it to them.

Are you able to produce and distribute new material without having to promote it by touring and performing i.e. leaving the family?

It does make it more difficult to keep a career going in music when you don't perform. The record companies depend on the band tours. That's how they gear up to do their job. They need the band to promote their own records. I understand that and that's why I'm not interested in getting US deal. I don't want to tour the US anymore ... it takes too long. I don't want to leave home for that long a time.

You know, the rock biz is perfectly suited to young single males. They're the only ones who'll travel around the globe for no money for months on end sleeping on floors and eating cold pizza. We older guys want more out of life.

Have you gotten the kid a guitar of her own?

Stella does not have a guitar. She does have a little stand up toy piano and she occassionally sits on my lap and plays my piano. But I think she's looking like she'll be a dancer.

Keep up the great work and looking forward to more!

An Ashburn, Virginia fan and father of two,
John Detrich

Thanks for the questions ... happy fatherhood!

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July 20

I know how you feel about your daughter, I have a two year old daughter. Have you been able to write any songs about her or influenced by her (like you did "I Got Happy" about getting married to your wife)? What label is it that may release your solo album? Will we be able to import it to here in the US? What can you tell us about the songs on the solo album?

Remember that there are HOF fans out here that would love to get your solo album. I think "Tantilla" is one of the 10 Greatest albums in rock history. Good luck with your family & music.

Brian Cottrill
Lost Creek, WV


Thanks, Brian, I'm flattered you think so highly of "Tantilla" ... just wondering ... what are the other nine greatest rock albums on your list (just want to know who my peers are). [Editor's note]

My daughter, Stella, is incredible and a real handful. I don't think I've written a "real" song since she was born. I've noodled around a bit on the piano, making up songs for her. Her favorite is "Peas on my Knees" (a far cry from "White Folks' Blood" ... but more pertinent to me these days).

"I Got Happy" was about me & my wife. My life has been very different since I met her. A real change in priorities ... that is probably why my musical output has been so little since then. And I did get happy.

I am planning on releasing my record in Portugal on a label called Movietime. I don't know about a US release yet. No release date is set, since I haven't really started recording it.

Actually, I recorded an album's worth of material on an 8 track recorder (the very same one used by Mark Linkous on his first Sparklehorse record), at home. I planned to release it but then shelved it for some reason. All the songs were recorded between the summer of 1995 and February of 1996. The songs are all very personal and somewhat tragic, reflecting what was going on in our lives at the time. I think they hold up well now, and that's why I've decided to dust them off and release them.

When I started the recording, I was searching for something different from HoF, and struggled to come up with parts that Johnny used to provide. After a few weeks I hit my stride and I wrote and recorded dozens of songs. In Feb. I wrote a song called "Tell Everybody Hello" and I knew that was the end. It will be the last song on the record, and it was the last song I wrote ... maybe the last one I ever write, who knows.


Editor's note

Just for the record, Tantilla is on Brian Cottrill's best albums of the 90s list, along with:

Lou Reed—New York
Don Henley—End Of The Innocence
House Of Freaks—Tantilla
Matthew Sweet—100% Fun
John Mellencamp—Big Daddy
Michael Penn—Free For All
Ian Hunter—Hunter/Ronson YUI orta
Paul Westerberg—Eventually
Dave Edmunds—Live, I Hear You Rockin'
Byrds—Best Of 20 Songs from Box Set

However, Brian also calls it out as one of the best records in rock history. Here are its counterparts:

Rolling Stones—Beggar's Banquet
Velvet Underground—Loaded
Bob Dylan—Blonde On Blonde
Creedence Clearwater Revival—Chronicle
Sex Pistols—Never Mind The Bollocks
Graham Parker—Squeezing Out Sparks
House Of Freaks—Tantilla

Interestingly enough, no albums from the 80s made it onto this list. Brian Cottrill has a band called Drain Babies, based in West Virginia. If you would like to find out more about them, or read what else is on Brian's list of favorite albums, check out his web page at:

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