Five Minutes with the New Blood Revival's Brett Neilly
by Mike Doktorski

NBU and New Blood Revival bassist Brett Neilly go back a longway, to the days when Brett performed regularly at NBU's long-standing music series at the Budapest Lounge as a then-member of Bionic Rhoda. These days, Brett holds down the low end for the New Blood Revival, one of the most exciting and promising acts to emerge from New Brunswick in years. Led by charismatic singer/songwriter Matt Witte, the NBR recently inked a recording contract with none other than Atlantic Records, and are currently prepping to record their major label debut. In a recent e-mail interview, Brett graciously took the time to answer some questions from NBU about how the New Blood Revival got to where they are, and where they're headed from here.

NBU: When did the New Blood Revival form, and how did the band originally come together?
Brett: Matt [Witte] had been performing around here since '96 or so at Marita's. My friends from Clyde's introduced me, we knew [saxophonist] Andy [Chen] from Victor Diggs, Fatty Lumpkin and [drummer John] Swayne found us at the Moon I think. We gigged as that band (basically) from late '99 until about a year and a half ago when we added [guitarist Danny] Wacker, Finney and Adam.

NBU: Where was your first gig? How did it go?
Brett: First gig was at the Harvest Moon. It was fun but I'd be willing to bet it was sloppy as hell.

NBU: When you first started gigging, was there some point at which you all thought that you might really be onto something?
Brett: Well, yeah. Pretty much right away. The crowd reaction and draw was immediately strong. Matt writes great songs and we all get along musically very well so it's hard to pass that up. As you know all too well it's a miracle to get 3 or 4 people that can write and play together well. Let alone 7. Sheesh.

NBU: How did the Atlantic Records deal come about?
Brett: We did dozens of showcases in the last year for many, many labels and finally Atlantic was the one that believed in us enough to give us a deal. We play a lot of different kinds of songs so it's hard for labels to immediately think of an audience we would play to. The good people at Atlantic just realized that we can play to a lot of them (maybe even at the same time - sounds like a festival of some sort, hmmm...) and gave us a shot.

NBU: So what's the game plan for the NBR? Describe what you see happening over the course of the next year.
Brett: We are going on a quick southern trip next week to Chattanooga, Athens and Atlanta then some other shows at the end of May. We're opening for Everclear a couple of times down south and then The Roots and Medeski, Martin and Woods at The Great Bamboozle at the Stone Pony. We're also getting ready to go in the studio and record an album with David Kahne, who produced many great things like Fishbone and Sublime (amongst many others). After that we will tour alot and hopefully release the album towards the end of the year and then tour a lot some more. We're trying to get on some festivals this summer as well. Then tour some more. Alot.

NBU: You'll probably all get to buy new gear. So what's the dream rig for all the NBR members?
Brett: There will be no spending sprees just yet. But if I had to guess, Wacker would get alot of Marshalls and Custom Strats and the like. It's hard to say with Witte. His current guitars and amps are all beautiful vintage things so he might have his dream rig right now. Swayne is actually sponsored by Maryland Drums as we speak. They made him a special snare. I would want basically the newer version of my current rig, which I love. Did you hear that, baby? I'm not even going to ask the horns what the hell they want. They'll ask for guns or ammo or something dangerous.

NBU: Is your major label debut going to be all new songs, or are you going to re-do some songs from your other albums?
Brett: It's really too early to tell. It could be all new (we have tons of new stuff) but there might be a previously recorded song rewritten/arranged for the album or some stuff that we play live now but haven't yet recorded. Honestly, we won't know until its over.

NBU: The NBR was able to establish a huge "buzz" by establishing a dedicated local fanbase but without doing a shitload of extensive touring. How did you figure out that this was the correct strategy for this band?
Brett: You're implying there was a strategy or a plan of some sort and I don't like it one bit, Mike! We just played a lot, took all the gigs we could and focused a lot more on writing, recording and performing live than touring. We have played up and down the east coast a couple of times but that's about it. We're just psyched we get to tour now.

This interview was originally published on in June 2003.

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