Wheatus frontman Brendan B. Brown doesn't live at home any more. But he didn't mind going back there to record his group's self-titled debut album, featuring the song "Teenage Dirtbag."
"It was great," says Brown, 26, the oldest of three Long Island, N.Y., children, whose mother, a musician herself, didn't mind the cacophony a bit. "We only got shut down once by a neighbor, [when] we were working on drum tracks real late, like 1 in the morning. Other than that, it was us playing, and Grandma making sandwiches for Phil [Jiminez, Wheatus' percussionist] over and over again — white bread, bologna and cheese. She made him three sandwiches, not realizing she'd made them already. She came over to me at one point and said, 'Do you know there's a strange man in the house?'"
Grandma also made a sonic contribution via Maggie, her pet Welsh Corgi, who can be heard barking in the background of the second verse of the track "Hump 'Em and Dump 'Em." "I actually got the dog for her," Brown says, "so I guess I was entitled to have her on there."
Brown says he and his bandmates were pleasantly surprised that their label, Columbia, allowed them to produce Wheatus themselves, since most new bands are micromanaged by their record companies.
"They wanted to put out the demos we had given them," Brown remembers, "and we said 'No, no, hold on, give us a month. Give us a chance to make it right.' But Columbia really, really supported us, as far as our ability to produce ourselves — I mean produce, engineer, set up the mics, everything. We didn't hire anyone to do anything; it was all self-contained.
"But we know how to do it cheap," he adds. "I hear about hundreds of thousands being spent on some albums, and we could make one for $10,000. It's not some big, mystical experience only a few hobbits know about and know how to do."