Jim Breuer has been blending metal and comedy for years now. His spot on imitations of Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, Ozzy Osbourne and AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, among others, have been staples of his stand up, even as his brand of comedy has evolved in a more family-friendly direction. His most recent stand-up special, in a nod to Metallica, was titled And Laughter For All. But for his new single, “Santa Claus Ain’t Coming To Town,” he delivers on the potential of being a metal comic, singing in his own voice over an original song. Both somewhat of an anti-Christmas carol and a warning for kids to be better, it’s a potential holiday anthem in the making. Having signed on with a management company that counts Slipknot among it’s clients, “Santa” is the first song from his forthcoming metal album that’ll be out next year. It’s available on iTunes now. We caught up with Breuer about the new song, his transition from comedy to music, and how he’s been endorsed by the artists he imitates.
Let me start by asking about your new single and how it came about. You’ve been a metal head and talked about it quite a bit in your act, but this is an actual song. How’d that come about?
This is something I’ve been toying with for, gosh, fifteen years at least. I tried to intro it a little bit on Saturday Night Live when I was there. When SNL was done, I did a music tour with a band, and then it kind of went away. A couple of years ago, I would get people going, “When you doing that thing with the band again? You know, I saw you with that band and that thing was cool, that was really different,” and I remember even Jerry Seinfeld saying, “I really enjoyed that thing you did with the band.” That made me think, ‘alright, I want to start doing this again. That was a fricking awesome thing I was on to, but I want to do it right this time.’ And what that meant by doing it right was: get good management behind me, which I did, and then get a producer that really knows what they’re doing, and that’s exactly what I did.
The rest of the record will be recorded in January. And when management asked if we could do a Christmas song, I was like, ‘you know what, I know exactly what I want to do and yes I can. And it’s not going to be a fuzzy Christmas song.’ I know exactly what I keep waiting for year after year. Every year I hear this rock band or this metal band with a Christmas song, and I don’t want to hear Christmas songs redone. I want to hear really good, updated, rock/metal Christmas songs. And I keep waiting, so this year I went, “No, this year, I’m gonna do it.” And with confidence with singing, with guys like Halford, and Brian Johnson, and being around Metallica, I was always afraid to step into that world because there is a weird medium there. Where it’s like, “Are you a comedian or a rocker? Are you trying to be a rocker?” There’s a weird cheese element that scares me to death, and I’m not scared of it anymore. I know I can bring it, and I’m going to bring it hard, and I think this is going to be the best project ever put out in my whole life. And “Santa Ain’t Coming To Town” is a great example of what’s coming.
Was it hard to actually find your own singing voice as opposed to just imitating Ozzy, or Halford, or Brian Johnson or whoever?
Yes, it’s ok imitating, but when you’re doing your own thing, it’s really ‘oof.’ Being accepted as a comic imitating someone is another thing, but your own? Oh man, you’re really putting yourself out there. But like I said, I did this years ago and I toyed around with it, and I knew I had the chops. And when I did it with Halford and Brian Johnson, I would hear them say, “Dude, you should do this. You could pull it off. You could totally pull it off.” And I knew I wanted to, I just didn’t know how, or I didn’t want to come off cheesy. So when I went full blown back into it, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t cheesy, and this is not cheesy.
Is this the same group of musicians that you toured with before?
Breuer: No, this was full blown just me and the producer, David Bendeth. We kept trying with some of the band guys I’d been working with, and no one could nail my vision. So they said, “you need an A list producer, go meet this guy.” And I met him and I said, ‘Listen, I’m looking for what I do, which is like stand-up, but make it funny. And I want it to meet Megadeath, and I want it to crank. You need to be rocking in the car and you need to be laughing.’ And I would hum out the tune to him and I would act it out all in front of him and he would crack up just looking at me, and he would go, “Alright, I think I know what you want, I think I know what you want. Let’s go into the recording studio and give this a whack.” And we did, and we knocked it out in about 5, 6 hours. It was one of the best times I ever had in my life.
How much of the other stuff do you have recorded? I remember hearing you on Howard a little while ago playing something you’d done.
Yea, that one was kind of a goof too. That was “Bingo,” where I imitated Halford, Ozzy. I’m probably going to put that on the record or release it before, I’m not sure. But I have not recorded any of the new stuff yet, but I already have locked and loaded five solid ones ready to go with. And there’s about 3 or 4 that I’m tinkering with.
So is this going to be something that you’ll be doing full on, like where you’ll actually tour with bands?
Oh yeah. Here’s the end goal. The end goal is I want to get in festivals. I want to be in the rock world. I want to be in the metal festivals. And then I want to do my own tour, and I want it to look like The Wiggles for metal adults. I want that 1980’s full blown concert look, but you can bring your family and bang your head to it. And you don’t have to worry about strippers and hookers and booze, and all that. I think I’m going to call it “Coming Out of the Metal Closet.” I would call it a character, but basically it’s, I’m not holding this back anymore. There are so many corporate guys that love metal, and they’re so refined, and they’re just dying to let it out, and this is going to be their thung. But I want to talk about things that everyone can relate to. Like with “Santa.” I wanted to be that parent that everyone could listen to the song and go, “Oh my god, this guy lives in our house, this is hilarious.”
That’s one thing about your act, it’s definitely family friendly, and it’s kind evolved to the point where it is now.
It is. And that’s what I want to capitalize on. My dream, by this time of the end of next year, I’moin a full blown tour. It’s a family friendly tour and concert, where I will come out and open the show as a stand-up comic and then when I’m done, you have your break, and then the concert begins.
So is this what you want to do from now on? Both of them? Continue to do stand-up but combine it with the band?
I don’t know if that’s going to be a lifetime thing, but that is where all my driven passion is right now. Nothing gets me more excited than this. I mean nothing. If this was an energy drink, I’d live to 150.
What was it like playing the Orion Fest a few years back?
Oh my god! To me the coolest part of that whole thing was when Hetfield came up to me and was like, “Dude! You’ve got to see the satellite picture of how many people were at your tent.” He goes, “It exploded outside the tent, and just it couldn’t keep everyone in.” And what was more exciting was the next day, there was more people and I could tell who came back. That’s also when I really got the bug to do this. I’m like, ‘You know what, I don’t have any of this recorded, I don’t have any of this on record, and these people are eating all of it up!’ The coolest thing about it was they were doing everything I wanted them to do. Even with the rock hooks, they were chanting and doing everything I want, and then they were laughing when they were supposed to laugh. They were rocking when they were supposed to rock. And I figured, if they’re doing this and they have no clue… Like when you listen to a song, you sit and listen and then you can’t wait to hear it. If they’re doing that without knowing anything, I can only imagine what they’re going to do when they know it. And this time next year if “Santa Claus” hits, now we got a whole different beast. They’re going to be saying the whole song, and I love that.
So have you talked to Metallica, Ozzy, Halford and Brian Johnson about the album?
Yes, and I think they’re going to help me too, with the record.
Whoa – that could be awesome! It would be fine without, but if you get those guys teaming up…
That’s how I feel, I know it’ll be fine without it. But now that the Santa song’s out and they’ve heard it, they’re like “oh, I’ll help you! You let me know what you need.”
That’s happened already? Wow.
Yes, I’ve had some nods. Now until they’re in the studio doing it, that’s a different story.