“Quarantine brings clarity.”
That’s tireless Milwaukee troubadour Brett Newski, speaking (remotely, natch) about his forthcoming album, Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down. The album was written and recorded before the current global crisis (its release date was pushed back a month), but its title and themes are strangely prescient.
“I know it’s a terrible time for many, but the virus is going to get people off the hamster wheel and have a healthy new perspective,” Newski says. “It will give people much more clarity as to what’s a priority in their lives.”
For many years, Newski’s top priority was touring. Time spent touring in Europe, Vietnam, and various Wisconsin Walmarts was common. These days, however, the plucky alt-rocker (dubbed the “loudest acoustic act ever” by Daytrotter) is finding stability in doing what we’re all doing: staying at home.
“Being off the road has been very important,” Newski says. “I hadn’t had a break from tours in eight years and I feel I was teetering on the edge of burnout.”
There’s no burnout apparent in Bastards, a self-described “call to arms against whatever destructive forces we may find ourselves battling.” Take the album’s final track, “Fight Song,” for instance. It’s a gorgeous, desperate-teenager-at-1 a.m. ballad that tears your heart out (“Sitting in silence is one of the worst ways to fall asleep,”) before offering a beacon of power and hope (“There is still a fight song left to write”). According to Newski:
“High school was a pretty brutal time for me as a kid. It was a social territory war and people were pretty mean to each other. I didn’t have much self-confidence, which invited more abuse. People will become friendlier and more appreciative of each other after quarantine is over. I do believe this.
“I wrote ‘Fight Song’ for my future kid. I’m thinking I’ll give it to them before they enter high school…if high schools still exist in the future.”
Never one to sit still (check out his discography), Newski recently launched a web series called “Killing Time In Quarantine.” The singer says he hopes the series will provide “comic relief in wobbly times.”
As for Bastards, the album will be released on April 17. You can pre-order it HERE. A release show has been set for October 17 at the Captain Pabst Pilot House. Want to support the ever-busy Newski? Check out his Patreon HERE, his merch store HERE, or his Spotify streams HERE.