The prolific pop-art band Wetbrain are back with their third release in less than two years, “Things You Think You Thought You Knew.” The band is pictured clockwise from upper right: bassist Ryan Grebel, guitarist-keyboardist Rudy Meier, guitarist Nick Kaelblein, and drummer Nick Aufiero. PHOTOS BY COOLDAD
One of the Asbury Park scene’s most underrated bands, Wetbrain consist of four high school pals who grew up together in Point Pleasant and Brick. Prolific AF, vocalist-guitarist-keyboardist Rudy Meier, guitarist Nick Kaelblein, bassist Ryan Greble and drummer Nick Aufiero recently released the band’s third record in less than two years, “Things You Think You Thought You Knew,” which is the case with a Pink Floyd-like sound that actually owes a nod to Radiohead. My bad!
Anyway, Wetbrain got a false start in 2013, but then Meier and Kaelbein joined the Asbury national act Dentist for a year a so and released a 2016 album with them entitled “Ceilings.” Meier marched on with Wetbrain, essentially playing most of the tracks on last year’s debut LP, “A Certain Light.” Then the four-piece came together to play shows behind the record and release an EP, “¡Quebrado!,” six months later.
With the Ray Bradbury-like entitled “Things You Think You Thought You Know,” the prolific progressive-pop band deserve to be appreciated more. The record’s many layers surprisingly only took two weeks to record with Pat Noon at Eight+Sixteen/Trax East Studios in South River and not surprisingly were masterfully mastered by Alan Douches of West West Side Music (Dillinger Escape Plan, Clutch).
Hopefully, the exceptional record will take Wetbrain far from the Jersey Shore, but in the meantime, they’ll play Nov. 2 at EJ’s in Seaside Heights with The Barrbarians, Baron Praxis, and Judo Chop and Nov. 15 at The Pharmacy, Philadelphia, with Earth Telephone and Cavewoman.
Question: When Wetbrain released their first album last year, it was pretty much a one-man band with Rudy playing most of the parts with a bit of help from Nick. What was the transition like into a four-piece band, and how is that better than a one-man band, and how not?
Rudy: The transition into a four-piece band was pretty seamless. Grebel was a big fan of the first record, and he also grew up with Nick and me. As kids, we always wanted to start a band together since we hung out every day anyway. It was the same story for our first drummer, who Nick Aufiero later replaced.
Q: Nick, why was it worthwhile to leave Dentist for Wetbrain?
Nick: It was worthwhile because I wanted to play guitar and have a hand in writing.
Q: When Wetbrain released the first album, Rudy had all those songs at the ready, but then you released another 17 or so songs, which is a lot of output in a year and a half. What is the songwriting, creative and recording process like for the band, and how does it enable you to be so prolific?
Rudy: We don’t really have any one specific process, but typically, I’ll bring a song to the band, or someone will bring an idea in, and we try it until it unfurls naturally. By the time we get into the studio, we’ve rehearsed the songs so meticulously, that it’s mostly about capturing the best performance.
As far as being prolific, I just don’t do much other than write songs, and the four of us work really well and really fast together as a unit and as friends, so it gets me excited, and we write more songs, and the cycle goes on.
Q: So you are from Point Pleasant. Did you go to school together?
Rudy: We’re from Point Boro and have been inseparable since high school; Grebel as well. It’s always been the three of us. Nick Aufiero went to school in Brick. We knew of him through mutual friends and vocational school for recording.
Q: Were you in any bands together before Dentist?
Nick: The only band we were in together prior to Dentist was when we tried and failed at starting this band back in 2013.
Q: What pleases you the most about "Things You Think You Thought You Knew" and why?
Rudy: What pleases me the most about the album is how quickly and painlessly it was recorded. From top to bottom, it took a little less than two weeks. Easiest time I’ve ever had working on a record.
Nick: I love the mix of the record. I think it sounds really clear and real. I also love the amount of ground covered in terms of genre.
Q: From where did you get the title of the album and why did you want to use it?
Rudy: The title was something I had come up with a few years back. We decided to use it because it’s a bit of a tongue twister and just confusing enough to get you to think about what it means.
Q: Was I correct in detecting a Pink Floyd influence on the band? If so, comment on what that band means to Wetbrain. If not or in addition to, what music has influenced Wetbrain to create the Pink Floyd-like element of your sound?
Rudy: I don’t think any of us really have an obsession with Pink Floyd in particular, but we also don’t NOT like Pink Floyd. I feel like that element of our sound is primarily influenced more by bands like Radiohead, The Flaming Lips, Minus The Bear, and a bunch of trip hop stuff. We just like weird noises, honestly. Plain guitars get real boring real quick, but we also don’t wanna carry a bunch of keyboards around.
Q: I really like that the album combines a strong pop sensibility with experimental rock. There are other bands based in the Asbury area who have a similar sound, such as Deal Casino, The Cold Seas and Sonic Blume. To what extent have you played with any of them?
Nick: We haven’t played with any of those bands yet. They probably don’t think we’re cool enough because we shop at Walmart.
Bob Makin is the reporter for www.MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And like Makin Waves at www.facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.