TESLA bassist Brian Wheat, who is promoting his just-released autobiography, "Son Of A Milkman: My Crazy Life With Tesla", spoke to Meltdown of Detroit's WRIF radio station about how the rise of grunge in the early 1990s forced most hard rock bands off the radio and MTV, with album and tour sales plummeting.
"We never really listened too much to what anyone else was doing; we only kind of did what we did," Brian said. "Where it caught us off guard was that the year before, we were the record company's champions — they loved us, and they had been loving on us for the last four or five years. And when the grunge thing came out, they were, like, 'Well, we might drop you.' And we were, like, 'What? What are you talking about?' Because [1994's] 'Bust A Nut', I think, sold seven hundred thousand copies, and the last record before that had sold over two million, or close to two million. So you have a gold record, and there's word coming around the campfire that the company is gonna drop you, even though you've sold a gold record. So that's where we got caught off guard, and I think that really demoralized us and led us down this path of destruction that we were on in the 'Bust A Nut' time period. It certainly didn't help. It kind of added to the angst and the things that we were going through and the doubts that we may been having. And then we broke up right after that. And the joke I always make is that it shouldn't have been called 'Bust A Nut'; it should have been called 'Busting Up'. Because when I look back upon it now, the whole thing, how it was put together and what was going on, we were really kind of unraveling at the seams."
Wheat went on to clarify that TESLA "didn't break up because of grunge. We broke up because we had been going non-stop for 10 years, and, at that point, maybe the drugs and alcohol kicked in a little too much," he explained. "We really just needed a rest; we didn't really need to break up. But we did, and I'm glad we broke up, because it taught us a lot. It taught us to appreciate the band again. By the time we got back together in 2000, we realized that we had something special, and we let it go, and that we needed to cherish it a bit more. And we do to this day."
In June, the members of TESLA got together — virtually — to jam out a quarantined version of "Breakin' Free" as part of their online series "Home To Home".
The original recording of "Breakin' Free" appeared on TESLA's 2008 album "Forever More".
"Son Of A Milkman: My Crazy Life With Tesla" arrived on December 15 via Post Hill Press. In this 304-page hardcover book, Wheat lifts the lid on living the rock 'n' roll life while struggling with anxiety, depression and other issues seldom discussed by musicians.
"Son Of A Milkman" features a foreword by DEF LEPPARD vocalist Joe Elliott, and was co-written with award-winning journalist and author Chris Epting, whose titles include "Adrenalized" (co-written with DEF LEPPARD's Phil Collen) and "Change Of Seasons" (co-written with John Oates).
Wheat co-founded TESLA, which became one of the biggest bands of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Brian owns a recording studio by the name of J Street Recorders in Sacramento, California. PAPA ROACH, TESLA, PAT TRAVERS, DEFTONES, KODIAK JACK, FLASHFIRES and many others have recorded there.
TESLA spent most of last year touring in support of its latest album, "Shock", which was released in March 2019 via UMe. The follow-up to 2014's "Simplicity" was produced by DEF LEPPARD guitarist Phil Collen.