On the latest installment of Joe Bonamassa’s hit interview series Live From Nerdville, Joe chats with Brandon Taz Niederauer of the successful Broadway musical "School of Rock." See the full video here.
After introductions, Joe commends Brandon on his excellent reputation, "Let me just start off with speaking on behalf of the 40+ guitar community when I say this: To have your skills and poise at the age of 17, it’s so impressive and we’re all collectively rooting for you, but also slightly jealous at the same time! It’s one thing to be able to play we know there are wonderkids and prodigies all over the place, where we can sit in front of the camera and play, and everyone says 'wow' that’s impressive and then there’s the jump to performing on stage and taking charge of it! You have that, that’s the unteachable stuff!" – JB
Then, Joe draws parallels between their similar upbringings as young performers in the music industry who both started before high school. Joe asks Brandon about his time with "School of Rock" and asks how it came about. Taz says that he just picked up the guitar and just started playing and shortly after realizes that this is what he wants to do for a living. He was playing shows with his friends at 8 or 9 and thought to himself "this is the coolest thing ever! I then get to play at bars which was even cooler!" When he took on the part in "School of Rock," he didn’t realize that he had to act as well. But the production got him the help he needed with the acting side of things.
Then the two get deep into touring and how it compares to Broadway. The theatre life is very disciplined with a rigid schedule of 8 shows per week. Joe asks Taz how he handles the workload. Taz says that it started out as a constant struggle but after awhile things started to ease up.
Joe comments that the pay must have been pretty good and Taz agreed. "I had an apartment in the city, it was a studio apartment in Times Square. You can’t get any better than that!" Joe then asks him what some of his career goals are at 21,30 and age 40? Taz replies that at 21 he would like an album or two, touring and graduating school, at 30 playing with more people and getting his songwriting skills up to par. Saying that he’s already been lucky to play large crowds and festivals.
The conversation moves on to playing live where Joe talks about being a kid and playing shows and selling Cd’s afterwards to the fans. Taz responds saying how he loved kickin’ it with the fans and hearing them say hi when they see him.
Next up they talk about the Allman Brothers and why Taz likes seeing and performing with jam bands. Basically, it all started with the Allman Brothers... Brandon and his dad would bang on pot and pans to their music. Plus, they were the first band that Brandon discovered and, to him, their music was heavy with a lot of versatility and improvisation. Joe tells him about seeing Dickie Betts Band with a very young Warren Haynes and the first time Joe saw a Sunburst Les Paul.
Joe then asks how Brandon picked up the guitar and who were his inspirations. "I just started playing by what I was feeling at the time, but I kept playing and things fell into place. Then my dad started giving me Miles Davis, Mahavishnu Orchestra, B.B. King, and others. Then I started playing with the radio, CDs, or vinyl... Rush and jam band stuff, which really resonates with me also mostly." – Taz
Joe and Brandon also discuss playing theatres in the round, more touring, and Taz performing for the NFL Playoffs, and singing the national anthem, with Joe asking how he managed to get that gig? Taz says it was a five minutes of fame moment. They talk about the Eddie Trunk interview, how you never want to ever be a meme, dealing with social media and how Taz doesn’t stress about social media comments or addressing constructive criticism. As well as the Instagram guitar warriors, the social media dopamine moments, the click bait, the pedal controversy, stompboxes, Signature guitars, and ending the interview with Joe telling Taz that he is a shiny example of doing the right things for the right reasons and that all this will pay off.