Interviewed by Sam Lambeth
Brains for Breakfast – songsmith, traveller and all round legend – speaks to King City about his new single, supporting one of his musical heroes and gate-crashing a Belgium landmark.
It becomes clear within five minutes of speaking to Andrew Webster – better known as Brains for Breakfast – that he’s got the kind of stories the great Peter Ustinov would doff his cap to. There are so many wonderful anecdotes to focus on, like the time Webster booked tickets to see his hero Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly and ended up opening the show, using Mr Cape’s guitar to boot. Or the time he ended up playing a royal palace during an annual festival on a historic night in Belgium. Or the time he snuck $10,000 worth of pure Colombian naughty chalk across the border in his headstock…okay, that last one is a joke. But our Brains has lived an incredible life as a wandering troubadour, peddling his melodic wares across Europe, supporting some amazing acts and creating music that endures.
However, let’s go right to the beginning, when Webster was recording in Walsall and designing artwork in a friend’s kitchen, all the time finding inspiration in Get Cape’s crusades.
“I had seen Get Cape at Reading Festival and he inspired me to pick up the acoustic, but he also inspired me to go under a pseudonym,” Brains explains. “Get Cape went under a moniker, so I wanted to do the same.”
Enter his good friend Babz, a friend of Get Cape’s who alerted the ‘War of the Worlds’ singer to Brains’ adulation.
“I was going to watch him at the Windmill in Brixton. Once Babz told him I was coming, he asked me to open the show! I even got to use his guitar…which was so much better than mine.”
Since then, Brains has enjoyed a varied and exciting career, regularly gigging across the globe.
“I spent three months playing an Irish bar in Ayia Napa, which really helped with experiencing audiences and I learned a lot of covers,” Brains explains. “I then got some regular gigs in Switzerland, too.
“My favourite gig abroad has to be when I was in Brussels. After finishing the gig, me and my friend Katie headed over to Grand Place. I had seen there was a stage for a festival and I wanted to do a video on the night time when all the buildings were lit up. I got on the stage and these three guys were loving what I was playing. One jammed with me and was rapping in Spanish. One of the other guys was from Palestine, and he was telling us about how he escaped all the trouble going on over there. It was just amazing to meet people from different cultures and connect through music.”
Performing solo is never easy, but over the years Brains has learned some useful tricks.
“Be yourself and don’t try too hard. The performance needs to come off as natural,” he says. “I always try to engage with the audience early on, and sometimes I’ll do some crowd participation if I feel it’s the right crowd. One time I jumped into the audience and played unplugged.”
So far this year, Brains has released Repetition Over Again, a punchy pop rocker that screams summer. Now he’s back with another ditty, a beautiful Beatles-esque ballad with the wonderful title Predicting Is For Fools.
For the future, Brains is eyeing up a fresh EP release, as well as some gigs in England and further afield.
“I had planned another mini Euro tour back in April 2020, but I had to cancel it due to the pandemic,” he sighs. “I’d love to plan it again for the future. I just can’t wait to go full pelt into gigging again!”
And you can bet when he does, our Brains for Breakfast – international man of melody – will have some stories to tell.
Brains for Breakfast’s new single, Predicting is For Fools, is out now. He plays Birmingham Deadwax on Friday 2 July.