An Interview with Local Artist Brad Mowen

Brad Mowen has been a musician for more than four decades. He plays for MMOB and The Accused. Brad is also a stylist at Rudy’s Barbershop on Capitol Hill. I met Brad six years ago when I got my first haircut from him. I have been going to him since. Brad and I did our interview on the noisy Pine Street.

David: How did you first get into music?

Brad: I got into music at a very young age. I had my first drum lessons at 5 years old. Later I got drum lessons from Cubby O'Brien. Cubby was the smallest kid on the first Mickey Mouse Club ever. He went on to be pretty popular studio drummer in the seventies.

David: Nice. How long did you work with him?

Brad: I took lessons from him 20 or 30 times. I mainly took lessons from his father. I took lessons every week from 5 years old to when I graduated high school.

David: You told me you mostly do vocal work now? How did you decide to do that?

Brad: In the 1980s I played for a band called Sweaty Nipples in Portland, Oregon. I come from a long line of horrible band names. My new band is called MMOB. I abbreviate because the name may not be appropriate for your article. I do the most work with them now. I also am with a punk rock band called The Accused.

David: I remember you told me about them.

Brad: Yeah, I also played in a band called Burning Witch for three shows and made the most money there. They actually rose up to become legendary.

David: Do you find band life to be hard?

Brad: Many bands have hard times. It is hard to rely on people to come through sometimes.

David: Do you have a hard time between work and music?

Brad: I only work for 6 hours a day 5 days a week. So it is not a problem. A lot of musicians are painters or bartenders. They usually have pretty flexible hours. But you can make decent money in Seattle. I can pick my hours and they will help me plan around my practices. Many musicians quit though, and get other jobs.

David: Tell me about your tours in Europe.

Brad: The MMOB tour there a couple times a year. Sometimes more. It is a typically easier place to tour than the United States because everything is so closed together. People I know make it easy to get an agent there and get bookings.

David: How does your wife feel about your music?

Brad: She likes some of it, and doesn't like some parts. Just like everyone else. Our music is pretty avant-garde. People either love it or hate it.

David: Who is your biggest musical role model?

Brad: I would say Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys. I have tons of his music. I also like Japanese bands.

David: Did you ever stop playing music at any point?

Brad: Never. It is my favorite artistic outlet.

David: I used to play the cello and did horribly. What would you say to people that feel they cannot accomplish anything with music?

Brad: In your situation you picked one of the hardest instruments because it is a string instrument. I would suggest trying something else. I tried guitar; I am horrible at it. It’s all about the practice man.

David: How much would you say music is talent vs. skill?

Brad: I would say it is both. There are people who aren’t good musicians but great storytellers. There are some people who can play their instruments instantly. That is very rare though.

David: Like Hendrix.

Brad: He is a great example. In a business sense you gotta take your opportunities. When I was younger, I screwed up a lot of opportunities. I was stupid. That’s why you see people who in your mind were the best musicians you ever saw, and the farthest they made it was the street corner. Maybe that’s what he wants to do, or he doesn't have the drive to get the music out there. There are others who aren't great who have record deals and are touring. That is because they work hard to get where they are. It is not just luck anymore. Honestly you have to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth to get fame or you are working for it. A lot of these huge pop stars are misunderstood. Even though they were discovered by someone they are working their tails off. It is a hard life. They have to tour and record all the time.

David: What is your favorite color?

Brad: Black.

David: Thank you.

Brad: You're welcome.