The name Brendan McCreary may not ring an outright bell, but the singer-songwriter’s music has been internationally placed in just about every medium of storytelling. Brendan’s original songs have found themselves featured in CW’s Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and 90210 and NBC’s Trauma, while his impressive vocals and musicianship can be heard in many more projects including Battlestar Galactica as well as serving as music director for NBC’s Constantine. Currently his song, “In My Dream,” can be heard in theaters worldwide in the new horror movie, The Boy, starring The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan. If that’s not enough, he just finished wrapping up songwriting duties for the acclaimed SyFy show, Defiance.
When he’s not writing for hit TV shows or movies, Brendan storms the stage as frontman in the John Vatos Oingo Boingo Dance Party, where he sings lead alongside original members of Oingo Boingo. And if that’s not enough, to top if all off he fronts his own indie-rock band, Young Beautiful In A Hurry. Brendan truly is one-man-band and one that just can’t be stopped.
Brendan McCreary: Over the years, the line between those various mediums has blurred substantially. Previously, when writing for myself or YBinaHurry, I would lounge around the house with my guitar and just play around until something caught my ear; it was a very time consuming and somewhat bohemian exercise. Sometimes it could take me months to write one song. As I started writing under more and more deadlines (amazing things, deadlines) that process gradually started to fade away. More interesting still — writing electronic music is almost antithetical to guitar music in many ways. I had to write lots of EDM, DUB, and electro for Defiance and you’re sort of already living in the box (the computer). You’re not chilling on the couch with Netflix on mute. Now, my writing process is very similar for everything. Throw paint at the canvas and make the best of it!
Brendan: Writing for different genres is an absolute blast. It’s a meaningful and thrilling challenge as well. Until you’re tasked with writing an Irish/folk/punk song, or a 60’s style french language folk/pop song, you don’t necessarily know if you can, right? Defiance really cut my teeth in this regard. Blasting between trap/electro and a Tom Waits style ballad is really in my wheel house, mostly because my personality can be that dichotomous in and of itself. And to anyone that is wondering how it is done, the short answer is: research. And the quicker the better. For example, when Kevin Murphy (the show runner on Defiance) tasked me with writing a Pogue’s style Irish punk tune for the show, or a Roxy Music style ballad, I would smile and say, “right on, I love that stuff.” Of course, I wouldn’t have heard one note of it, and I’d pop onto the “YouTubes” and listen to as much of those artists as I possibly could. But never finishing a song. In this way, you can sort of filter through the noise and find the common denominators between songs and albums. You see what makes the artist and the genre they work in tick. This can be instrumentation as well as arrangement. Even production styles, what kinds of reverbs and effects are they using. All these elements melt together into the song, so it’s good to pay attention to that sort of stuff.
HV: When you’re writing for film and TV, how does the story’s genre influence your songwriting? Do you come up with an idea first, or do you let the scene drive your writing?
Brendan: Ordinarily, I will have seen the episode or movie and gotten some ideas from the producer or director. I know what the film is about, what the characters are going through, and where they will end up. With all this percolating around in your head, the songs virtually write themselves. It’s incredibly helpful to not start from super-ultra scratch, which is to say, just you and your creative neurons firing in the abyss of nothingness. With all that, you’ve got the vibe you need, the musical reference points, a story line, an inspiration all wrapped up in a bow. Plus you’re getting PAID, son! It’s a beautiful thing.
HV: You’re also the frontman in the John Vatos Oingo Boingo Dance Party. What is it like leading the group and sharing the stage with original members of the band?
Brendan: Fronting Oingo Boingo Dance Party is an absolute trip. These guys were my heroes growing up, and aside from Bowie, they were effectively the reason I got into music in general. Being in OBDP has also been an incredible education. You learn a lot about yourself at sold out shows in front of rabid Danny Elfman-worshipping fans. The music is some of the most amazing as well as complicated pop tunes in history. The pedigree of the band is unparalleled. The energy is more akin to speed punk then 80’s new wave-rock. Being in this band has made me an absolute professional. I’ve dealt with almost everything there is to be dealt with and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. There are very few things better then the downbeat of an OBDP show…because for 2 hours we just don’t stop.
HV: What inspired you to put out music as Young Beautiful in a Hurry? Who are your main musical influences?
Brendan: Young Beautiful In A Hurry is an expanding and evolving pop enterprise. It began as a Ziggy Stardust-inspired project with a touch of glam, moved into a Queen-esque/MUSE rock fest, and is now morphing into pop territory I’ve never dabbled in before. The new stuff that’s being written and recorded right now is definitely an amalgamation of all my skills as a producer and songsmith. It;s very exciting. As far as my musical influences are concerned, I know where I’ve come from – Bowie, Queen – but I’m not sure where I’m going. I’ve sort of shed my old skin and am growing a new one. It’s really a no-holds barred musical landscape out there right now. You can do whatever the hell you want and there’s a home for it.
HV: Your vocal range is incredible. How do you manage to keep up your talents amidst all of the other work you’re doing?
Brendan: My vocals are a mystery to me. And everything I’m about to say must be prefaced with a healthy dose of knocking on wood. I’m not professionally trained, nor do I practice with any sort of regularity. It just seems to be something I’ve been gifted. That said, I’ve worked and worked on it endlessly over the years. And to be truthful…my voice was garbage for years and years, so I regret not being more dedicated to the craft and getting lessons. But fast forward all these years later, and I feel like my voice has become a well-oiled machine. Amazingly still, it’s always changing. It just gets stronger and stronger and better and better. With regard to everything else, piano, guitar etc…I just practice through songwriting and production. The whole reason I ever picked up an instrument was always to write, much less to become a badass instrumentalist. That’s why I quit playing saxophone, because I couldn’t sing and play at the same time. But I do want to get back into it.
HV: Why do you think it’s important that people hear new music? What does music mean to you?
Brendan: New music is important because it is the “sign-o-the-times.” Plain and simple. It’s a representation of where we’ve been, and where we’re going. There’s nothing anyone can do to stop it. Art and the act of creation in general is intrinsic; it is basic. Everyone is creating things all day, everyday. Music is one of the most fundamental building blocks of human society. It’s like rice and bread. And it’s been around since the dawn of time. You can’t say that about cell phones, or rockets, or the internet, or running water. That’s what makes it so important. I think its important that people “hear” new music, whether or not they enjoy it, because it inspires change. Even the crappiest radio banger makes me think differently about my craft and what I’d like to do with it. What music means to me personally, I’m afraid, is very different then the average person or music lover. Music to me can be as painful as it is beautiful. As a full time music creator, I also don’t listen with the same ears anymore. I don’t hear with my heart; I hear with my mind. I see the “matrix,” if you will. I’m listening to everything – the vocals, the instruments, the production, wondering what kind of compression they used, or how that particular effect was achieved. I’m working all the time. For this reason, my house is frequently very quiet and still, and I find myself not listening to music very often. It’s a sad but very real truth. I need to do that more often. Vinyl helps; without vinyl I wouldn’t have ever conceived of sitting down with John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and listening down front to back. Anyways, it’s complicated.
HV: What can we expect in 2016 from the man-of-all-talents known as Brendan McCreary?
Brendan: I’ve got a lot of my own music in the pipe which I imagine will come out as Young Beautiful in a Hurry. I’m producing a few artists and would like to produce a few more. Despite it’s incredible nerd-cred and fan base, Defiance has regrettably been cancelled, so I’m looking to find that next gig. Speaking of bass (re: fan base) I also just bought my first one and I’ve been voraciously playing it all day, everyday. I’m really not sure what the future holds at the moment. Survival! I’m mostly interested in finishing up this dozen or so songs of which I can confidently say a majority are ultra bangers. 2016 is going to be a real adventure.