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Brad Roberts following a Crash Test Dummies show in 2010
|Birth name||Bradley Kenneth Roberts|
|Born||January 10, 1964|
|Origin||Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, keyboards, omnichord, optigan|
|Labels||Arista, ViK. Recordings, Cha-Ching, Deep Fried|
- 1 Career
- 2 Personal life
- 3 Musical influences
- 4 Discography
- 5 References
- 6 External links
"Early exposure to my mother's singing--she had enormous untapped ability--secured in me an early connection between melody and a nurturing influence. Later on I took piano lessons at the age of about 5 with Wally Meyer's daughter Carol in downtown Winnipeg. Wally and daughter Carol worked out of this old, funky house downtown, I don't remember the address, but the house seemed huge and wonderfully of another era. He also taught my father to play boogie-woogie piano style. Later on I would beg my parents for guitar lessons and at 12, I got them. I learned to read and to understand basic theory studying with Mrs. Morrissey at her home school near Unicity, St James, Winnipeg After this I quit lessons and taught myself to improvise and to play by ear. As for my influences and tastes, In those days I had a naive view and I liked everything. I didn't know what was cool. I was childishly receptive. This is one of the blessings of childhood: the imagination is still very flexible." His musical career began with a bachelor's degree with honours from University of Winnipeg in 1986. Roberts began performing in a house band for the Blue Note Cafe in Winnipeg under the moniker Bad Brad Roberts and the St. James Rhythm Pigs. The band gradually evolved into The Crash Test Dummies. While studying at university and working as a bartender at The Spectrum Cabaret, Roberts began writing his own songs and introducing them to the band. After attending a songwriters' workshop with Lyle Lovett at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, he wrote "Superman's Song".
Record deal and debut album
Demos of Roberts's songs found themselves in the hands of various music company execs across Canada, and the quirky bar band that had just begun to write original material found itself with record deal options which led The Crash Test Dummies into a rushed, but nevertheless well-received debut album, The Ghosts that Haunt Me. The album introduced the band to the rest of the Canadian provinces, selling over 400,000 copies in Canada alone and also garnering a 1991 Juno Award for Group of the Year.
Second album and international success
With more time and finances, Roberts set about writing the band's second album, God Shuffled His Feet. This to date is the band's best selling and most popular album, taking them into the international arena of musical exposure. The album has sold over six million copies and caused The Crash Test Dummies to be nominated for three Grammy Awards in 1994. The group was nominated for eleven other Junos from 1992 to 2000. Roberts writes: "This success nearly never happened. When our second record first came out, it was nothing short of sabotaged by Canada. The Winnipeg Free Press printed an excoriating review written by a man in Florida, of all places, a market where we did very little indeed. Radio wouldn't play it, and MMM went no higher than 15 in Canada. Yet it was number two on the BillBoard charts in the USA and selling millions worldwide, all based on MMM. The American market saved us from being eaten by our own, a very Canadian fate."
Third album: A Worm's Life
A Worm's Life was released in 1996, selling over one million copies and showcasing a harder-edged sound as the band continued to evolve, producing this album on their own. Writes Roberts: "I wrote the lyrics for this album on the road during the God Shuffled His Feet Tour. I carried about a notebook then--there were no laptop computers--and at night after the show, I would seal myself up in my bunk on the tourbus and take notes towards songs. These would be based on conversations I overheard, bits I read in the books, anything that struck me as fertile soil for exploration. I remember one evening having dinner with my lawyer and discussing the American space program in the 1960's, when he told me a story about a man who vomited while in space. That ended up in a song called "Over Acheivers."
Fourth album: Give Yourself a Hand
1999 introduced a mix of electronic funk and spontaneous wordplay with Give Yourself a Hand. Roberts met Greg Wells at a songwriters' workshop and invited him to co-write and assist in recording this album inspired by influences and flavours of Roberts' new home in Harlem, New York. Roberts writes: "This was the first album I ever co-wrote, with a young man named Greg Wells who went on, as I thought he would, to become a great producer based in Los Angles. Greg is a phenomenal musician, as good a keyboard player as he is a drummer, and a master of many genres. I consider it my favorite recorded with BMG, next to God Shuffled His Feet. I discovered my falsetto and stretched out into new stylistic territory. I lost some old fans who didn't like this directions, but I made some new ones as well. Its a record I'm very proud of."
Car accident and independent release
On September 28, 2000, Roberts was severely injured when he crashed his car on a dirt road in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. Marijuana was discovered in his pocket while he was loaded into an ambulance and he was then charged for possession by the RCMP. While he was recuperating from the accident, he began jamming with locals (The Great Wind Jammers from Argyle, Yarmouth County) and produced from these sessions I Don't Care That You Don't Mind. This was the first album released by the band independent of a major record label.
Sixth album: Puss 'n' Boots
Cowritten and produced by Stewart Cameron, Puss 'n' Boots was released in October 2003 with a European and additional American version.
In the fall of 2010, during Crash Test Dummies' Canadian tour, Roberts began taking random photos of the places he visited, which were then posted on his blog and the band's Facebook page.
Roberts now lives with his wife. He practices and teaches yoga. He is an avid genealogist and has mapped out his family tree extensively, which can be found at ancestry.com on the Bradley Kenneth Roberts tree. He enjoys reading history, especially of England, Scotland, The Channel Islands, and France, as well as 19th century Europe generally, and 17th century New France, Canada. He returns to Descartes, Leibniz, Hume and Kant, and to Nietzsche in later years; and the 18th and 19th century continues to include the fiction he cherishes most: Tobias Smollet, Laurence Sterne, Boswell and Johnson; then Keat's Odes; Jane Austin; the Bronte sisters all; Thomas Hardy both as novelist and poet; early Yeats; early George Eliot. This added by Brad ley Kenneth Roberts, b. 10 Jan 1964., on 30 Apr 2017.
His influences as a musician are primarily rooted in late-'60s, '70s and '80s British music, from the albums Let It Bleed by The Rolling Stones, Abbey Road by The Beatles, Diamond Dogs by David Bowie and Oranges & Lemons by XTC, which was introduced to him by his friend on his car stereo in the late '80s.
Crash Test Dummies
- The Ghosts That Haunt Me (1991)
- God Shuffled His Feet (1993)
- A Worm's Life (1996)
- Give Yourself a Hand (1999)
- I Don't Care That You Don't Mind (2001)
- Jingle All the Way (2002)
- Puss 'n' Boots (2003)
- Songs of the Unforgiven (2004)
- Oooh La La! (2010)
- Rajanaka: Mantra (2011)
- Crash Test Dude (2001)
- Crash Test Dude (2001)
- "Where Are They Now? 1994's Biggest Pop Acts Pictures – Crash Test Dummies". Retrieved 2013-08-28.
- "Crash Test Dummies MMM MMM MMM MMM (Official Music Video)". Retrieved August 28, 2013.
- Brad Roberts charged for drug possession CANOE - JAM!
- "Brad Roberts Interview". Guitarhoo.com. Guitarhoo.com. 2008. Retrieved March 5, 2013.
- "Interview with singer/songwriter, Brad Roberts". Muse Muse. Retrieved March 5, 2013.