Wheat (left-right: Scott Levesque, Luke Hebert, Brendan Harney), January 26, 2014 (photo credit: Paul Chiera)
|Genres||indie rock, indie pop, lo-fi|
|Labels||Sugar Free, Aware, Empyrean, The Rebel Group, Shorebird|
|Past members||Ricky Brennan Jr.
Wheat is an American indie-rock band formed by Scott Levesque (vocals, guitar), Brendan Harney (drums, vocals), Ricky Brennan Jr. (guitar, vocals), and Kenny Madaras (bass) in Taunton, Massachusetts, in 1996.
Wheat's debut album, Medeiros, released in 1997 on Sugar Free Records, was recorded by Dave Auchenbach and mixed by Red Red Meat's Brian Deck. Madaras left the group—and was never permanently replaced on bass—prior to the release of their second Sugar Free album, 1999's Hope and Adams, which was produced by Dave Fridmann at Tarbox Road Studios in Cassadaga, New York, and included the song "Don't I Hold You." Don't I Hold You also reached number 50 of the UK's legendary BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel Festive Fifty chart of 1999.
The group left Sugar Free and signed with London-based Nude Records in 2000, but the label folded soon after. Wheat continued writing, however, and in 2002, after two years of record-business limbo, they signed with Aware Records, which had a distribution deal with Columbia. Two of the songs recorded for the unfinished Nude incarnation of Wheat's third album, Per Second, Per Second, Per Second ... Every Second, survived as so-called "naked" versions on the 2003 sampler EP Too Much Time, while others were rerecorded for the Aware-sanctioned edition of Per Second, also released in '03. The track "Some Days" was included in the film Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! and on its soundtrack album, "I Met a Girl" appeared in A Cinderella Story, and the 2003 version of "Don't I Hold You" was featured in Elizabethtown.
After promoting Per Second in '03 and '04 by touring with Liz Phair, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and Blake Babies and performing on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Last Call with Carson Daly, only to see the album sell an underwhelming 30,000 copies, Wheat decided to take a break. Brennan departed near the end of 2004 to form Duresse, which self-released the seven-song EP Elate in early '06.
Later that year, Wheat, now a duo, finished writing and recording their fourth album, Everyday I Said a Prayer for Kathy and Made a One Inch Square, with Rick Lescault at Electric Ali Studios in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. Preceded by the EP That's Exactly What I Wanted ... Exactly That in early '07, the album was released by Empyrean Records in May. (Aware Records never officially dropped Wheat from its roster. However, it declined its option to release the follow-up to Per Second.) An EP titled Move = Move, featuring exclusive tracks and multimedia content, was set for release in February 2008 but was pulled at the last minute for undisclosed reasons, causing frustration for fans who had preordered the disc. Wheat ended its association with Empyrean soon after.
In early 2009 Wheat announced on their website and MySpace page that Medeiros and Hope and Adams would be reissued in March by the Rebel Group label as part of a three-CD deluxe package that included a bonus disc of outtakes and rarities entitled 30 Minute Theatrik (Scanning the Garden). The band then completed their fifth studio album, White Ink, Black Ink, which the Rebel Group released that July.
Wheat notified their fans in September 2011 that it would be releasing three singles in the coming months in advance of a new full-length. The Used 2 Be in Love Blues, featuring the title track and "House of Kiss," was first up, followed three months later by Gettin' Ready To, which includes the B-side "Feel Good Co." In April 2012 P Is for Pressure (B-side: "We Won't Be Satisfied") completed the set. All three singles feature hand-screened artwork by Luke Hebert, who became a member of Wheat around 2008, while the singles' download-only editions contain bonus tracks and videos.
In June 2013 the band released another new song, "Black Days Away," as a free download on their website, and announced that their sixth LP was officially under way. Eleven months later they revealed that the multimedia company Shorebird would be reissuing their first album, Medeiros, on vinyl and CD in addition to releasing Wishing Good Things for the World, a three-part project that would include a seven-song EP, a feature-length documentary, and Wheat's first new album since 2009.
However, by October 2014 the band had asked Shorebird to refund all preorders for the CD version of the EP, originally set to be released two months earlier, due to distribution-related delays; in its place, Wheat offered a free digital download to those customers of the EP's seven songs: "Rescue," "Finding Wings," "C'mon Song," "Love Is the Drug We Take," "62 Horses," "Two Dollar Bill," and the ten-minute "Wishing Good Things for the World." The band followed up in March 2015 with an offer to mail physical copies of the CD's planned artwork at no charge, while the digital version of the EP became available for purchase on Wheat's website that same month.
Gary Lightbody, lead singer for Snow Patrol, is a self-proclaimed fan of Wheat, typically listing their albums on any of his top music lists, including his 2007 "best of" blog post on the band's MySpace page.
- Medeiros (1997)
- Hope and Adams (1999)
- Per Second, Per Second, Per Second ... Every Second (2003)
- Everyday I Said a Prayer for Kathy and Made a One Inch Square (2007)
- White Ink, Black Ink (2009)
- That's Exactly What I Wanted ... Exactly That (2007)
- Move = Move (2008; unreleased)
- Wishing Good Things for the World (2015)
- Death Car (1998)
- Raised Ranch Revolution (1999)
- Don't I Hold You (1999)
- Off the Pedestal (1999)
- I Met a Girl (2003)
- Baby, It's Cold Outside (2003; with Liz Phair)
- Changes Is (2010)
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (2010; free download)
- The Used 2 Be in Love Blues (2011)
- Gettin' Ready To (2011)
- P Is for Pressure (2012)
- Black Days Away (2013)
- Too Much Time (2003)
- Listening So Close: A Brief History of Wheat (2004)
Music Video Game
- Living 2 Die Vs. Dying 2 Live (2009)
- Wheat's official site
- Wheat on MySpace
- Wheat on Facebook
- Wheat on Allmusic
- Wheat music archive (fan operated)
- Wheat featured on Underrated Music blog (fan operated)