Sometimes, the most difficult circumstances offer a silver lining. One has to look for it, but it’s there, ready to be discovered. Indiana-based singer, songwriter, and five-time author Brett Wiscons felt that reality all too keenly when the pandemic made for unique and trying times to put together his forthcoming album, Late Bloomer, and the silver-lining mentality ended up permeating the songs on the record. “I just wanted to offer hope in a seemingly hopeless situation,” Wiscons says of the genesis for this album. "These songs wouldn’t have existed without the kindness of my Kickstarter backers, and I wouldn’t have written some of them if it hadn’t been for the global pandemic."
His new full-length album, Late Bloomer, was a labor of love created with mix engineer, producer and collaborator Thom Daugherty (The Elms, The Band Perry), and it will be released on July 13, 2022 via Wiscons’ own label, MAD Diamond Entertainment.
“Well before the pandemic hit, I had an idea for a song called ‘Late Bloomer’ in May of 2019” Wiscons recalls. “I told Thom about it and he, almost without thinking, said, ‘I have a chord progression that will work for that song idea.’ I then wrote the lyrics on a plane from Indy to Phoenix. They just poured out of me. I am a late bloomer, and I figured many other folks out there might be able to relate to this song.” “Late Bloomer” was released as a single in February 2020, mere weeks before everything shut down, but the track garnered Wiscons new fans from as far afield as Australia, Morocco, and the UK, to name a few places where other “late bloomers” chimed in to let Wiscons know how much his song resonated with them. In July of 2020, “Late Bloomer” appeared on the soundtrack for the new “NASCAR Heat 5” video game on Xbox and PlayStation.
With the song out in the world, Wiscons and Daugherty had huge aspirations to record a full album by the same name. “I knew it had to be done, but I knew it was going to be expensive to produce,” Wiscons says. “I’d had success with Kickstarter before, so I ran a campaign and hoped for the best.” What happened next blew Wiscons away. “Somehow, 137 people scattered around the country believed in me and this project, and we raised over twenty-two thousand dollars and were completely funded two weeks into the 30-day campaign.”
Wiscons and Daugherty had planned to get to work in mid-March of 2020, but the pandemic had a little to say first. “We were so eager to get rolling, but then, quite literally, like the rest of the world, we got shut down,” Wiscons remembers. By May 2020, they started working remotely, writing lyric and song ideas and passing them back and forth via text and email while communicating through the Marco Polo app. Two of the collected songs were directly influenced by the pandemic and lockdown itself: “Walk Talk” and “Vertical City.” “I was feeling all sorts of emotions during that time; anxiety, fear, doubt, and worry seem to be the ones that stuck around the longest, at least initially,” Wiscons says, “but then hope started to emerge. Seeing news footage of a desolate New York City with empty streets and sidewalks was the beginning of the song ‘Vertical City.’”
News topics and emotional responses laced other tracks, and the songwriting pair also tackled what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis (“When You Can’t Breathe”), parenthood (“Let’s Do it Again”), and wishful thinking (“French Café”). “You really hear all of the influences Thom and I grew up with come out in these songs,” Wiscons says. There are shades of The Beatles, Pearl Jam, Eagles, Jackson Browne, and Hootie & the Blowfish all over the songs on the album, but with Wiscons’ unique spin on things making it feel fresh and new.
Born in Chicago, Wiscons and his family moved to the state of Indiana in the early 1980s. “I thank my dad and mom for exposing me to the music of The Beach Boys, Eagles, and Sade in those early days,” Wiscons says with a smile. “It helped shape me into the musician I am today.” His music career officially started when he teamed up with some high school buddies to form his first band, The Owls, in 1996. He started writing his own music and lyrics, and then he fell in love with entertaining and being a frontman.
More bands began and ended in high school and college (Marian University, Indianapolis). Wiscons is especially proud of the time spent with his band, Great Scott!, during their prime years of 2002 to 2008, when they toured throughout the Midwest and released original music. He always had a day job, with music relegated to being his “weekend fun,” but Wiscons continued to have aspirations to make music his full-time profession. “As far back as being 16 or 17, I just wanted to figure out a way to be a musician full-time,” he says. “I wasn’t sure how I’d get there, but that was my unwavering goal.”
Finally, on May 1, 2008, Wiscons kissed corporate America goodbye and began his endeavor to perform and write music while hopefully keeping the lights on and paying rent on time. He joined up with his friend Jon Shoulders, and they became The Michaels (both Wiscons and Shoulders have the same middle name). Two original EPs were released by the duo, and shows were booked and performed in the Midwest and East Coast. After five years of relentless gigging, the pair decided to call it a career. Wiscons had a choice to make – go solo or go back to a 9-to-5. There really wasn’t a choice.
One of the first things he did was reach out to Mark Bryan from his all-time favorite band Hootie & the Blowfish. “I knew the Hootie guys were on an extended hiatus, and Mark had produced a few records that I really enjoyed, so I asked him if he’d produce my debut solo record,” Wiscons says, remembering the guts it took to ask that question. “He kindly accepted.”
What followed were writing sessions in Awendaw and Charleston, South Carolina for the two-time Grammy winner and Wiscons. “Mark gave me a masterclass in how to write a hook,” he recalls. “Mark also explained that sometimes the most direct way of writing lyrics is, in fact, the best way.” Wiscons released The Heineken Sessions Deluxe in 2016 via Captain Beardo Records, which garnered him some national airplay for the songs “Don’t Be the One” and “SarAZona.” “I still play a lot of those songs today that Mark and I wrote,” Wiscons says. “Those sessions were a lot of fun, and I am grateful to Mark for taking me under his wing and propelling my solo career for a long stretch of time. Mark was even kind enough to lay down a mandolin track on the new album.”
Wiscons has always been a bit of a road warrior, and while on tour he has had the honor of sharing the stage with a vast array of international and national touring acts, including Jon Bon Jovi, Jimmy Buffett, Darius Rucker, Zac Brown Band, Katy Perry, Collective Soul, LeAnn Rimes, Tesla, Rick Springfield, 311, Tonic, Lifehouse, BoDeans, Trace Adkins, Hootie & the Blowfish, Sister Hazel, and Will Hoge, among others. In April 2019, he was hand-selected to perform on the Jon Bon Jovi “Runaway To Paradise”Caribbean cruise. His performances have occurred in 26 states – on hundreds of stages – equaling over 3000 gigs. The music he has written and recorded has appeared on Australian television, Triple-A Radio, and the international smash hit “Tony Kornheiser Show.”
An everyday meditator and learner, Wiscons enters his 42nd year with high hopes to deliver a batch of songs and live performances that will deeply connect with his fans and continue to breed his thirst for life. With Late Bloomer, he is poised to share his own silver lining with listeners around the globe.