Interview with The Neuromaniacs. Embracing innovation and creativity

"I write, record and mix everyday and once I start, time does not exist. I forget to eat. I get totally lost in it"
22 April 2024

Venturing into new musical territories is a bold move, especially for established artists. We had the privilege of sitting down with Johnny Brewer, the eclectic musician based in Kells, Ireland, and the creative force behind The Neuromaniacs, formerly known as Johnny & The Brewsers, to delve into their journey of musical reinvention and exploration.

From their modest origins to their recent offering, Revelations, we delve into the inspirations, obstacles, and ambitions fueling their artistic growth. The Neuromaniacs’ cinematic electronic rock gem is accompanied by a fittingly dark and hypnotic visual.

With their inventive methodology and steadfast commitment to their artistry, The Neuromaniacs invite us to embark on a musical adventure pulsating with expansive creativity and exploration.

Very much getting a cinematic feel to the over all sound was my main goal

What factors contributed to Johnny & The Brewsers’ decision to shift their musical style from blues rock to electronic/rock with the formation of The Neuromaniacs?

I went back to college as an extra mature student, studying Music and Sound Production. The idea was to learn how to properly engineer, mix and master so I could self produce all my work as Johnny and The Brewsers.

Over the course of my studies, combined with learning piano and music theory, which as a drummer I never really paid much attention to in the past, I also studied Music Technology. Delving into everything from Musique concrète right up to present day. We also covered Film soundtrack composing and editing, which encompassed a lot of modern electronic music aspects. As I’ve always loved film scores, this really inspired me to try something new, for me. I’m not reinventing the wheel, but I felt invigorated and knew that I could bring something to the genre.

As it’s just me operating under Johnny and The Brewsers, it was an easy transition to create The Neuromaniacs, one man and his home studio.

Could you walk us through the creative process involved in writing, recording, engineering, mixing, and mastering Revelations, and highlight any notable differences compared to your previous works?

I had a sound in my head , haunting and sustained piano chords but with pads. I messed around with a few progressions until I hit on that sound. I wrote the drum and bass parts. Recorded all three and then started layering the keys and I tried not to go overkill as I needed to leave room for guitars, which I wasn’t sure at that point what way to introduce them. I noodled around a bit and finally found what I was looking looking for and worked them in.

I had written lyrics for it , but there were too many words and I couldn’t find a melody line that worked. So, I stripped it right back and created a character voice over approach, which seemed to work.

Previously with writing and recording Johnny and The Brewsers material, it really was seat of the pants stuff. I was still learning to play bass, guitar, sing and write complete songs as well as figuring out how to engineer. It was a bit unwieldy, but it was the only way I knew how at that time. My brother, Adam, who is not only a phenomenonal guitarist and song writer, he is also a brilliant sound, mixing and mastering engineer. He, very patiently, worked with me. Adam advised me and mixed and mastered all of the J and The B’s stuff and to be honest, he inspired me to study and learn how to do it. So, this was me stepping out into the packed room, stark naked!

What was the inspiration behind the thematic elements of Revelations, and how do they reflect your personal artistic journey and influences?

Very much getting a cinematic feel to the overall sound was my main goal. I had been listening to God Is An Astronaut and A Burial At Sea, as well as Vangelis and Hans Zimmer. Combining that with everything else in the Rock spectrum that I listen to.

I love heavy rock and blues and I’ll always be inspired by it and write it, but I’m still a complete novice when it comes to playing the guitar parts , so I’m a little self conscious, I guess. But it won’t deter me from it. I practice every day and have tunes for Johnny and The Brewsers demo’d and in sketch form.

I felt that I had a lot more leeway combining the rock elements with MIDI keys and it was more forgiving.

How do you envision the musical trajectory of The Neuromaniacs in the future, and could you share any insights into upcoming projects or creative ventures beyond the release of this single?

Ideally, I would love to work with other musicians and get out and play it live. I’ve made a few attempts to connect with different people but unfortunately with commitments and other aspects of day to day, nothing came of it.

I have the follow up single and video ready to go. It’s called Remnants and I’ll be releasing it sometime in May on Bandcamp and YouTube only. I also have three more pieces in rough demo form and I’m just going to keep going with it, as the ideas keep coming.

Which studio equipment do you favor, and what sets it apart as your preferred choice?

Well, currently it’s a toss up between my Harley Benton DC -DLX Gotoh Black. My Orange Crush 35RT, which is a beast. And my M-Audio keystation 61Mk3.

On average, how many hours do you spend per week working in your studio?

I could spend 70 hours or more a week. I write, record and mix everyday and once I start, time does not exist. I forget to eat. I get totally lost in it.

What recent musical developments have particularly ignited your passion in the past year?

Well, just looking at it from my own little bubble, finishing college and throwing myself into a new departure in music and taking the responsibility for all aspects of production. I had produced some work for other artists as well, but I’m not sure what their plans are so I won’t mention any names yet.

Can you encapsulate the essence of your sound in three words?

Cinematic Electronic Rock

What do you aim for listeners to glean or feel when engaging with your music?

Just to lose themselves in it and enjoy the trip. Music is subjective and that
was proven to me recently when a journalist covered my release and what she got from the music and the video was a little different from what I had talked about and I loved that.

​Who are your top 3 most-played artists on Spotify?

Currently, Kyuss, Bill Burr and I’m listening to Geezer Butler narrate his autobiography Into The Void.