Many people who listen to today’s rock music are familiar with musician
Brad Stewart, current bass player with Fuel and former member of
Shinedown, however did you know he was also co-writer of one of rock
band Puddle of Mudd’s biggest hits, Control?
Yes, the infamous ‘Smack my Ass’ song that helped propel Puddle of Mudd
to multi-platinum status as well as be one of the major catalysts giving
Puddle longevity as a radio and concert staple since 2001. A decade of
hits that started with a song that raised eyebrows with its risqué
chorus, unmistakable guitar intro, and the tossing of the keys in the
On February 18, 2012 the band Fuel was performing in my local area of
Biloxi, MS at the Hard Rock Casino and I had the privilege to sit down
and interview Brad to fill in some of the blanks on how he fit
into the Puddle Puzzle, his take on his current band Fuel, as well as
Shinedown and Jacksonville, FL local band Society Red.
Dateof Birth: November 19, 1974
Hometown: Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida
Status: Married with Children
Brad had gotten a guitar around the age of 12 and began to learn chords and
tried to put some serious effort into becoming a musician.
While many rock musicians cut their first teeth in a Junior High or High
School Band, Brad took the garage band shortcut and formed his first
band in approximately the 11th Grade. His first band was
Punching Judy, and although he knows it was a throwback to the old TV
show, couldn’t remember if the spelling was literally Punch and Judy
versus Punching Judy.
Not limiting his talents to just the bass, Brad can also play the guitar and
the drums…though he’ll tell you he not the best at it.
It’s not unusual for an aspiring musician to pick up on other
instruments and hone some skills before settling in on with what they
Brad is currently endorsed by Ernie Ball Strings, In Tune Guitar Picks, Ampeg
Amps, Kick Ass Cables and Samson Wireless.
Q & A – FUEL
POMFP: What is up with Fuel, any new music in the works?
Brad: After this tour I have 9 days at home and I’ll fly out to meet the
guys in LA, they all live in LA except for me, I still live in
Jacksonville. We’ve been writing quite a bit on the road, usually in
sound check. We have about 16-20 song ideas that just need to be tweaked
and completed as far as arrangement. We plan to take those two weeks to
finish that process and start recording. I’ll go home after that and
return when it is time to track my parts in the studio.
POMFP: Are you anticipating an album out in 2012 or 2013?
Brad: That’s what we are hoping for, we want to release a new song by
this Summer and be able to finish the record in the meantime, we’re
hoping for a Fall release. I personally believe that we have some strong
contenders in there to re-introduce the band and re-establish FUEL as a
force in the industry.
POMFP: We’ll all be looking forward to that.
Fuel has some dedicated fans, called Fuelies, everybody tends to give their
fans a nickname and there have been a lot of ongoing changes in the band
in the last 10 years including Brett leaving. It’s really hard for the
fans to accept that sometimes. What I want to know is did the fans
really jump on board with welcoming you to Fuel? They know your
background with Shinedown but sometimes they are still apprehensive and
they don’t want to see anybody new. So how welcome did they make you
Brad: I think they have been really great so far, no one has really
been negative. I think it’s because Jeff Abercrombie, former Fuel
bassist, made the decision that he wanted to stay home and run his
studio in L.A. It makes it easier for fans to accept when they know that
the former members left amicably and on their own terms. That and I
think that FUEL and my former band shared a lot of the same fans so I
was kind of familiar to a lot of them. Hopefully, when they see me play
on stage and meet me in person, I’m able to gain their respect and
POMFP: Nowadays with the Internet you have to stay fan oriented.
Brad: I think fans now have come to expect an open line of communication with
people in their favorite bands via the Internet. This was not the case
years ago, you used to only be able to join the “fan club” or
something but now with Internet, Facebook, Twitter etc. Fans are able to
access the musicians much easier. It works the other way too… it is
cool when you, as a band member, post something on the site and are able
to see the fans reaction and comments to what you’ve posted in real
time. It helps you stay connected with the people that love your music.
POMFP: Last year you had judged a Jacksonville High School Band
Competition, how does it feel to be a peer now and to mentor someone who
is up and coming when 10 and 15 years ago when it
Brad: They asked me to judge it again this year but I was out on the road and
I missed it. It was great. I think we gave them some good information.
There were definitely some talented kids up there. I think that band
that won it was deserving of it, they had already toured and looked and
sounded like a cohesive unit. We gave them constructive criticism
because we weren’t out there to bash them. I think it was me, Paul
Phillips, Steve Miller (Kinda Major), and Josh from Bound that were
judging. I think we gave them a good lesson you know. We tried to be
objective and not mean, it wasn’t like American Idol, we weren’t
like Simon Cowell in there, slamming them or something. We were good to
Q & A – Puddle of Mudd
POMFP: Most people don’t realize you co-wrote Control, they know you from
Shinedown, they know you from Fuel, and other side and local projects.
How did you come to be a part of Puddle of Mudd?
Brad: I had known Fred (Durst) from being in bands through the years in
Jacksonville, I think we were playing shows in separate bands around
Jacksonville as early as 1994-1995, Fred was in a band called Authority
Porch, then Split 26, then Ten Foot Shindig and I was in a band called
Splinter that became the band Thick. We would do The 10 Foot Thick Tour,
Ten Foot Shindig and us just played clubs in Jacksonville and regional
type shows. We ended up letting our singer go in the hopes of having
Fred join the band but he had already started Limp Bizkit, we were still
able write with him, he would come over and jam on songs with us and
stuff and he would always tell us “if this thing with Limp Bizkit
doesn’t work out we’re doing this band.” Obviously, that didn’t
happen and Limp Bizkit blew up huge.
So I watched my friends in Bizkit get huge over the course of a couple of
years and one day I get a phone call, I had just graduated from college
in UNF a couple of weeks earlier and had no idea what I was going to do
with my life. It was Danny Wimmer, whom I had known from the old Milk
Bar days and now he was A&R for Fred’s new label Flawless. He was
like ‘Hey man, Fred signed a singer and the band is called Puddle of
Mudd. He wants you, Shane “T-Bone” Webb and Paul Phillips to come
out to California and audition to be in his band.”
At the time, I had focused a lot on finishing school so music was sort of
on the back burner for me. T-Bone and I had been in bands together for
years but I didn’t know Paul back then. My future wife knew his
girlfriend at the time and I think Fred tried to sign him when he was in
the band Happy Hour.
Next thing you know we’re on a plane to L.A., we land, drop our stuff off
and go straight to the Cole rehearsal studios. We end up in the room
where Rage Against the Machine had just recorded Evil Empire, their
second record. We set up and get sounds on the rental gear that was
there and started jamming. We had been given some songs to learn, early
Puddle stuff…I think “Drift and Die,” “Said,” and “Nobody
Told Me” were in the early demos that we were given. So they didn’t
have Blurry and obviously they didn’t have Control. So we mainly
played those songs the first day and the next day Danny said “well,
you all learned his songs, obviously you can play, do you have any song
ideas of your own? And I was like I have one. So I started playing the
Control riff (the one that starts the song and is played throughout
except for the bridge section). So Wes starts flipping through the pages
of his notebook and the next thing you know I’d say within the hour it
was written, arranged, vocals, he had the Smack My Ass thing going on,
we had it all.
So it ends up Doug (Ardito) was sitting on the couch with Danny, and I
didn’t know that Doug was auditioning, I just thought he was from the
label. Danny wanted Doug in the band, even though Fred had given me the
chance and Fred was overseeing it and had signed the band, it was still
up to Wes…and Danny. The next day, even after writing “Control”
Danny says to me, “Okay, we are going to audition other people so
here’s your plane ticket, you leave tomorrow flying out on Delta.”
It was that fast, that harsh and that heartless.
Obviously I was pretty bummed, and I was waiting tables still, so I go back homeand everyone was asking what happened? How did it go? Why are you home already? I didn’t make it, of course. Actually, T-Bone and Paul stayed
out there, it looked like they had both made it. Several months went by
and I talked to T-Bone one day and he says that “Control is probably
going to be the first single, we play it at every show and showcase that
we do out here.” So we had to negotiate a song split situation, which
I was pretty happy with what I ended up with for this song for my
contribution to the song.
After that, they record the record and release the song to radio. I would hear
it every hour on our alternative station, I saw it climbing up the
charts, I mean I think it really got them to almost a million records
just off of Control. They had the video, the explosive first single, the push from
the label, they really came out of the gates killing it. Once they
released “Blurry,” they were poised to go multi-platinum.
They ended up selling four million records for “Come Clean.”
POMFP: I do believe that Control was the catalyst to get it going.
Were you surprised it was such a big hit?
Brad: When we were out there and I was pissed, of course because I
didn’t make it, I told Danny, this is the best song he’s got. At the time I loved Drift & Die as a song but
“Control” was a game changer. T-Bone had let me hear recordings that
they had done since and I was just like it’s still the best song I
thought they had at the time. We
had to negotiate the split, I got my split, which actually led me to a
publishing deal with EMI because the song was generating a huge buzz and
a lot of airplay/record sales, it was such a big hit. I did a writer
deal with EMI and I think that was finalized in 2002.
But from doing that, it put me on the radar, which eventually led
me to Brent Smith, and we formed Shinedown in Jacksonville.
POMFP: As a musician and a songwriter, that’s a bonus. Are you surprised
Smack My Ass actually got played by radio or do you think it was them
crossing over the line a little bit?
Brad: Not really, it was just dirty and sort of kind of quirky enough, and
heavy enough but also, it was a great song. I expected something a bit
darker as far as the video went, but the way it was produced and stuff I
dug it. When they were shooting the video, they shot it in Jacksonville,
at Lillian’s Piano Bar for the bar scenes and Palm Valley Road was the
POMFP: I’ve been there. I took a photo with my thumb out hitchhiking in that
Brad: When they let go of Doug a couple years back, Paul called me up
and was like, ‘Hey man, can you learn 15 songs and come out here with
us, like now!?’ I was in Little Rock, Arkansas and I had already
started with Fuel…He says ‘a month after you joined Fuel, Doug is
let go, wtf?’
Itwas fate I guess that I didn’t end up in the band again.
I told Paul that I couldn’t leave one for the other without
some kind of commitment, financially or contract, or something, so here
I am still playing with Fuel. And we’re about to do a new record and
this situation makes a lot of sense for me. We have a solid group of
guys. Everyone in the band is married with kids, or actually Andy
doesn’t have kids (our lead guitarist), but no one has any tattoos,
nothing against tattoos but it is kinda funny that no one in the band is
Butyeah, next thing you know, Doug comes back to the band after 6 months or
so and then the unthinkable happens, Paul is out of the band.
POMFP: I’m very sad about that.
Brad: I’m very sad to see it too.
But as a fan I just have to roll, you know I still support him and he
knows that, full-heartedly that I do, and I’m never going to do
anything to hurt him, slam him, I just have to ride the fence but he
knows if it comes down to it I am in his corner.
Didyou watch the video debut of Control on TRL? Did you know it was
happening, did you actually watch it?
Brad: I don’t know if I watched the debut, but I saw it pretty soon
after it was released. Between the Puddle and Shinedown thing I actually
got a job with Bacardi in Jacksonville, as an Analytical Chemist. In the
lab we could listen to the radio, we are testing rum and doing what we
have to do, and there’s my song again, this is crazy shit, you know.
It was so cool watching it blow up on the radio and MTV. After that, I
was hooked. Music was my destiny, it was pretty apparent.
POMFP: So it works out.
Brad: Yes, around the same time I met Brent and we started writing
songs. I was going into work at Bacardi from 7am-3:30pm; then I would go
home for a little bit, then I would go to the studio until midnight or
2am and repeat. We were doing Shinedown demos. Next thing you know, that
next year I guess we got the green light and recorded “Leave a
POMFP: Is it bittersweet, the whole Puddle of Mudd thing?
I know at first resentment may sink in, but in the long haul I do
believe you end up where you are supposed to be, a lot of things are a
stepping stone, you had to jump over and you hate to fall off the rock
but sometimes you end up in the water and you get up, but in the end you
do end up where you are supposed to be.
Brad: I agree, you know for me, it was a life-changing thing, Puddle of
Mudd and that situation with “Control.” I guess because I didn’t
make it in the band but I got a taste of what it could be and I felt
like it was the direction my life needed to take. I’ve always been
passionate about music but playing locally is discouraging, but this was
a whole new level. Before this happened, I was actually planning on
going to medical school, I had taken the tests and everything but once
“Control” hit, it was like I’ve just co-wrote a hit song do I want
to go back to school for however many more years? F that, Fuck that…
(We had a laugh)
POMFP: Come Clean was on the charts for 87 weeks. I’m very analytical,
that’s what started the whole keeping up with POM facts and stuff, I
do believe Control was the main catalyst, but now Control is on Classic
Radio, 10 years later, how weird is that?
Brad: It’s amazing; I hear it in any city I’m in at any given time.
I have access to seeing the charts and it’s got like a Golden
Rotation on a lot of stations and it still generates money.
(We both have to laugh)
Q & A – Miscellaneous
POMFP: Society Red, Moxey and I have a joke, everybody has been in
Puddle of Mudd except Moxey.
Brad: I know, he actually auditioned for the drumming spot and I
don’t know Shannon but I was pulling for Moxey to get it.
Moxey is a great guy, that was a very fun thing, Society Red was very fun, I
think the music was there, it was just an odd timing thing with the
industry itself because the songs were there but you know, it’s like
you said, it’s fate. Between Me, Damien, Dizzy, Paul, yeah, everybody
has been in the frickin band except Moxey, that’s crazy.
POMFP: Is it more fun sometimes to just go collaborate with your
friends, just go out and do it without the headache of performing,
making something, selling records versus, hey I’m going with my
friends to rock out.
Brad: With Society Red it was fun, we wrote songs, recorded, partied,
played shows, partied some more. Sooner or later though, we found
ourselves in sort of a ‘get signed’ mode, we were doing it long
enough and had a lot of faith in what we were doing. It became very
frustrating getting doors slammed in your face when you know you have
something good and you’re trying to turn people on to it and they look
at you and say “I think it’s really good stuff,” but then do
nothing about it. No contract, not even an offer.
So when I ran into Brett Scallions at NAMM in 2010, out there in Anaheim,
he was like, yeah, I’m getting the Fuel thing back together man… and
the only thing we’re missing is a bass player. So you know it was one
of those things where I loved Society Red but nothing was happening. And
I can’t just dump my time down that well, it’s getting me nowhere, I
have to make a living.
POMFP: I’ll finish up; I have to hit a few things. The last 10 years has been
an explosion of the Internet and in an era of personal communication
with a band, something you never would have saw when I was coming up in
the 70’s, is it beneficial or do you find it intrusive for people to
know so much?
Brad: I think it’s a fine line, there’s always that person or people that
do things on the net that stir shit up and cause drama, it’s like why
did you post that, say that or write it? It’s not reflecting well on
me, was it malicious, it’s none of your business. It can also make it
hard to maintain a mystique for the band if it’s too accessible.
The other side of it is that it is cool to post things and see an immediate
reaction, to see people genuinely excited about our show coming up or
something I said, or a picture. I’m kind of used to it now, with the
Shinedown thing I was very late getting into MySpace, and very late
getting into Facebook, but once I got into Facebook, I embraced it. I
wasn’t ever much into MySpace but I feel like I’ve met a lot of cool
connections and friends and stuff.
POMFP: The Day in the Life of a Band Videos, the things bands do on their off
day, they’re taking videos, we’re golfing, we’re doing stupid
stuff, any plans to do that regularly as far as for Fuel.
From a fan standpoint, fans love that, I try to tell a band you
don’t have to give us the dirt, we don’t want to see the stuff we
aren’t supposed to see, but we love to see the fun goofy stuff, I
Brad: I think with this new record there will be a lot more of that,
but right now we don’t have anyone who’s job is to film and document
the band. We’ll take pics or post things like hey we’re eating here,
and this is from this show, but we haven’t done a whole lot of that in
a formal way, but I think now that we have the right people in place the
time has come for some of these things to be happening, including a new
record, new song, new video, backstage, studio footage, us just hanging
out or us in a restaurant goofing off.
POMFP: Dave Grohl’s Grammy Speech, I know you have either seen it, heard
it, read about it…
Brad: Heard it.
POMFP: Does music need to get back to its roots and forget about being a
polished stone and just have its rough edges and what it is, is what it
Brad: I couldn’t agree with you more.
POMFP: Do you think the era of produced music videos is gone? The money
and the return is not there. It’s a big outlay of cash to do that.
Brad: It’s a complete waste of money at this point to go that far
with it unless you’re a Lady GaGa or someone that’s going to be
almost guaranteed a spot for that on MTV or MTV 2, it’s definitely
important to have videos because I think you need a visual for the band
and for the song that you are promoting but to go out, we spent $200,000
on “Save Me” in Shinedown, the first single off the second record
and it got some airplay but it didn’t really get a whole lot and
we’re looking at each other like, well that was a very expensive waste
of time, I think 45 got more airplay and we spent like 25 grand on that
one or whatever it was, you know so it was just kind of a bummer.
POMFP: Just a couple of more questions, heroes past and present, dead or
alive, doesn’t matter, doesn’t even have to be a musician…
Brad: My parents have been very important to me,. My brother is a fire
fighter so he is a hero on a regular basis.
My wife is an amazing person that inspires me everyday too.
I’m blessed to have positive people in my life and to have had a solid
We have to wind it up as Fuel’s Tour Manager comes to get Brad to get
ready for their show.
It was a great interview with Brad, he was very gracious in granting some
of his time to fill in some of the Puddle blanks as well as update the
fans on what his is working on with Fuel.
Thank you Brad, David, Brett, Ken, and Andy for your hospitality –