For this installment of UE University we got a chance to speak to Brian Geller of Ultimate Ears and singer of the absolutely amazing Van Halen tribute band Atomic Punks. Don’t take my word for it. David Lee Roth in his autobiography call them “The best tribute to Van Halen, Ever!
Howard Stern said “They are the total experience. They do Van Halen better than Van Halen themselves.” Don’t believe us all? How about you believe your eyes and ears.
We got to chat with Brian about the band, about UE and how he is able to manage such a hectic schedule.
Hey Brian, thanks for taking the time to sit with us. First off, How did you get your start at UE?
My voice was shot and I could feel my hearing going. I had just landed a new gig and my shows doubled overnight. I was just looking for a way to survive each show and preserve my hearing.
How did Atomic Punks come together?
Complete accident 21 years ago. Our drummer Scott’s original band was playing a local gig and the singer was a no show. They had a friend in the crowd that could sing – so he jumped up on stage and filled in. They hit a bunch of Van Halen songs and the crowd went nuts. After the show, the owner wanted the same guys back but only if they played Van Halen. The guys thought that it was odd because at that time you basically just had Elvis and Beatles tribute bands. The rest I guess you can say is history!
I see that you played with Michael Anthony, how did that happen?
Right place at the right time. I was playing the Cabo Village at a Sammy Hagar Show (the old stomping ground where they had the infamous US Festival). Basically we played outside the venue prior to that evening’s Red Rocker Show. Sammy came down – loved the performance and asked me if I wanted to do a song with him. Of course I said yes and then he told me “oh ya, Michael Anthony is here tonight to, lets pull out a classic VH tune and all three of us can do it!”
Do you use UE IEMs live? How do you think they affect (or improve) your playing?
Each and every show! I can say that I have not only preserved my hearing but instead of just a performer I’ve become a pretty good vocalist. I hear exactly what I want each and every night and this is vital for singers but more importantly for singers that are impersonating.
I see you guys have a pretty busy schedule for the summer, do you spend a lot of time on tour? How do you balance that with your work at UE?
We get pretty busy during the summer months doing festivals, clubs, private parties and cruises. I say we do about 60+ shows a year. We’re basically weekend warriors! UE has been fantastic with my schedule. On the road I meet a lot of sound guys, other bands, etc. and there is no bigger advocate of UE product then yours truly! It is tough though to fly out on a Friday, perform all weekend, fly home Sunday and back to UE on Monday!
You guys were on Howard F***ing Stern? What was that like?!? He said some awesome things about the band.
Pretty cool right? Just a random conversation one day on the Stern! They replay it every once in awhile and it’s awesome to hear!