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Photo: Brandon Bjorkman / Courtesy of Clarion Call Media

Brett Newski Plays Slacker Prankster on “What Are You Smoking?” (premiere)

Is social distancing something we've been doing, unwittingly, all along? Brett Newski pulls some pranks, raises some questions in "What Are You Smoking?".

Brett Newski‘s particular brand of rock, described as “smash pop”, “diet grunge”, and “slack hop”, among other designations is on full display via the new single “What Are You Smoking?” The track follows the album Don’t Let the Bastards Get Your Down and, accidentally or not, recalls the slacker vibe of early Beck and Pavement at its most deliciously shambolic. Maybe there’s never been a better moment for the revival of the Gen X aesthetic and dream.

Newski is seen interrupting parties, crowded gatherings and trying his hand at performing in/on the water while inside a human hamster ball. He’s no stranger to the strange, however, as he’s performed inside a Norwegian rubber factory, an Austrian toolshed and a Chinese bakery (while in Hong Kong). As of 2020, he and drummer Matt Spatola are reportedly “the first documented band to be kicked out of Walmart for playing an unlicensed show.” The prankster (merry or otherwise) is seen here as living in a bubble at time when a bubble may be the safest place to be. Or is it?

Whatever it is he’s doing, the spirit of play and passive confrontation are alive and well and living inside the frames of the “What Are You Smoking?” video, which was directed by Max Hauser. “Live concerts have mostly been abolished in the US,” he says. “So we decided to run around in a giant hamster ball and play some safe, yet illegal shows. This brought joy to many, but enraged others.”

Newski is also host of a new podcast, Dirt From the Road, featuring fellow artists telling their most outrageous road stories. His recent guests have included Frank Turner, Heartless Bastards, and the Von Bondies. Newski will perform a live stream concert on October 4.