TESLA bassist Brian Wheat spoke to Robert Cavuoto of Sonic Perspectives about his upcoming autobiography, "Son Of A Milkman: My Crazy Life With Tesla", which will arrive on November 24 via Post Hill Press. In this 304-page hardcover book, Wheat lifts the lid on living the rock 'n' roll life while struggling with anxiety, depression and other issues seldom discussed by musicians.
Asked how the members of TESLA managed to keep their hardcore partying antics out of the press in the 1980s and early 1990s while other bands, like MÖTLEY CRÜE and GUNS N' ROSES, were notorious for their wild offstage lifestyle, Brian said: "Bands like MÖTLEY CRÜE or GUNS N' ROSES got a lot more publicity than we did. TESLA didn't have the sort of image where we were in all the magazines and on MTV all the time. We had a short period where we were on MTV a lot with 'Five Man Acoustical Jams' — 'Signs', 'Modern Day Cowboy' and 'Love Song' — but I think we were viewed as an American BAD COMPANY or a blues-based rock band. We didn't have a high-profile image. I think that is how we kept it down. We weren't throwing TVs out of windows and shit like that, but we liked our drugs and our alcohol. I really don't know how we avoided it, and I'm thankful we are all alive today. I guess it's a blessing that we somehow avoided it."
Wheat also talked about the fact that he was suffering from anxiety and depression but didn't want to take any medication to treat those conditions, preferring instead to drink and take downers.
"I didn't want to take drugs for anxiety and depression, because I was already a drug addict," he explained. "I had a short time where I dabbled in harder drugs like cocaine, but I was mucked up and depressed at the time. Unfortunately, that was my logic behind not wanting to take medicine for anxiety. If anything, the downers were contributing to the anxiety. Thank God, because that is when I met Dr. Herschkopf, who was my psychiatrist. He helped me immensely to deal with my anxiety disorder. Later in my life, I started taking Paxil for anxiety. I guess it was my mindset at 27 when this all came crashing down on me.
"I know it sounds a bit funny. The book was in my voice, and I wanted to have people get a laugh out of it. Through therapy, I learned that alcohol and downs contributed to the anxiety, so now I don't do that. [Laughs] It was not the smartest thing in the world as I could have died.
"If I get on an airplane, I'll take an Advair because I'm horrified of flying," he continued. "I'm still glad I didn't take the antidepressants at the time and went to therapy with Dr. Herschkopf; it was the best money I could have spent on my health care.
"The one thing I want people to take away from this book is that I had some shit I needed to deal with, which readers might not think a guy in a rock band has to deal with. I did it, and I'm not complaining. I came out of it okay."
"Son Of A Milkman" features a foreword by DEF LEPPARD vocalist Joe Elliott, and was co-written with award-winning journalist and author Chris Epting, whose titles include "Adrenalized" (co-written with DEF LEPPARD's Phil Collen) and "Change Of Seasons" (co-written with John Oates).
Wheat co-founded TESLA, which became one of the biggest bands of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Brian owns a recording studio by the name of J Street Recorders in Sacramento, California. PAPA ROACH, TESLA, PAT TRAVERS, DEFTONES, KODIAK JACK, FLASHFIRES and many others have recorded there.