“I can taste the midnight on your lips. What the hell does that mean, man? What the hell does midnight taste like?” chuckles former Major League pitcher Brett Myers, as he references a lyric from a popular Jason Aldean song.
Not one to speak in mixed metaphors, Myers has left his 12-year career — one that saw him pitch in the World Series twice, record 97 wins, and save 40 more for four different teams — in the rearview mirror to take on an entirely different and rather surprising career.
Brett Myers, who picked up guitar when he got to the big leagues, is a country music recording artist. Though song titles “Beer Hand Strong” and “Kegerator” would seem to indicate a former athlete just messing around is releasing them, Myers is taking this very seriously.
“I’ve always liked music.” Myers explained, “You’ve got a lot of downtime after games and on the road. So I just started playing in the hotel. With no musical background, I had no idea how hard it would be to pick it up.”
The love of playing the guitar spurred a desire in Myers to begin penning his own lyrics. While on the disabled list during his final year in Cleveland, Myers began putting some words to music. Having a childhood friend, Damien Starkey, who played in well-known rock band Puddle of Mudd led to Myers getting in the studio and beginning to turn words on paper into fully-mastered recordings ready for download.
“I didn’t really understand the things that went into creating a song. I knew what went into writing one, but I really needed someone to collaborate with on the entire process,” Myers said.
Myers knew what he wanted to be as an artist — a down-to-earth, throwback country singer who recorded songs the blue collar man could relate to. There would be no midnight-on-the-lips talk in Myers’ songs. These were to be songs for the beer-drinking, pickup-truck-driving, man. Myers knew where he wanted to take his lyrics, but how to get there?
“We did the first song. I told Damien that I had a song that I wanted to master. He told me it was a great idea, but he told me I had to be the one to sing it. I said, ‘No I do not.’ I did not want to sing,” said the pitcher.
Myers had no singing background, but he had no desire to get in front of the microphone. Starkey should be the one to sing the song, Myers concluded. He was after all, the one who was the lead singer in a band at the age of 18. Starkey refused, reiterating the fact that he could sing a lot of things, but country was not one. “I can’t sing anything,” Myers retorted, to no avail.
“Damien really wanted me to sing. He was adamant about me singing,” Myers said. The pair wrote their first song, Beer Hand Strong. It was the first song Myers had sung in the studio.
“Whatever came out is what was going on it,” Myers said when explaining his debut.
Myers and Starkey work well writing songs. Between the two of them, a song can get written in two or three hours, with Starkey handling the musical arrangements. When they hit the studio, Starkey mans the guitar while Myers sings. When additional instruments are needed, Myers and Starkey will seek out help from other friends.
“It’s been a crazy ride,” Myers said.
As Myers prepared to launch his first songs, he was apprehensive about using his own name. He wanted to debut the songs with a joint name, but his partner insisted the songs be released under Myers’ own name.
“I wanted a name for us. I did not want to use my real name. I didn’t want to sing the stuff. I didn’t want to use my name, but he said I had to do it because the only way people would see the songs and talk about them is if the name of a former big leaguer were attached to it.”
“Whatever man,” Myers said, “you’ve been the one in the music industry. I’ll do whatever you want me to do.”
In the studio, Myers, who routinely pitched in front of crowds upwards of 40,000, was intimidated by the microphone. With no musical training, he had no idea what he was doing. Myers was going to have to brute-force his way into recording songs that sounded like they had been sung by someone with a vague understanding of musical theory.
“I was scared to death dude,” Myers explained, “It took me a while to understand that my timing was terrible. I didn’t know when to come in. I had no idea how to sing the songs. Any song that I’ve heard a bunch, I can sing that song, but these are new songs. I barely know the words to begin with. I have no idea what the song really is, and where it’s supposed to go. I knew what I was writing down, I could tell you what the song was about, but I had no idea how it was supposed to sound.”
“That was the hardest thing ever. To get the words, and the timing, and the melody right,” Myers said. “I was nervous as hell. I get out of the studio, and I had sweat running down my arms. I told Damien, ‘I can pitch in front of 50,000 people, but I’m scared of one mic.”
When he began his venture with Starkey, Myers had one goal — to put an album out on iTunes. He’s more than accomplished that now, with 14 songs to his name on Apple’s music-selling platform. The next step would be to start pushing the music with live performances and shows, but Myers isn’t so sure he wants to take that step.
“I’ve played guitar on stage before, and have sung some backup,” Myers said, “To be the frontman, though, that scares the hell out of me. I just wanted to put the album out there to say I did it.”
The songs that Myers has written — Beer Hand Strong, Beercation, Kegerator, and Drive My Truck to name a few — speak to his roots. He’s a down-home country boy who has simple tastes. It’s the type of country music Myers misses on the radio, as the genre begins to go more mainstream.
“We write a lot about beer-drinking and having a good time,” Myers said, ” but that’s what we know. I figure most country songs are about beer and women. I wrote the song called Country Back because that’s what I think needs to happen. I’m sick and tired of seeing all these pretty-boy, prima donnas on stage in their skinny jeans.”
Myers is now working to release a song every month. His latest song is Drive My Truck.
“That’s what we’re trying to do,” Myers explained, “a song a month. And it doesn’t take us a month to do a song. We’ve been done with this one that’s coming out in two weeks for about a month now. I’ve just been listening to it making a few tweaks.”
For Myers, the goal is to create fun songs and enjoy himself. Realizing that it’s going to take a ton of touring and the backing of a major record label to really make his songs take off, Myers would love to see one of his songs picked up by a bigger act.
“Quite honestly, I started out just wanting to write a song for one of the big guys,” Myers dished on his goals. “I’m down here at the freaking bottom of the chain. I’ll never get up to the level of an Aldean or a Luke Bryan, nor do I desire to do it. I’ve got four kids. If I wanted to make this a huge deal, I would go out on tour. I’m not going to do that. I don’t have time to do that. My kids and wife need me around more than I need to be out making music.”
Myers coaches 10-year-old travel baseball. His daughter rides horses competitively. He has a lot going on, and leaving his family to go out on the road after 12 years of baseball does not sound appealing to Myers. Family life presents a bigger set of challenges for a player who had grown accustomed to having every second of his day scheduled in a Major League clubhouse. Myers is also just getting comfortable in the recording studio. Learning to do that in front of a crowd is intimidating.
As his music career is currently structured, Myers has plenty of time to juggle family life while continuing to delve deeper into his musical talents. He and Starkey can get a song done in a few days. Starkey handles most of the production, and the process of releasing the finished product. Myers readily admits that he would be doing none of this without the gentle initial nudge from his friend or the continued assistance.
“There isn’t a song we’re doing, that we put out, that we both don’t like. I know it might not be a bunch of people’s cup of tea, but I like what I’m doing.”
The next steps for Myers are still up-in-the-air. He does not have a big record label pumping millions of dollars into his name. Without a desire to go out on tour and promote his music, Myers is forced to rely on social media and word of mouth to spread his music. It’s going to be an uphill battle, but Myers is ready to take it on.
This is not a former athlete playing around with his millions. Myers takes this endeavor seriously. Though he has little to no musical training, Myers’ voice translates well to the vocal stylings required to be successful as a country musician. He’s not singing opera after all. Myers’ voice is a deep baritone, with a noticeable Southern twang — perfect for country.
What started as a release for an ex-athlete looking for something to fill the hours with after retirement, has turned into an actual second career for Brett Myers. Though Myers’ vocals may never stream across the radio waves, he has far exceeded his initial goal. What started as a project to leave one simple audio record of his voice for future generations has resulted in a full album with many more songs to come. Myers is having fun with music, and has no plans of slowing down.
“I like to be able to tell stories, make it catchy, and let people think what they want to think. There’s no reading between the lines in my songs. I just want people to hear it.”
Take a listen to Brett Myers’ latest track “Drive My Truck,” below, and check out his entire library of recorded tracks on iTunes.